Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

September 24, 2013

We the People: Putinitis and Progress

By Bob Hoyt
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — Success or a failure in the Syrian mess rests on the shoulders of our first black president. If the process he started with Russia succeeds, President Obama will be praised despite the constant critics who were nagging him to do something. When he made a plan to stop the gassing his critics behaved like grade-school bullies who had found another thing to whine about.

And where was the United Nations? Its job is not to hang back and suck its bureaucratic thumb in its world’s headquarters in New York City (an imposing structure sucking in some $7 billion a year for its black hole of bureaucratic peacekeeping). The U.N. building is now undergoing an expensive renovation. Dozing it off into the East River could be a wiser investment.

And where are the conservative hawks who took us to war in Iraq over imaginary weapons of mass destruction? The House of Representatives now claims to be on the side of the American people in opposing the President’s proposed strike on Syria to discourage the use of poison gas. The House is much less eager to follow the will of the people in other matters (health care, immigration and equal rights to name a few). What we have here is the spread of Putinitis. Russian President Putin does not like the U.S. so he votes against anything the U.S. proposes to the U.N. Putinitis causes people in power to be obstinate (right or wrong) just because they can.

It’s too early to judge our failure or success in the Middle East. It’s unlikely that military action against Syria would clarify the issue. But that does not mean that nothing should be done about the madman of Damascus. Whacking Syria would have unintended consequences. Syria is a geopolitical tar baby. The outcome would be very uncertain, but we are one of a few nations with a leader who has the guts and the tools at his disposal for proper whacking.

We are on the road to energy independence if we throw off the chains of Arab oil. We could wash our hands in our own crude oil and leave it all behind. The Middle East has an affinity for religious violence. We might gather up some of our plentiful assault rifles and hand guns and ship them to the Middle East and let them fight out their religious wars. But we would need to warn them that if they use weapons for mass destruction we will make large parking lots of their major cities. Isn’t that why, after all, we have so many nuclear weapons?

More war of any kind is insane. But war is only a slightly better choice than blockading Syria and starving the populace until Assad leaves or becomes toast. Unfortunately, Americans might not have the stomach for daily television images of thousands of ragged children and starving grandmothers holding out their empty food bowls because of the barbaric flatulence of the devil of Damascus.

Right-wing ideologues, victims of Putinitis, point fingers everywhere except at themselves while deepening the feathers in their own nests. Putinitis produces few statesmen and stateswomen. They will be a rarity so long as those who prevail in our elections hold Rush Limbaugh’s inanities in higher esteem than the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson is gone, and Limbaugh is a self-proclaimed Quixote riding a two-headed blind elephant. The right wing needs to let our President do his job. Even Putin says “dah” at least once a year.