Sometimes you just have to write…
America, led by Barack Obama, watches idly for two years while Syria, led by Bashar el-Assad, fights a bloody civil war with a range of rebel groups. America doesn’t get involved, but Obama says that the use of chemical weapons would be crossing a “red line,” and would lead to military action.
Barry and Bash, both 10-year-old boys, have never gotten along. Bash is a small boy, and bullies other children to compensate. Barry is big, and doesn’t need to bully anyone; they tend to do what he wants just based on his sheer size. Barry lives on one side of a quiet street; Bash on the other. As long as they stay on their own side, they can just ignore each other.
One day, though, Bash ventures very close to the middle of the street. Barry: “If you cross the street, I’ll beat you up!”
Assad uses poison gas on civilians, ignoring Obama’s warning.
Bash, in a defiant mood, deliberately steps across the middle of the street right in front of Barry, daring Barry to stop him.
Obama tells Assad he’s crossed the red line so there will be military action.
Barry, livid, shouts, “Get back over that line!” Bash stands motionless, just over the line on Barry’s side of the street, staring Barry in the eye. “Make me!”
Barry, walking toward Bash in the street, says “I mean it! I’m gonna beat you up!”
Assad denies the accusation and ignores the threat.
The two boys are chest-to-chest, nose-to-nose in the middle of the street, fisted hands taut by their sides, trembling with rage, ready to swing. “Oh yeah? You and whose army?”
Obama takes steps to get support for military action, both nationally and internationally, but doesn’t succeed.
Barry and Bash seem frozen in place, glaring at close range. They stand and glare some more. Who will back down first? Bash, without taking his eyes off Barry, calls to his best friend, Vlad, who’s big, like Barry. “Hey, Vlad, back me up here!”
Vladimir Putin of Russia gets involved, in the unlikely role of peacemaker. He’s Assad’s supporter, and suggests that the chemical weapons could be handed in to the international community, avoiding military action.
Vlad comes running and whispers to Bash, who’s still nose-to-nose with Barry, “Don’t bother with him. He’s not worth it. I’ll make an excuse so you can go back to your side of the street.”
Assad refuses to budge and rejects Putin’s offer.
Bash says, out loud, “He’s just a big wuss; he’ll never dare attack me!”
Obama continues to work on drumming up support, but leaves the door open to compromise.
Barry and Bash glare at each other, neither willing to back down, but also unwilling to throw the first punch. Vlad looks on, wondering whether they’re going to fight or whether one will back down. The other neighborhood children have stopped what they’re doing to watch the drama, but they don’t get involved.
Which one will back down? Or will they fight?
If Putin can broker a deal, they’ll both come out of it relatively unscathed. Obama will claim diplomatic victory. Putin will too. And Assad will go back to his normal, everyday bullying, (minus chemical weapons) which everyone will studiously ignore.
Or there’ll be military action, which Assad will lose, at least in terms of the fighting, though perhaps not in terms of world and domestic opinion.
Am I the only one who sees a big fat game of chicken here?