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Friday, September 13, 2013

There Is Diplomacy Happening on My Tee Vee

Yesterday there were six countries that were not signatories to the global convention against the use of chemical weapons and now there is one less. What that means as a matter of implementation on the ground is obviously fraught, but it remains true that this is a diplomatic achievement. This is actually obvious, but apparently that does not mean this is something anybody is going to talk about. You know, every single day that passes in which Syria is not using chemical weapons and the United States is not bombing Syrian civilians in our name is an accomplishment. Diplomacy is talking. Kerry said something, the Russians took some of that up, and the Administration is opportunistically spinning it and moving the process forward in real time. Diplomacy is talking. We don't know what will happen, politics is ineradicably about judging in the face of not knowing things, but in any case we do know much of what is happening because an almost unprecedented amount of it is happening right there on the tee vee, and also we do know what is not happening that could be happening so easily instead because days ago it seemed well nigh inevitable that bombs majorities didn't want to be falling were going to be falling anyway. Do those complaining of fecklessness and "zig-zagging" in the midst of the present distress presumably pine for the idiotic swagger and unswervable resolution in the face of actually changing circumstances that characterized the killer clowns of the last decade? Zig-zagging can be admired as nimble as readily as it can be dismissed as stumbling. It is surreal to hear United States foreign policy in the Obama era described as confused and indecisive because it is stymied by outrageous obstructionism in the UN by Russia, but given that United States domestic policy in the Obama era is likewise described as confused and indecisive because it is stymied by outrageous obstructionism in Congress by the Republicans I suppose this is both surreal and typical. There is of course plenty to criticize in Obama's policies -- I abhor the drone policy, the runaway surveillance, the expansion of the Unitary Executive, and the prospect of the Larry Summers makes me want to tear my hair out, among endlessly many other things -- but the fact that Obama is not magic, and cannot simply wave away the ways in which reactionary forces can abuse actually existing limits in the Security Council and the Constitutional Separation of Powers is not properly one of the things for which Obama should be criticized.

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