Thursday, August 29, 2013
I know little about Asia. There are tensions and historical grievances that could get inflamed easily. But the Asians have agreed to some new protocols on addressing differences at the ASEAN meeting. It is not consensus on the differences. But they are deferred, for awhile.
Lots of talk about credibility at stake for the US and Obama if there is no response to the alleged gas attack near Damascus. But the problem is that there is too much credibility; that the West seeks regime change. It happened in Iraq and in Libya already so you can bet Assad and Nasrallah (head of Hezbollah) believe it. So if they think they are going to die today from British and French today or tomorrow from cannibals, the question is what will they do if attacked. That is why there has been a delay in Western action: Uncertainty about their response not about any gas attack (about which no Western leader cares about). Will Syria and Hezbollah go all out, knowing that their regimes are about to be changed? The ideal, theoretical Western attack would be so limited that there would be no real response from the defenders. That would require much communication, trust, and you guessed it, credibility (but a different sort). Here is what is needed: 'Hi Assad, this is Obama. Hi I'm going to bomb you in a very limited way that will not tilt the balance of power to the cannibals, is that cool?' Do you promise it will be limited in that way? Yes. Ok go ahead.' This is the conversation, more or less (perhaps with the Russians as guarantors) that needs to happen for surgical strikes to receive little response. Think it is possible? If not, then it is time to swallow your pride and eat crow about crossing some red line...
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Friday, August 2, 2013
The Russians have been chafing for decades from US lectures to them about human rights. Granting Snowden asylum as if he were politically persecuted gives Putin the symbol he needs to reverse that perspective.
Yes Egypt again. You cant help but be fascinated by such raw, real politics. A solution? How about a standing constitutional council which includes major parties and groups that can change the constitution. The President would have veto power but could be overridden by the majority or a super-majority. The idea that Egypt can become Turkey and repress the bearded guys or go back to the days of Mubarak is ludicrous. Too many high hopes raised for everyone by 'the revolution' for such a counter-move to be stable.