August 30, 2016 – Remembering what I said then:
If you can remember back far enough to remember the movie Dangerous Liaisons then I think we could find a way to register our deep, deep disapproval without lobbing bombs at a leader who is just waiting to have us lob bombs at him. (What if all hell breaks loose?) If you remember, in the movie, an aging countess (Glenn Close) had learned to use men as pawns to give to herself the independence and the power to live well without a husband. She had affairs, as many as she wanted and she manipulated the guilt and the fear of exposure the men felt in such a way that when she ended the affair, they found they could not tell. She lived above gossip and although women knew she was not quite the thing, they had no proof and she was accepted by society. Until she fell in love.
She had sent a young man (John Malkovitch) on his way once, but as the film opens we meet a woman who is now showing her age. She is still handsome, but not beautiful. When that young man she fell in love with comes back and implies that he is still interested, she plays her last and most dangerous game, which she loses, rather badly. She still thinks that she has kept her secrets and has enough social cachet to go on. When she appears at the opera and everyone boos her, her reaction is visceral and I’m sure that from that time forward her social isolation is complete.
Maybe we could all; in every city and town all around the world, play, over very large loudspeakers, at a certain time, like midnight at the Prime Meridian on Monday, a sound track of people booing with all of the loudspeakers pointed in the direction of Syria. I wonder if the sound would carry all the way to Syria. Then everyone in the world could turn his/her back on Assad and send Assad into a social isolation that would put him out of commission for the rest of his life. Now that would be retribution and it would feel really fine. I don’t imagine words or even world-wide condemnation could affect someone like that. You know what; I don’t even think bombs will do it.
More of what I said then:
Obviously we are way past the days when social shunning will put even a dent in the entitled arrogant man with the heart of granite who leads Syria. Here is a man who lives in bubble of comfort and privilege and who will not abdicate power even though his “kingdom” has been reduced to rubble around him and his “subjects” have had to flee or die. Here is a man whose every little hair on his smarmy head is glued in place and whose wardrobe costs more than it would take to feed the starving children in the nation that is unlucky enough to be ruled by this egomaniac. But what will finally oust this guy from his palace? Will we declare war on Assad and let the repercussions in Russia fall where they may? What if this becomes World War III and this time Russia is not on our side? I don’t know anyone who really thinks that we shouldn’t tread carefully, harden our hearts against letting grief and empathy dictate policy.
If, as I believe is true, no one is sure about how to handle Syria beyond what we are already doing, then our only choices are to continue to give Syrian refugees room to catch their breath and raise their children and to continue the air assault on Syria, the one that is further complicated by the presence of ISIS (and now Russia).
This is the view from the cheap seats.
This article appeared in my blog at http://thebrissioniblog.blogspot.com/ on 8/30/2013. The current post has been edited a bit.
And then this happened this last week of March in 2018:
The United States, in support of the UK, and to register our disapproval of an assassination attempt in Salisbury, England in broad daylight using an outlawed nerve gas, revoked permission for 60 Russians who are in our country ostensibly as diplomats. They were expelled from America and sent back to Russia.
Then this happened:
All of these nations followed suit and sent Russian diplomats out of their nations in support of the UK. This gave me goosebumps, brought tears to my eyes – ridiculous perhaps, but it is a perfect example of weaponizing global disapproval and, although Putin does not get goosebumps or tears in his eyes, I hope he felt taken aback just a bit. I knew he would retaliate and of course he did. He closed the American embassy in St. Petersburg and sent our diplomats/intelligence people home.
But I was still touched by this show of solidarity especially given the divisive times we live in, the inexplicable affection the American President Trump has shown for Putin, and the even less comprehensible cold shoulder he has given to many of our allies.