Friday, August 23, 2013

Syria and the Secrets of Diplomacy

A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer - Bruce Lee

Over a year ago, I wrote about the toothlessness of the United Nations and many of its members as the travesty in Syria continued to unfold at that time.  My original musing is here - Syria and the Elephant in the Room.

In that musing, I compared the UN to Facebook:

The UN and Facebook – Similar Models

This is why the UN reminds me of how more than 90% of people use Facebook.

There’s a lot of talk and idea exchange.

Heated words or words of praise flow freely between “friends”.

But in the end, little of any real value is accomplished.

In August of 2012, the UN was expressing concern that "”Syria was being ripped apart” as described here.

President Obama has warned Syria repeatedly as described in this Slate article.

And now the President is indicating that the situation in Syria is upgraded to a “grave concern”.

So now that we are in a situation where there are more than 1 million Syrian children refugees and over 100,000 civil war deaths (according to the UN), does the situation assessment “grave concern” mean that we will see action soon or does it mean that we still need to progress through the conditions of:

- very grave concern

- extremely troublesome but inconvenient right now

- tremendously worrisome situation

- appalling tragedy

- super duper disgusting tragedy

- outrageous crimes against humanity

Or will our outrage get redirected when something more convenient, useful or valuable pops up in the meantime?

It’s difficult to say, especially when it is difficult to see what motivates our diplomats.  During an emergency session of the UN Security Council this week, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power didn’t even bother attending because she had a personal trip to make.  The funny thing was that she was one of the people who was insisting that the UN take stronger action regarding Syria.

When we steamrolled over Iraq, one of the reasons we gave (besides the weapons of mass destruction debacle) was that we were allegedly freeing the citizens from a tyrannical dictator.

While we have such a situation in Syria, the world continues to do nothing but express “grave concern” as the years go by.

Which means to me that either we are not asking the right questions or no one is smart enough, inspired enough or has motivation enough to be bothered answering them.

Yes, I understand the complexities of competing international objectives, with the Russians selling weapons to the Syrians and all of that stuff.

I get it.

But as usual, it boils down to the alchemic science of diplomacy.

Ahhhh the art of diplomacy.

It is always serving a master and moving towards an end goal.

It’s too bad that the nature of the master and the end goals are not apparent to or seemingly in the interests of the planet whom the diplomats claim to be serving.

In service and servanthood,



Do you want to know why nothing is happening in regards to Syria?  I believe the answer becomes clear when one considers what I described when I wrote Solving Puzzles–Follow the Breadcrumbs and Asking Questions That Get Answered.

Addendum – August 27, 2013

I’m not certain that the current US strategy, a military strike against Syria by Thursday, is the right one.  This is especially true given that at the time of this post, it had not been confirmed that gas had even been used and if it has been used, which side used it.

Whenever strategic action is taken, there always has to be a “and now what?” which follows each step – and the answer should be known before the step is taken.

So if, despite Russian / Chinese protests, the US strikes Syria with cruise missiles, we still come to that very question, regardless of whether the Syrian regime is toppled or not.

The question of “and now what?” will still need to be answered.

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