I have always been a chatterbox. My father was the strong, silent type. One day, when I was very young – perhaps four or five – I was riding in the backseat of the family car, as he drove us to the beach. And, of course, I was chattering away. Finally, he had heard enough.
“Son,” he said, “before you say anything, ask yourself, ‘Is what I am about to say absolutely necessary?’ ”
Looking back on my life, I wish I had had the willpower to follow his advice.
And today, as I survey the mess in Syria, I wish President Obama had followed a similar course.
I bet he is kicking himself for that comment about the “red line.”
By issuing an ultimatum to the Syrian butcher Assad, he put himself in an impossible position. Obviously, Assad was not affected by the warning. And now, the president must either intervene militarily or lose face before the world.
And that’s a great pity.
As far as I can see, there are no “good guys” in Syria. On one side is a bloodthirsty tyrant; on the other a horde of Islamic zealots who loathe America and the West.
I am filled with sadness and horror by the slaughter and misery in the Mideast. The world cannot, in good conscience, allow it to continue. But, surely, it is the responsibility of the United Nations and other international institutions to seek a remedy? As much as we might wish it, America cannot play superhero to the world. Some things, however noble, are simply not possible.
The president knows this as well as anyone. And I am sure he regrets his rash ultimatum.
Now, with that sabre rattling crowd in Congress asked to make the call, I fear we are on the brink of another disastrous misadventure.