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Trust and Verify and Vomit

Is Dithering Always Bad?

By threatening to bomb and set off more violence in Syria, the US president argues, he flushed out the Russian president’s peace feeler, a deal that seems to hang on the removal of chemical weapons from Syria in exchange for an end to the US military goal of regime change. That is, Assad stays in Syria if he gives up chemical weapons, which amounts to a major concession from both sides.

Many Americans wished from the January 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama that he would be an assertive leader willing to fight for progressive domestic change and international peace. It has not been the case. But it’s better late than never to establish serious negotiations as a trump for the United States’ macho predilection for aerial bombing. The John McCain pro-bombing lobby likes to agonize over how “weak” and “amateur” the President of the United States looks following Putin’s Times op-ed. The charge is that Obama let Putin “play him” -- or the President of the United States allowed himself to become the Russian president’s “bitch.”

This kind of glib, manhood-slamming criticism is to be expected. In Latin America, the right would run a TV ad of a fist crushing two eggs. In fact, the more ludicrous the critiques get the more it seems arguable that Barack Obama has, belatedly, actually moved himself to the left in what amounts to the US republic’s struggle with US imperialism.

Senator Robert Menendez and Judge Jeanine PirroSenator Robert Menendez and Judge Jeanine Pirro

Fox News’ Judge Jeanine Pirro nailed it when it comes to gonad-ripping criticism. She recently lectured Obama on what it is to be a leader:

“Leaders are direct, clear and concise,” she intoned. “Leaders don’t dither or vacillate, get boxed into corners or play games. They make the hard decisions.” She cited Ronald Reagan, an ex-actor in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, as a leader who knew how to make the really hard decisions. She did not mention George W. Bush, but no doubt he was also fantastic at making the hard decisions.

Pirro’s point is that making the “hard decisions” without “vacillating” or “dithering” is always best. The problem of bad information or garbage in, garbage out doesn’t bother her. This is where bomb-lovers and hanging-judges like Pirro get it wrong. Now that it’s ten years too late to do anything about it, it’s clear the Iraq War was a hard decision that would have benefited from some significant vacillation and dithering. Vacillation and dithering by world leaders inclined to bomb and kill people by the thousands can be a good thing for the citizenry of the world.

Like any difficult, real-world negotiation, the one President Obama has landed in -- thanks to Vladimir Putin -- is a huddle of people who may make each other vomit. In their darkest moods, they may harbor psychological desires to make the other guy evaporate under a bombing raid. As Jean Paul Sartre suggested: “Hell is other people.” And when you forego bombing for negotiation you are forced to dither with those other people.



story | by Dr. Radut