Yesterday, the Turkish Army was bombarding Syrian targets across the border in response to an earlier shelling of a Turkish village where five people died. This was the most recent in a string of shells from Syria landing in Turkish villages.
In addition, the Turkish parliament gave the government the cross-border operation authorization it was seeking.
Russian authorities were quick to butt in:
Russia has expressed concern that some provocation could occur at the Turkish-Syrian border that may give NATO the green light to intervene in Syria.
Why did the Russians issue this warning?
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
For its part, NATO demanded
immediate halt to aggression against Turkey:
"The alliance continues to stand by Turkey and demands the immediate cessation of such aggressive acts against an ally, and urges the Syrian regime to put an end to flagrant violations of international law," the statement said.
Now, we are in solid Hans Blix territory:
Nothing happens in NATO without American leadership.
And, the administration seems to be cowering. The White House saw it fit to release statements regarding the extension of NATO chairman Rasmussen's tenure and elections in Georgia, but, so far there seems to have been no comment. Similarly, so far, there is no public statement from the U.S. State Department re-iterating the United State's intention to honor its commitment to the defense of an ally.
For practical training in avoidance, see the daily briefing on October 3.
Thus, the image is complete: The U.S. will bow to Russian demands that NATO not get involved in a potential conflict.
If you haven't looked at a map lately, Turkey is squeezed between the former Soviet Union in the north, and Syria, Iraq, and Iran in the south and the east.
Iraq is basically a dominion of Iran now. And, Syria and Iran have, shall we say, always cooperated closely. Russia has bases in Syria, and exerts influence over Iran and Iraq. Thus, the anti-American quarter is in place.
Having all them see the administration's desire to stay out of whatever mess will not make them cut back Russians' desire to eliminate Turkey which has stood in the way of their expansion for a very long time. Instead, they will be even bolder, expecting that they can basically do whatever they want without a peep from this administration.
The administration's plan seems to be to lock the door and get under the bed as thugs are threatening their neighbors, hoping that no one will bang on their door. Unfortunately, thugs get bolder when they know you are scared of them.
So, coming back to the debate. In his closing statement, the President repeated, seemingly without conviction, that Osama is dead and al-Qaida is weak or some such thing. Well, sir, al-Qaida took over the U.S. Embassy in Egypt. al-Qaida performed an organized attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, killed the U.S. Ambassador, and like left with files pertaining to people co-operating with the U.S. in Libya. The U.S. still hasn't been able to establish control of the consulate in Benghazi. Everyone looking at the issue, gauging U.S. strength asks,
How is this even an issue for the world's only superpower?
While I have never bought into the notion that President Obama is a any kind of genius, what I saw yesterday was a man who seemed to have realized that he is now just a spectator to the unfolding of history towards an incredibly dark and grave future.
The only thing that might give pause to the enemies of world peace is the prospect of Romney in the White House.
Not because I am fully confident in his ability and intention to stand up to the former Soviet Union and its allies. Simply because he is not Obama, and therefore there is some hope that things might change for the better with someone who understands the importance of projecting strength in a dangerous neighborhood.