Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Day Vladimir Putin Pulled a Wyatt Earp

I don't know whether to laugh or marvel at the alleged ingenuity. I really don't think Obama and Kerry are that smart.

London, Monday, September 9th, 2013. Secretary of State John Kerry, who served in Vietnam, made an off-hand remark during a press conference that Syria could avoid a U.S. missile strike if they turned over their chemical weapons--"....every single bit....to the international community in the next week. Turn it over, all of it, without delay, and allow a full and total accounting for that.” Kerry added: “But he isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done, obviously."

Well, before you can tell somebody that they can't do something, you are more than likely interrupted by the guy who just did it.

Russian President Vladimir Putin jumped in, saying that the Russians would be happy to collect Syria's chemical weapons, more than likely because they sold them to Syria in the first place, but that's another story. The hand-over will only work if the U.S. called off military action, he said, and the diplomats have been buzzing ever since.

There are two interpretations that, as of this writing, are making the rounds.

The first says that Kerry spoke off the cuff, and the unplanned remarks have thrown a monkey wrench into the enforcement of the "red line" thing that Obama says he never said. One article I read referred to a Congressional staffer calling this an "unmitigated clusterf***". One pictures Obama standing in front of the mirror trying various chest-puffing poses before going on TV to tell the American people that the very threat of a strike scared Assad so much that he actually wiped with his right hand before grabbing at the thread of hope offered by John Kerry, who served in Vietnam, and knows a thing or two about kicking ass.

The other interpretation says that Obama, knowing the American public is against this, and that he'll likely lose the Congressional "mother may I" vote, spoke with Putin at the G20 summit about this idea, and they agreed that John Kerry would float the boat at the London presser to see if Assad took the bait. The diplomats have been working out the details ever since, and this is how Obama solves problems: without firing a shot, unlike that idiot George W. Bush, who invaded two countries and still couldn't catch Osama bin Laden. Obama will go on TV to tell Americans that he was going to bomb, but now he won't, and isn't he the best president ever?

Like Alice in her Wonderland, I'm not sure what to believe. I know what I want to believe, that Vietnam-vet John Kerry screwed up. But I also know a thing or two about back-room politics. Study the history of the Reagan presidency and you'll find many examples of similar fake-outs and changes in direction. Congressional resistance and public opinion told Obama that he couldn't win. Nobody cares about his red line or dead Arabs. I'm sure the unknown consequences of a bombing--the promised Syrian and Iranian retaliation, the Russians pledging to support Syria--reminded him, as it reminded me, of how World War I started. The first black president didn't want to go down in history--if recorded history were to survive--as the man who began World War III because he drew a red line that he says he didn't draw.

And Vladimir Putin, riding into town like Wyatt Earp--"Hand over your guns and throw up your hands!"--is the one who really saved the day. Without his promise to take charge of the Syrian chemical weapons, John Kerry would still be sitting in London telling us how this wouldn't be possible.

BRIAN DRAKE is a broadcaster in California and the author of The Rogue Gentleman, a thriller in the tradition of Vince Flynn and Brad Thor. Follow him on Twitter.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

More Questions About Syria

I have a feeling Syria is going to dominate our discussions for the next several weeks, perhaps even months, as the government tries to decide what to do. Personally, I think Congress will vote to allow missile strikes. What that will lead to is anybody's guess, either an escalation that will involve ground troops, or, hopefully, nothing at all. But as we approach another 9/11 anniversary, I am concerned with what I read about who is funding and/or supporting the rebels.

When conservative pundits started throwing around statements that al-Qeada was behind the rebel groups, I, at first, shook it off as more right-wing paranoia. When they kept saying it, I decided it was time for a little research, because it is a troubling thought to think that we may be supporting the enemy.

Here is a Business Week article which mentions the terrorist connection in the first couple of paragraphs.

Here is a report from Breitbart.Com that mentions the same thing.

