"[B]y the time the last American combat soldier departs, at the end of next year, Afghanistan will have been at war for thirty-five years. It was Christmas Eve, 1979, when the first of eighty thousand troops from the Soviet Union swept across the border, ostensibly on a brief mission to stabilize a restive neighbor. Since then, war has never died out: the Soviets retreated, in 1989, ushering in an epoch of civil war that helped to bring the Taliban to power, in 1996. And then, in 2001, came the Americans. Entire generations of Afghans—not to mention journalists, diplomats, and aid workers—have come and gone."
Robert Nickels’ Afghanistan: A History
I’d say the chances of missile strikes are now less than one in ten. The sudden turn of events has already led the Syrian government to reverse its longstanding policy of denying that it possesses chemical weapons, a situation that would have Monty Python-like possibilities if not for the daily horrors. That move suggests the better possibilities of diplomacy. …
[E]ven if the plan works, Syria will be no closer to the fall of Assad or to his negotiated departure. The killing will go on. Death by gas might be taken off the table, but children and other human beings, by the thousands, will still be pulverized in indiscriminate shelling and burned to death by incendiary devices. There will be more to celebrate in Washington and at the United Nations than in Homs and Aleppo.
In the strange period since August 21st, when the poison gas attacks took place, the White House has seemed incapable of strategic thinking. The State Department seems incapable of coherent communication. Republicans who never raised a question about Iraq are now in full flight from the use of force because they don’t like the Commander-in-Chief. The United Nations can’t bring itself to condemn chemical weapons regardless of who’s using them. Assad’s war crime has turned into Obama’s embarrassment. Everything is upside down; nothing seems to be working as it should.
“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”
“Translation: We don’t know what we want to do, we won’t do much, and it doesn’t matter when we do it. Who’s with me?”
Stephen Colbert: CRIS-ISH in SYRI-EH