Easter — Thoughts of Peace

Easter Sunday with the family.  We enjoyed a good meal and were good company for each other.  Thoughtful.  Caring.  Sharing.  That was how I was brought up. And if I ever forgot that, I have 20-something cousins that would surely bring me back to reality in a heartbeat.  You know, I like that about family.  We all were taught to be sensitive and thoughtful about each other.  And, above all, to take care of each other.   There’s not a lot of that in the world today.

Well, today’s headlines clearly aren’t for the faint of heart.

Kim Jong Un is like a defiant two-year old who’s missed his nap and is becoming angrier as we speak.

President Trump — who did the right thing by responding to Bashar al-Assad’s horrific chemical weapons attack against his own countrymen, women and children — apparently felt so empowered by that move that he decided to drop the “Mother of  All Bombs” in Afghanistan.  Be careful, Mr. President.  All that power can easily go to one’s head.

Trump is still looking for a win — and it is becoming more desperate as the days go on.  Be careful, sir, that little men like the petulant Kim Jong Un doesn’t end up playing you.

It’s too bad, Mr. President, that you don’t have a family like I do and, like a lot of people around the world do.  You know, the ones who will step out and right your sails for you .. because they care … and at the same time, in an ever-so-humble way, point out what could have been done better.  A moral compass, you might say.  We all need that for each other .. related or not.  We are all in this together.

May peace be with you and your family this Easter Sunday … from my heart to yours …. shalom.

A Line In The Sand

Of course I’m going to talk about it.  How could you not? That would be like not talking about the elephant in the room, right?  So, let’s get to it …

On Thursday, President Trump stepped away from his normal demeanor, perhaps at the urging of his military strategists, and concluded two days’ worth of discussion concerning Syria’s unconscionable use of chemical weapons against their own citizens by sanctioning a limited airstrike in Syria.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Bashar al-Assad gave a nod to this military action.  He’s tired of the war.  He’s running out of money and running out of resources.  He sees the war as an obstacle to a life of wealth that could be attributed to Syria’s vast oil reserves.  Syria is, after all, the only significant oil-producing country in the Eastern Mediterranean region (which is Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories).  And with that wealth, of course, comes power — perhaps even a seat at the world table.  But, first, he must end the relentless, entrenched ground fighting that has paralyzed his country for six years.  And it’s complicated.  As of January this year, his government held 34% of Syria, ISIL held 33%, the Syrian Democratic Forces held 20% and 13% was held by rebel forces.  Talking wasn’t getting it done.  Brut force wasn’t getting it done, either.  But chemical weapons?  The perfect way to obliterate all and begin again. A shortcut, you might say.

But he didn’t count on America’s response — America’s very calculated response. We didn’t go after personnel — to the contrary, we gave Russia a big head’s up, enough so that they could extradite their personnel and aircraft.  And you can bet that Russia gave al-Assad the head’s up, as well.  We were counting on that. But what we did go after was their aircraft and reports are that 20 were destroyed.  Syria does have as many as 450 more Russian-made jet fighters, so our success was minimal in the overall picture — but it spoke volumes in its wake.

Should we have stood up and sent a message?  There are legitimate concerns over being sucked into a political war that has no level playing field.  Understood. But when is it that you stand up for innocent victims — not just soldiers who have volunteered to be in harm’s way  — but women and children, as small as babies, that are utterly defenseless in these circumstances?  They are trapped in a life of daily bombing, sniper attacks, lack of adequate food and medical supplies, left behind in a war that they cannot gain from.  How could we not respond?

We did what we had to do — for humanity — no apologies.  This time, it is America that has drawn a line in the sand.