|Cat & the Stove|
Many years ago I was in a classroom at University where our philosophy professor discussed the problem of the Cat and the Stove to elucidate the concept of induction.
One day a cat walks into the kitchen. He leaps up onto the stove but his mistress has been brewing a pot of tea and it is very hot. The cat leaps off of the stove and never goes near it again.
The cat has learned its lesson and will not be burned again. The cat has induced from his painful experience that stoves mean pain. But this also means that the cat will never go near the stove again and will miss out on many opportunities to recline on the stove when it is cool and has NOT been in use. Experience is the name we give to our mistakes.
|Destruction of the Temple of Bel|
The West, however, burnt its paws in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now unwilling to re-approach that menacing stove. The idea of taking forceful action against a threat seems to have been repudiated. We fret the cost of going to war (admittedly great) and NOT about the appalling consequences of our inaction. We worry that we would simply be perpetuating the cycle of violence in the Middle East. We have a million excuses for why nothing should be done. And so we dither and the mayhem continues.
Syrian lives matter
Putin offers to take action and he has actually ordered bombing strikes but he is the flawed leader of a dictatorship / kleptocracy http://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/open-letter-to-vladimir-putin.html).
We feel powerless and unable to influence matters in any kind of a positive direction.
What should we do? Are we stuck in a loop, where it is always 1938 and we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again? What can we do when confronted with the hydra-headed villains of today's middle east? Does history provide us with any kind of a guide?
I believe that it does.
At the Tehran conference, "FDR mixed martinis for Churchill and Stalin. FDR asked Stalin how he liked his drink. Stalin answered that it was OK but cold on his stomach." (Source: America Invades, www.americainvades.com)
It takes more than just invasion and decisive military victory to win a lasting peace. It requires economic aid (a Marshall plan for the Middle East?) and support for the development of democratic institutions. It requires sustained political commitment over decades. Do we in the West have the intestinal fortitude for this?
|Spirit of American Youth|
Omaha Beach, FR
We must now join forces with Assad in order to exterminate Isis. Putin's Russia is already attempting to do so. We should welcome his efforts.
We Americans are not really powerless; we have the strongest air force and navy in the world. These can apply devastating pressure on Isis if and only if the political will exists in the West. US Airpower and Western financial might together with mostly Syrian boots on the ground can crush Isis if they are ordered to do so.
|The Big Three of WW2|
|Lest we forget|
9/11 pool, NYC
Moreover, Putin and Obama need desperately to reach a fundamental understanding. After Isis has been defeated there needs to be a unwritten gentleman's agreement that Assad, after a decent interval, must go. He and his family should be offered a secure and comfortable exile. Perhaps to a mansion on the Black sea? Anywhere out of Syria. Forever.
Obama should be mixing a martini for Putin. But then again I must be dreaming because Putin and Obama don't really get along, do they?
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