With an editorial in the Washington Post titled “With No Consequences, Our Credibility Is At Stake“, Mr. David Ignatius makes some erroneous suppositions, then basis his argument upon them….
His words: “It becomes obvious in recent weeks that President Obama whose restrained and realistic foreign policy I admire, needs to demonstrate that there are consequences for crossing the American Red Line. Otherwise the coherence of the global system begins to dissolve…”
Is that true? Do you lose respect for someone who doesn’t Immediately punish you after catching you red handed?
That, I think, depends upon how much clout that person has. Let’s look at this same situation in other types of relationships.
Parent-Child. Do you punish your child for every single wrong thing they do? From toddler up? If so, where do you stop: at 21 or when they move out? Bottom line, one would be hard pressed to find someone who belts their child over every little infraction. That childhood punishment would be the equivalent of war I think. In fact, most of us who knew of a parent who did so, would feel obligated to call Child Services. A parent could use a time out corner. Take away a privilege, or in most cases, threaten a punishment and not deliver, and get sufficient results.
You reading this are grownups. Some of you were whupped, many of you weren’t.. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t respect their parents because they weren’t excessively belted? I’d guess very few. The point is, that we respect people for making good choices; not for pettily following rules, which may be petty at times. We respect people who make punishments fit the crime. We disrespect those who pull out the belt over every tiny infraction. Those that suffer the belt, only do so because they know that if they run away, they have no food, no shelter, no toys, no money. They figure better to take the momentary abuse, than run. The fact they choose to take it, doesn’t make it right.
Let’s jump to the workplace. And look at the relationship with one’s supervisor. We all know that the bosses we respect, are the older ones who practice wisdom, who arbitrarily apply punishments only when they are necessary. And when they do, all means get exhausted first, before firing the employee, (probably the equivalent of a first strike in this situation). They never lose respect; they maintain it. It is those brand new mangers no one respects, who walk with a book in their hand, and upon any infraction, they fire people. The movie depiction of the young kids who were fast food managers is a good example. if someone uses multiple threats to fire, and then acts accordingly, he has no respect. None. In fact, he is disrespected to the max simply because he fails to apply wisdom to the issues at hand. In fact one has the most respect for a supervisor, who has the right and valid reason to fire you, but gives you one more chance. Most of us respond and change our behavior to justify his wisdom in choosing that action. Our actions prove him right, and we have tremendous respect for that.
Again, respect is not derivative of excessive behavior. Respect is garnered more strongly to those whose decisions we trust
And what about respect in marriage? Does one have to be the dominatrix and the other subservient, for a marriage to function? Most would say divorce would be far better. Do you really want a spouse threatening you, then taking those threats out on you while you sleep? Not much sleep you will get. Our future president once had to make that choice. Under a lot of advice to dump her cheating husband, for some reason she chose not to. And it worked. It always works…
Which is why it is extemely odd for David Ignatius to propose that unless we go to war RIGHT NOW, no one will respect the United States. I beg to differ, Just saw a poll of 93% against Syrian action, and only 6% in approval. Truly, do you think that by going to war, those 93% are going to respect the president? What a ridiculous notion!
Do you think most of the nations we have to work with, will respect us if we go into Syria, even after they have all stated they would not join, and would not support such an action? If we attack Syria, will all those nations and their inhabitants hold us in higher esteem? I think not.
Since in these four real life cases, the premise stated by David Ignatius is the exact opposite of what actually works best, most normal people would be hard pressed to accept that in the case of Syria, against natural law, it would achieve the desired results….
The premise that our respect comes only from our ability to deliver upon threats, is childish in the least. Most people lose that idea forever with their first baby.
Next, David makes a very odd, perhaps misguided assertion. He says: “Look around the world and you can see how unscrupulous leaders are trying to attempt to exploit Obama’s attempt to disentangle America from the tumult of the Middle East… “
Is that true? Is a nation that’s felt the onslaught of America’s military ordance within it’s own territory, really unscrupulous because it doesn’t automatically succumb to what the USA wants?
In Yemen and Pakistan, we send drones overhead on a regular basis to take out hideaways. Would Americans roll over if we were the ones getting our airspace violated? Iraq, suffered American occupation for over 6 years. Are they now unscrupulous, because they don’t automatically succumb to what the USA wants? Iran, as actually since the last election, become far more moderate. Even with that, despite our history, should they acquiesce to whatever the USA might want?
