John Lennon sang, with a smug attitude: “All we are saying, is give Peace A Chance”. It could be argued that was justified, when the matter at hand was just the taking over of Saigon by Hanoi. (And the resulting flight of a few million “boat people”.)
A few years later, a calm maniac, who would later declare the singer an hypocrite, fired 5 hollow point bullets at John Lennon. Four of these bullets hit Lennon. Lennon was not ready for this: he was neither wearing a bulletproof jacket, nor had he a bodyguard with him. He declared he had been shot. Later he acknowledged to the police rushing him to the hospital that he was John Lennon, indeed. Every one of the four bullet was lethal. Only making Lennon nearly as cold as ice could have saved him. (But that technique is not used yet, 35 years later.) Lennon had been “peaceful”. However, Lennon’s insane aggressor judged him aggressive: aggression is, all too often, only in the mind of the beholder. Peace did not give Lennon a chance. Had a well trained armed bodyguard been there, Lennon would have survived.
Since then, authorities have kept Lennon’s murderer in jail, trusting force more than the promises of the assassin. When serious mayhem arises, men and women of good will intervene. Such should be the case in Syria, a place ripped apart by a terrible war.
In the grander scheme of things, peace, love, just as war and hatred, come and go. All what matters is to encourage, or carry on with, the most appropriate behavior at the time, given the circumstances.
Two years ago, the dictator Assad of Syria, son of Assad Senior, another dictator, killed more than 1,500, in just one chemical attack, crossing a red line Obama had brandished. France and the USA decided to punish Assad.
The Assad family is the number one cause of the civil war in Syria. As Assad launched the civil war against pacific demonstrators, and then put in the streets the Islamists of ISIS (who were in jail), terminating his brand of power was entirely appropriate.
However, at the last moment, Obama mysteriously called off the attack. France backed-off. This time indeed France was not even supported by Great Britain,differently from September 1, 1939 (when Britain had joined France in opposing Hitler).
Now Putin has surged ahead, sending fighter jets to support Assad. The reason? Russia has its sole basis on the Mediterranean on the Syrian coastal strip. For some reason, Russians consider they have to have such a basis.
France and the USA had a chance to get rid of Assad, and finding somebody more reasonable, and cleaner to lead the secular Syrian government. Now they are in the strange position to have to tag along Putin. But there is no choice. So the Obama administration has made some openings.
Another aspect where the USA has no choice: the failure to act against Assad in a timely manner, besides killing another quarter of a million Syrians, has created eleven million refugees.
In the 1939-1940 period, the USA distinguished itself by refusing all genuine Jewish refugees (hundreds of thousands got stuck in France, which was not cool, because France lost the first round with the Nazis, and got half invaded). Anxious not to look as vicious as in 1940, the USA has now announced it would accept 100,000 war refugees… next year. One cannot stop progress.
What is the conclusion of all this?
Who is going to run the empire? Putin? Which empire, some will sneer? The United Nations empire, of course. It exists, and it even has a law, the UN Charter, someone has to manage it, and, more pragmatically, to impose it.
The problem with the UN is fundamentally the same problem as with Europe: the European Union exists, it has to be managed. It has to be led. France and Germany, when awake, make a reasonable, and just forceful enough, leader of Europe.
For the UN, the leadership has to come from the three permanent Security Council members which are also the leading Western military powers. At this point, it’s pretty much the USA, and France (as Britain is increasingly unwilling to spend money on defense). However, Obama “leads from behind”, and France is already running a deficit more than 50% above the Euro Group limit (and gets little help from Germany which is well below the minimum defense spending theoretically agreed to inside NATO).
How to remedy all this? The USA ought to cooperate more with France, which, not being an island, but, instead, at the crossroads, instinctively understand the necessity to go to war. A way to cooperate is to foster the French military-industrial complex, instead of viewing it just as a deadly competitor.
For example, the USA ought to give up on the worthless and dangerous F35 program, and, conceding defeat, just buy the French Rafale.
France has not remained completely despondent: an accord was just signed with Morocco to train Islamist preachers there. This is actually an astute move. A dance with the Dark Side. But this is a long story by itself, and better treated another time.
The Romans used to say: “Si vis pacem, para bellum!” (If you want peace, prepare war). We are beyond that point now: war is here. In 1936, the Western democracies stayed out of the wars Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy had launched. That enabled the dictators to train their armies, and gain unwarranted confidence. In the shock of one week in May 1940, the French and British armies found, the hard way, that the training of their air forces was insufficient.
We don’t want such a surprise again. Putin has demonstrated he was ready to invade countries. To accept to be led by him is troubling, to put it mildly. Especially as we have a precedent: in the 1930s, the Western democracies agreed to be led by Stalin against Franco and by… Mussolini, against… Hitler. What happened next is that both Stalin and Mussolini allied themselves with Hitler against… the French Republic (hence the fall of the latter).
One cannot “lead from behind”. Obama will stay an object of ridicule, in the eyes of history, and he has more than ten million refugees to contemplate.
All over, the West is cooperating with horrendous dictators: in Gambia (!), in Eritrea, in all places in Africa which contain precious ores, etc. In Libya, the liberation of the country from the bloody dictator ought to have been followed by a military and administrative occupation, with the aim of proposing an association with Europe (the same ought to be extended to Algeria and Morocco, or Egypt).
The empire exists, and it has to exist, lest war spread uncontrollably. Simply, it’s not Mr. Putin who should be left to administer it, because Obama leads from way in the hell back there.
When peace does not work, one has to give war a chance. The alternative is meaningless annihilation.