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I was asked today what president Obama should do in Syria. It all hit me at once that the question should not be what President Obama should do but what Russian president Vladimir Putin should do in Syria. President Obama is in a familar lose-lose position, but one perhaps never more dire. Any heavy-handed American action in Syria is expected to create a domino effect in which Iran will attack Israel, and who knows what happens from there? Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is expected to veto any UN resolution to punish Assad's sarin gas atrocities on civilians yet the world is to dutifully show up for the Sochi Olympics in Russia this winter. What they hell is up with that?

I have been writing for hours on different forums, Twitter and even the "contact us" facility on the White House web site urging that no hasty action be taken--John McCain's incontinence not withstanding--and that the atrocities in Syria now be looked at as the serious-enough "game-changer" that the hash treatment of gays apparently was not to bring about a change in venue or a boycott of the Russian Olympics. In every post and comment I tried to make it crystal clear that I am not talking about a symbolic United States boycott but an emergency (perhaps US-led) global boycott of the Sochi games. There is time to at least try to get commitment from so many countries that Russia and Putin will have to face the grave finacial loss an Olympics abandoned and a historical disgracing if they are not persuaded to side with greater civilization in condemnation of Assad's atrocities. Depite my efforts, many repondents reacted with typical dismissivness saying that it won't work and it's just symbolic blah, blah woof woof. Hog wash! This has never been done before and it's worth a try.

There is a monumental difference between a symbolic boycott by one country--even a central fixture like the United States--and an unprecedented refusal by enough countries (if not all) to participate and shut down or relocate the games unless Russia accepts it's RESPONSIBILITY TO CIVILIZATION and at the very least does not exercize its veto on a UN resolution to punish Assad's regime.

There are of course many persons and organizations already urging relocation or boycott due to Russia's backward hard-line policies against gay persons--not to mention tacit approval of thuggish behavior by Russian hooligans acting on their own to terrorize gay folk. But the sarin attack in Syria with Russian-manufactured gas far ups the ante. If gassing civilians is OK, Russia is no place for such an event as the Olympics. This may be the easiest call ever. This you we simply can not have both ways.

Many Americans believe that leadership means bloody reaction ASAP. But real leadership means getting it right and touching all the bases while avoiding hazzards which can trip you up. If that means not shooting and using economic and political pressure to keep Iran's and other's guns in their holsters, so be it. Please join me in making your case to everyone who might be persuaded. The US can not bomb Syria and then go play hockey in Russia. There will be hell to pay that we can not control and no sports event is worth that.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    highacidity, kyril, mookins

    "Education Is Not the Filling of a Pail, But the Lighting of a Fire" W.B. Yeats

    by RareBird0 on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 04:08:40 PM PDT

  •  A comment from Domestic Elf yesterday: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rssrai, kyril, FG, RareBird0
    A small window here to pin this on Russia
    In the immediate aftermath of the chemical attack, while the horrible images are still circulating, the U.S. has an opportunity to flip this narrative - instead of the world calling for the U.S. to act, the world needs to be calling for RUSSIA to act.  

    Over the next 24-48 hours, every U.S. statement should demand that Russia rebuke Assad directly in a serious and meaningful way. If they want to continue to support him, and obstruct us at the UN in the face of this violation of international law, then Russia needs to own this chemical attack.

    If Putin won't offer more than a lukewarm denunciation of the attack, then call for a widespread boycott of the Olympics. We are only months away and dozens of countries boycotting Putin's Olympics because he supported using chemical weapons against children would be very bad optics for him.

    I've asked said Elf to write a diary but not sure that will happen. Otherwise I've been pimping the idea, it's a great idea and the right thing to do.

    Don't know how to get some traction with this...

    •  Thanks for your encouragement (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      highacidity

      Ed Schultz said tonight that Americans don't demonstrate any more "..they have their social media and.." words to the effect that they tap in their reactions and opinions and consider their activism done. I have said that the Internet is a "pacifier" in that regard. But if indeed there is truth to it, there is quite a job to be done to pound this message into the elctronic sociosphere wherefrom it may actually jump from screen into the minds of the truly motivated whose activism does not stop with taking a brain dump in this huge electronic file cabinet we call the Internet. I've sent my idea to the White House--it will be viewed by a screener and may go no further. But if we endeavor to make this VIRAL and keep at it, there is the chance that it will be seen by more than the defeatist naysayer who resents anything that isn't his or her idea. I'm affraid that's just the way it is. Ya never know. I managed to get sen. Al Franken to follow me on Twitter and I've been Tweeting this idea and this locale for more of my case to keep the US in pproper proportion behind the UN and deal with the major obstacle to a UN resolution i.e. Russia. Allowing ourselves to be goosed by anxious republicans into an action which may do nothing but set off a grave mess is the absolute wrong thing to do. They had their chance and the judgement of history is in on that.

      "Education Is Not the Filling of a Pail, But the Lighting of a Fire" W.B. Yeats

      by RareBird0 on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 09:49:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I Agree With You That If Russia Continues To (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    highacidity, kyril

    block the UN from punishing Syria than the US should boycott the Olympics.

