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Some Damned Fool

The shootdown of a Russian SU-24 by a Turkish F-16 is a clear sign of how dangerous Obama's Syria policy has become. The vacuum left by his policy has not only engendered a chaos which has destroyed whole countries, but it has drawn in great powers whose armed forces are operating in dangerously close proximity. It is an disaster waiting to happen.

The potential for misadventure is underscored by in a notice to airmen over Baghdad warning of danger from cruise missiles.

Carriers operating over northern Iraq are being warned about the possibility of cruise missiles being used in the region.

The advisory, contained in a NOTAM for the Baghdad flight information, warns of cruise missile activity, crossing the Kurdistan region from the Caspian Sea to Syria.

If an airliner can collide with a cruise missile, then an SU-24 may sadly run into a Turkish F-16.

It is in everyone's interest, Russia's and Turkey's, to cool the Turkish situation down. But with more Russian forces reported on their way to the theater, the momentum may be too great to reverse. Russian pride might deign be mollified, but it sure to stand upon its dignity somewhere along the line. With the French striking harder and the British pledging to begin airstrikes before Christmas there will be more, not fewer forces, operating in the area at cross purposes to each other.

Obama cannot easily distance himself from this cauldron. Turkey is a NATO ally whose existence is ultimately guaranteed by America's commander in chief. But Ankara does what it does and the situation has now moved into murky water, with Barack Obama left to navigate its shoals.

This image from CNN Turkey shows the track of the Russian warplane cutting into a finger of Turkish territory as it looped in a racetrack.

Cutting the Corner Cutting the Corner

This video appears to show a Russian pilot dead surrounded by men shouting Allah Akbar! though it cannot be confirmed.

History teaches that wars frequently start by accident. Otto von Bismarck who understood that accidental discharge can kill a man just as surely as an aimed shot, observed more than a century ago that "Europe today is a powder keg and the leaders are like men smoking in an arsenal … A single spark will set off an explosion that will consume us all … I cannot tell you when that explosion will occur, but I can tell you where … Some damned foolish thing in the Balkans will set it off."

Present policy has laid the tinder on the arsenal floor -- scores of militias and a half dozen countries -- and everyone has been invited to smoke. Bismarck's phrase: "some damn fool thing in the Balkans" has now become "some damn fool in the White House." But the danger it represents is the same.

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