Monday, September 9, 2013

Russia, Syria and "High Noon"

Nobody's happy about attacking Syria.  But nobody can really turn their backs on the pictures of dead children, the victims of Assad's gas attack.  Nor can we Americans ignore the very personal threat such weapons place upon us in our highly concentrated cities.  Nor can we ignore the repercussions of not enforcing what we claim to be international law.  Would any "rogue" states ever again respect anything we say?  And how long can we expect Israel to sit and wait to be hit by Syrian gas?

Now comes a whisper of hope from  -  of all places  -  Russia.  Until now Russia has been a major barrier to hope and peace in a number of situations, among them Iran and its alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons.  But as of this morning Russia is reportedly urging Syria to hand over all its chemical weapons to the international community.  That is a good solution to a bad problem.

What has prompted Russia to break with its normal "nyet" attitude?

Perhaps it is Obama as The Poker Player.  In real life, he actually is a poker player and, I suspect, a good one.  You know the song "you gotta know when to hold them, know when to fold them."  If this Russian proposal works out, it's likely attributable to Obama's knowing when to stand firm even as the American public, the media, foreign allies, members of his own party, and most of Congress flee his side.  There is a very determined quality to Obama, a sense that when he says something he really means it.  After all he said he would kill Bin Laden and he did just that.  We Americans tend to forget even our own names, but other countries, including Russia, remember what we say and do.

I am reminded of that great old movie "High Noon".  It's a realistic morality play, the portrait of the hero as an aging man.  It was revolutionary in its day for its shift in the age of a hero, and it still has a lot to teach.  One of its lessons is that the more alone a person is when choosing to face danger, the stronger that person appears as an individual.  Anyone can stand at the head of a throng.  It takes real determination to face a bad situation when all have abandoned you.

Standing virtually alone as he does, Obama looks more and more determined.  The Russians have apparently concluded he really means business.  And, as of today's headlines, it appears Assad may believe it too and is starting to whine and to seek a reprieve.

We may come out of this situation with more than just an end of Assad's chemical threat.  We may be seeing Russia taking a positive step in world peace.  That would be an absolute and remarkable first in my long, long memory.

It is devoutly to be wished.  And if it happens it would constitute something no other president has secured since World War II.  As with passage of the health care act, Obama seems able to do what no man has done before.  

Shouldn't some of us liberals therefore be at least willing to do what the heroine of "High Noon" did and momentarily shelve our anti-violence principles so we can "get the back" of a man who deserves our support in standing firm against an evil violence.

Don't we too have to know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em?  Don't we owe Obama some measure of faith even though George W did so much to destroy faith?  After all Obama had faith in us.  He had faith in our willingness to elect an African American when there was absolutely nothing in America's record to show that such a thing was possible.  He's also had faith that no one would shoot him.  That's remarkable faith, given America's record on assassination and racial hatred.

I wish I weren't old and crippled with arthritis like Lon Chaney, Jr. in "High Noon",  the aged gunfighter who cannot fight any more.  It's up to you younger folks to be more active in standing by this good man who stands so alone against such a very evil threat in the world.

At least think about it.  Don't just run for the exits along with the crowd.  When "everyone" is for or against something, chances are they are wrong.

Again  -  think about it.  



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