    "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

    by rssrai on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 04:47:26 PM PDT

  •  There was a comment yesterday that Russia (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buddabelly, mookins, Emmy

    provided the UN with a satellite photo that showed the rockets, with the nerve gas, were fired from rebel held territory. I have no idea if this photo is at all credible. Here is the comment:

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 05:22:47 PM PDT

    •  Russians certainly are making these claims. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, mookins, thestructureguy

      Whether they have the photos, no idea. But Russians are known to make claims that are later proven wrong so I wouldn't put too much stock in them. If UN has the photos, smb there will talk about them soon enough.

    •  You're source is a comment in another diary (0+ / 0-)

      that doesn't even begin to source it?  Amazing.

      Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

      by thestructureguy on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 10:11:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you read the other comment you will see (0+ / 0-)

        that I questioned the comment author about his/her source and if the photos were available for the public to see. I don't trust the Russians to provide truthful information to the UN, but if they did provide a photo to the UN is would be useful to know that. As I noted in my comment in this thread I have no idea how credible the photo is and the link was not intended to give the other comment any undeserved credibility.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 04:14:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Slight disconnect there (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Emmy

    Wouldn't Putin caving at the U.N. simply enable airstrikes against Assad - the thing you say you want to avoid?

    I think people are making a mistake if they are buying into the idea that this is a simply a humanitarian issue. Since when did major powers ever get entangled in Middle East conflicts on such grounds?

    There is a geopolitical dimension here, with Russia, Syria and Iran on one side, and Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the NATO powers on the other, and energy politics may have more to do with it than concern for the Syrian people. The use of chemical weapons, while tragic, shouldn't distract us from asking questions about the larger context before we start organizing boycotts and circulating petitions.

    •  You're right (0+ / 0-)

      But it is a critical nuance that the Obama Administration has been shortchanged of credit for. Though the US played a role in Libya, rarely if ever was it said the the Obama policy helped "repair" the "international community" which was all but neutered and obscurred by the reckless actions of the Bush/Cheney regime. Many Americans, especially on the right and some of which are so young that they know nothing else, think that the policy of Bush-Cheney to go galavanting wherever they want on whatever "evidence" they cobble together--UN be damned--is righteous and how it has always been or should be. It isn't and it hasn't. Some have called Obama's prudence "leading from behind"--they don't have a clue that prudence, especially in light of tangible recent history, IS leadership.

      We must all hope (and pray if you're a believer) that another episode of chemical weapons use does not force anyone's hand and that time permits the UN to finish its categoric investigation of the facts. It is then imperative for the Obama Administration to make sure folds itself into a proportionate role and that it's desire to be a proportionate part of a global international effort is not viewed as a weakness but a deliberated choice to continue to mend the international community so badly damaged by Bush-Cheny. The UN may approve air strikes or "no-fly" zones, but the responsibility for them will be spread out to a true UN-backed coalition whereas a unilateral attack by the US will only validate the left-over resentment and want for jihad in retribution for American wanton bloodlust (if you look at it from the Arab view). Unforunately America has partisan media realities where the President will be mischaracterized by partisan media at home and in some cases criticized by the far left because even some of them think that doing anything equals "the US going all in". It has been too much water under the bridge since the Clinton era where the US deferred to Nato rather than going great guns into policing the world (for better or worse) but going forward the "sane party" must endeavor to take proportionate place in a true international community and put some new and good history in the books after the scourge of Bush-Cheney.

      Yes, ultimatley Syria may be attacked, but every effort must be made by the US to blend in rather than lead dripping saliva from its fangs. wink

      "Education Is Not the Filling of a Pail, But the Lighting of a Fire" W.B. Yeats

      by RareBird0 on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 10:22:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There is no basis for the claim of (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buddabelly, Lepanto, DavidMS, Emmy

    "Assad's sarin gas atrocities".

    There is zero evidence that Assad was behind it, and some evidence that the rebels were behind it. But nobody really knows right now. And it's not clear it was sarin either.

    If I had to bet I'd put all my money on the rebels having done it. Assad has nothing to gain by it and everything to lose. It would be profoundly stupid for him to do it. He's already winning with conventional weapons, so it serves no purpose and only risks drawing intervention against him.

    The rebels on the other hand are losing and they have everything to gain by it, namely creating a pretext for western intervention on their behalf. They've been following the Libya model since the beginning and they will never win without the US and allies coming in to be their air force like what happened in Libya.

    Cui bono.

    •  There is no evidence (0+ / 0-)

      that anyone has sarin except Assad. Six nations refused to honor the ban on sarin. One was Syria and Syria is known to possess the world's largest stockpiles of sarin. It's not unreasonable to suspect that Assad used the gas. But the UN is in Syria trying to find out only to be sniped at by Assad loyalists to keep them from the evidence. I'll apologize if and when the UN finds Assad innocent. But if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a fucking duck.

      "Education Is Not the Filling of a Pail, But the Lighting of a Fire" W.B. Yeats

      by RareBird0 on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 10:27:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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