The proof is out there. We indeed may be assisting al-Qeada by bombing Syria. Why is this not being talked about more? Am I not watching the right news outlets, or is the media, in its unwavering support for Obama, ignoring these apparent facts?

We won't get any help from elected Republicans, apparently.

That blithering, good-for-nothing, geriatric gasbag John McCain, who served in Vietnam, is too busy playing video poker during the Syria hearings to bother mentioning the connection, yet he says we need to support military action. John Boner--I mean, Boehner--is for a bombing. Surprisingly, he didn't burst into tears while saying so.

So we can't count on Republicans to ask the questions; we can't count on the media, either; what are we to do?

Proponents say we need to smack down Assad because he's done something terrible; personally, I think we need to assist him in this fight. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, right? If al-Qeada is trying to establish a home base in Syria, with its own government, we need to stop that. They failed to establish a base in Egypt, from all accounts; we kicked them out of Iraq and Afghanistan (though Iraq is still to-be-decided), why not do whatever we can to keep them on the run? We're blowing up their leaders every chance we get; why change the strategy now?

Proponents add that if Assad uses chemical weapons in his own country, he may fire them at Israel. True enough, but, at this moment, that is mere supposition. Iran may fire nukes into Israel, too, but nobody seems upset about that idea.

Assisting Middle East leaders against a common enemy is nothing new. We helped Saddam Hussein fight Iran when it was in our interest, and later used the intelligence gained in that assistance to wipe him off the face of the earth when the time came. We aided the Afghans against the Soviets, and later bombed the daylights out of them when they let bin Laden and his gang stay rent-free.

Assad is no hero. He certainly deserves a smack, but it has to be done right. If this situation weren't so cloudy, I'd probably be writing a different column and supporting John Boner--I mean, Boehner, darn it--and John McCain in their support of Obama, God help me.

Whatever happens, it won't be pretty. If Congress blocks the play, Obama will shoot off some missiles, anyway. Because he has to. He's already gone struttin', drawing his red line, even though he claims there isn't a red line. We can't win here.

BRIAN DRAKE is a broadcaster in California and the author of The Rogue Gentleman, a thriller in the tradition of Vince Flynn and Brad Thor. Follow him on Twitter.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Republicans Want to Kill Kitty Cats

Why is it that the Republican party cannot, for some reason, let loose a candidate who doesn't make himself look like a horses's ass whenever he opens his mouth? Here's what happened:

In New York City last Thursday, a pair of kittens wandered onto subway tracks. Enjoy the cute photo. The transit authority stopped train service for about half an hour while officers rescued the kittens. Some New Yorkers, showing how the city seems to be populated by one funny-talking sourpuss after another, got upset over the delay, mostly because they missed Jeopardy! The consensus among the angry was that the kitties should have been left to die. Nice going, New York. This is why terrorists blow you up.

The most offending part of this story, however, concerns comments made by Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota. When asked if he would have stopped the trains to save the kitties, this Tony Soprano wannabe said, "We don't stop trains fer kittens, fuhgeddaboutit!" Then, realizing he had made an ass of himself, added that such a decision wouldn't be made by the mayor anyway, but it was too little too late. His comment ranks as one of the most asinine quotes ever uttered by a Republican, probably worse than Todd Akin's rape remarks. Is this the best the GOP can do? Does the party expect to win elections with these nimrods? Fuhbeddaboutit! The Democrats just won New York City.

On a side note, we can't help but notice that one of the kittens is black, but President Obama has yet to weigh on on the matter. Perhaps, if Obama had cats, the black cat might be his.

The rescued kittens were taken to a shelter where hopefully they will be adopted by somebody who is not a jerk, but since New York City has a population of almost nine million people, it's going to be a long wait.

One wonders what the reaction would have been had puppies wandered onto the subway tracks, but it's also moot point. As Joe Lhota might say, "Neva happen!" Dogs are smarter than cats. They know better.

BRIAN DRAKE is a broadcaster in California and the author of The Rogue Gentleman, a thriller in the tradition of Vince Flynn and Brad Thor. Follow him on Twitter.