What is it with Men?/Syria

What is it with men? Do women draw “red lines”? I have
never heard a woman draw such a line, a line in the sand, a line on the
playground; a line which everyone understands means “cross this line and there
are consequences”, physical consequences, unpleasant consequences (well maybe women
do that with their offspring). Netanyahu drew a red line about nukes and Iran.
This red line has not been crossed yet but Israel lives in the hood and is used
to lobbing bombs at neighboring aggressors. Obama also drew a red line that
implied America would punish Assad in Syria if he used chemical weapons against
his own people. Is this a testosterone thing? But in the case of Assad, a
totalitarian monster who will fight in the face of millions of refugees (his
own people), and who will make them flee their own country; a little thing like
a “red line” won’t stop a man like this. It acts like a red cape acts on a
bull. But the red line has been drawn, the gauntlet has been laid down, and
Assad has challenged Obama to a duel. Dueling has been illegal for a long, long
time. A red line can be redrawn. That is one option. Just redraw the damn line.
It doesn’t really matter if we look weak because we aren’t weak. It shows
wisdom to be able to back down from a position when someone is baiting a trap,
baiting a trap with dead children. How does a decent man beat a monster? He
uses his brain, not his muscle.

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 well live 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 sent that
young man (John Malkovich) on his way too, 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 approbation could affect someone like
that. You know what; I don’t even think bombs will do it.

I don’t really know what Obama should do on behalf of
America anymore than it sounds like anyone else does, but this situation seems
to call out for a creative and global strategy. People who do monstrous things, I’m thinking,
often have very hard shells.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com