This too is a sign of the US pivot

The Middle-East just doesn’t matter to the US like it used to.

Or as one of Obama’s guys says: “It’s not as if this is a president who has proven to be unwilling to act when he believed it was in our interest, but he’s not going to act when he doesn’t think it’s in our interest.”

G20? more like G-Zero on Syria

A piece by Ian Bremmer that makes the point that lack of action on Syria shows shifting world order.

He concludes:

This G-Zero problem will not last forever. Eventually, the political wildfires that are allowed to burn out of control will threaten enough powerful countries to force a certain level of cooperation. Unfortunately for Syrians, their suffering alone will not be enough.


Which unfortunately for the long-suffering Syrian people, means the US should not weaken itself by getting involved. The US should conserve its energy and look inward to rebuild.

Why Obama sent the Syria question to congress

Obama doesn’t want to launch a missile strike on Syria – he just can’t say so. But there is the Party of No in full bloom over in Congress. Send the issue to them, let them say no, then Obama has political cover to turn to the world and say ruefully, “The people have spoken and I must respect their wish.”

Besides, the Republicans who have had a field-day with Bengazi (or at least tried to) need to start wear a little of the bad PR linked to Syria.

Further, if it divides the Republicans, exposing the chasm behind the interventionists and the isolationists, all the better. This is part of the identity crisis that the Republicans face. And Rand, while he will score short-term points, will still look too radical come 2016. People know the rise of libertarian right has coincided with more misery for the middle-class, and that includes middle-class Republicans and independents.

On the surface, if Obama accepts a congressional ‘no’ on Syria, this will make Obama look weak. But as time moves on, he’ll be able to re-route the blame over to the GOP which is already in a much more dire state of disarray than the the Dems going into 2014. We’ll see. Moreover, avoiding another US military disaster is a greater feather in his cap (and a better legacy and direction for the US) than driving the country into another ditch so he can look like a strongman to the world for a few hours.

If I am right about Obama’s motives, it would be one of the most politically savvy moves of modern politics.

Baddies vs Baddies in Syria – with China and Russia looking on

Australia’s opposition leader (running for prime minister) has gotten flack for describing the Syrian war as baddies vs baddies and being circumspect about any role for Australia. Yet, it’s a reflection of the new realty the west faces, argues Hugh White. Underpinning this realization is the economic reality, of a more powerful set of BRICs nations – that is Brazil, Russia, India, China. If the US and UK saw the Syrian conflict against the backdrop of weak global competitors, calls for action would be more strident. Instead, it is the recognition that the conflict is baddies vs baddies. And two of the biggest countries on the UN Security Council (China, more powerful, Russia, clinging to power) guaranteed to stand up for the interests of Bashar Assad. But as the leaders of China and Russia would certainly agree, sometimes you just have to murder your citizens by the thousands (or going back to the 20th century, tens of millions) just to stay in control. Worth noting also that Germany, which has a larger stake in a secure Syria than the US, has vowed not to get involved. Anyway, this is the new reality, US and UK. Draw up the moat bridges. There are lots of baddies out there. And the US, would be wise to stay out of Syria, as it was wise to stay out of Spain in 1936.