Almost as if wiping out the history of the past decade, he makes the assumption that only a military strike into Syria, would again pull these people back under America’s umbrella. I really can’t see the reality David thinks he is standing on. If you were in a bar with your best friend, and someone walking by suddenly suckered-punched him, really hard, putting him on the floor, according to David, you would get off your chair, shake hands with the perpetrator, and scold your best friend for whatever he must have done to make this nice guy knock him out. According to David, you would not grab the perpetrator by the collar, and you would not attempt to slam your closed fist into his nose repeatedly!
What kind of world does David live in? (Oh, I see. He lives inside the Beltway! Ohhhhh)…
Then he says: “Here is another thought to ponder. Is it possible the the Syrian chemical weapons attack was planned and coordinated with its key ally, the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards? Surely they were in the loop.”
He knows this…. how?
Isn’t this what we call pure speculation? Does he have the cable dispatches from the NSA? How does he know they didn’t collude with North Korea? They did before! From the buzz I’ve heard the only people who really know what happened were on the ground at the attack, and inside Assad’s palace in Damascus. But David makes the assumption that Iran must also be in on it, because it fits in nicely with his scenario of how the Middle East works. Forget reality. It is what’s in David’s head that matters.
He solidifies: “The main rationale for military action by American and it’s allies should be restoring deterrence against the use of chemical weapons”.
Syria has been at war for 2 years. if it hasn’t changed its attitude while being under attack from the constant bombardment by the rebels, how will a few more extra explosives change his will which seems bent on keeping power? if you are going to get bombed by the USA, might as well do it now, when all they will be bombing, is already slated to be torn down and rebuilt…
He defines: “The strike should be limited and focused. rather than a roundhouse swing aimed at ending the Syrian Civil War. But it should be potent enough to disable Assad’s command and control structure so he can’t conduct similar actions in the future.”
So let’s be clear. He spend all his effort describing how we need a gigantic threat to cow the middle east in line, and we are going to do it with very limited means.
let’s replay that bar scene above, except this time the stranger just flicks the ear of you friend… Does your friend go: “gee, ha, ha, that was funny, Biff. You a thousand laughs, Always a joker”? My guess is that he will try to hurt the perpetrator, and you might help him.
So what does an ear flick prove? Can you imagine John Kerry’s press conference, “We have sent a signal to the world; if you use chemical weapons, we will flick your ear.”
But that is exactly what David is arguing for. Saying we are going to teach the world a very valuable lesson in respect…. (flick.)
Then to make his point, he becomes very confusing. He brings in Putin, and decries that Putin is determined to take advantage of our reticent president and the fatigued nation he represents. Well, duh, that’s his job, isn’t it? To pursue Russia’s interests? He next jumps to Saudi Arabia and Iran. “US action against Assad, might not deter the Iranians, but it will at least make them think twice about crossing Obama’s red line.”
“Ok Iranian Council. Has anyone thought about the US retaliation?” A hand goes up. “Has anyone else given thought to US retaliation?” Another hand goes up. “Ok, that’s twice, We’re cleared. So when should we begin our action?”
And then he comes to the point.
The contention among members of the Mideast, is that Obama is a weak president. Obama won’t change the opinion by a military strike. But a military strike will at least remind people that American military power is not to be taken lightly.
A weak president? Hmm. He sent a task force into Pakistan and captured Osama. His administration sends drones into three nations daily to hunt and kill citizens of those nations. He orchestrated the toughest economic sanctions against Iran hthat have ever been seen. He hammered out an agreement between Israel and Morsi, that completely shut hostilities down on the West Bank. He changed the regime in Libya by going in with force. He is forcing the Afghans to come to grips with the fact the US is leaving Afghanistan on a strict timetable, with no delaying action.
David must be having hallucinations.
So a dad must belt his child. So a young boss must fire over every single violation. So a married couple must divorce at the first sign of disagreement……
If none of these are true, neither is David’s argument over Syria.
There are many ways we can achieve the same ends, as does a parent, as does a wise boss, as does a willing spouse, without having to immediately take the path of our most forceful action!
The biggest question today…. is why does David no know this?