I've often been asked by friends to use my blog for other posts besides just music - finance - world affairs - social issues. And I've resisted, thinking that if readers want something more than music comments, there are many other sources to go to. But i realize I haven't been blogging lately. And the reason is that there are some truly horrible things going on in the world, and I haven't been thinking of art.
And I realize that all of us who can speak out, should. So, I'll start with Syria. Having voted for Obama twice, like many supporters I have had my disappointments. He has been dealt the most challenging deck of cards since FDR, and has probably done a better job than most of our past elected presidents would have. But the lack of vision and understanding of the unraveling of the Middle East is a problem. And it isn't going to go away by neglect. There is an Arabic word for the Sunni/Shia schism "Fitna". And an old Arabic curse "Allah's curse on him who awakens it". We can of course blame the Bush administration for Iraq's civil war. It's not clear they had ever heard of the schism. But in truth Bin Laden and Zawhiri radically underestimated the depth of the schism also, perhaps because Bin Laden's mother is a Yemeni Shia. It's not an accident that Shia minorities rule over Sunni lands, and vice versa. This was set up by the French and English with the notorious Sykes-Picot secret agreement at the end of World War I to divide and conquer. And it lasted almost a hundred years. So the re-shaping, and reclaiming, of tribal lands is going to be a very long, torturous process. There will be Shia lands, and Sunni lands, and Kurdish lands. But genocide is genocide, and Assad is a second generation mass murderer. His father slaughtered 40,000 or so in Aleppo, and junior was widely thought to be softer and gentler. That has proved false. We now have 100,000 dead, 2 million displaced, and Jordan and Lebanon destabilized. What more will it take? 200 dead children on a hospital floor? 3,000 gassed and over 300 or more dead? This final incident will probably provoke some response. It's not going to be easy, but one must try. Putin wants his Syrian access to the Mediterranean. Let him have it, in exchange for handcuffing, or eliminating Assad. The Alawites will probably wind up with their coastal tribal lands anyway. The English and French well underdstand their role in this mess, and can be of strategic help. While China and Russia will doubtless veto UN action, a NATO no fly zone (yes, I understand it is more difficult than Libya) is feasible. Saudi, the Egyptian military, and Israel all want stability. The really hard lifting of diplomatic pressure needs to finally start. Lobbing a couple of cruise missles, hopefully accurately, is not going to start to solve the problem. In addition to a no fly zone, there needs to be a no shooting zone - and that is going to take Putin (and Putin pressuring Iran and Hezbollah) , and the Saudis' (and Quatr and all the rival Emirates) all on board. I think John Kerry is up to the task. It will be very difficult. But to do nothing, is to lose our humanity.