Belmont Club

Lengthening Odds

Ann Barnard, writing in the NYT, looks at the long drawn out agony of Syria and wonders whether there’ll be an end to it. In fact, whether there will be a resolution to any of the many international crises besetting the world. She quotes sources who say that the problem isn’t that there is strife in Syria, it is that there’s no fix for it; that nothing anywhere gets better.

Despite that, to the bitterness of Syrians, the world’s diplomatic attention is drifting. Even as Syria’s epic suffering is remaking the human geography of the Middle East and beyond, initiatives to ease the crisis have sputtered and failed to offer effective help. Already tenuous hopes for an internationally brokered peace settlement have further faded as Russian-American relations worsen.

António Guterres, the head of the United Nations refugee agency, said that is in part because there is no obvious path to a coherent global response. Given the world’s growing unpredictability, and competing priorities, “crises are multiplying and more and more difficult to solve,” he said. “Afghanistan is not finished. Somalia is not finished. It’s overwhelming.”

All the while, Syria is falling apart.

She must be patient. Obama is busy with the Ukraine. Oh, wait.   The Daily Beast says, “Obama Has 4 Days to Stop Putin in Crimea”. I guess that means it’s only getting started.

Perhaps Syria is waiting on the resolution of the problem with Iran. But Reuters says that Iran is acting like there’s no solution. “Iran has pursued a longstanding effort to buy banned components for its nuclear and missile programs in recent months, a U.S. official said on Sunday, a period when it struck an interim deal with major powers to limit its disputed atomic activity.” There are not even any consequences for flouting the non-solution solution.

Vann Van Diepen, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-Proliferation, said Iran was still “very actively” creating front companies and engaging in other activity to conceal procurements.

The reported supplies do not contravene last year’s breakthrough agreement between Tehran and six world powers to curb its most sensitive atomic activity in exchange for some limited easing of sanctions damaging its economy.

And Venezuela — remember Venezuela? — “Venezuelan troops stormed a Caracas square on Sunday to evict protesters who turned it into a stronghold during six weeks of demonstrations against President Nicolas Maduro.” So that gets put on the backburner,  together with a collection of pots and pans that’s pretty much climbing to the ceiling. President Obama has so many pans in the fire they’re all burning.

Maybe this is the new normal. Just kick the can down the road and declare the problem solved.  Here’s a classic video game that might cheer up the Chief Executive. It captures the situation exactly.

[jwplayer config=”pjmedia_richardfernandez” mediaid=”35373″]

For those who want to play the real Space Invaders, to train for becoming part of the administration’s elite diplomatic crisis team, click here.


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