Obama, Syriah and the virtue of being patient

Ref: “Speech Obama/Biden White House on Syriah” – http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/08/31/statement-president-syria

Obama is a friend of the cinema. And he revealed his love for the cinema today in the speech on Syriah and the use of chemical weapons in Syriah. The use of WMD we all do not really have proof of whether Assad used it against his own people or the rebels using it to force Obama over the read line he drew himself (really?) weeks ago. He did so, assisted by Biden and Kerry, by quoting two movies word by word, line by line without making that clear to the audience: “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Dark Knight”-Trilogy. And what this could tell all of us is alarming, it is not the view of a civilized president, but eventually somebody who believes that he has turned into a hero himself.

“A country faces few decisions as grave as using military force, even
when that force is limited.  I respect the views of those who call for
caution, particularly as our country emerges from a time of war that I
was elected in part to end.  But if we really do want to turn away from
taking appropriate action in the face of such an unspeakable outrage,
then we must acknowledge the costs of doing nothing

If you are a movie lover, you may have immediately noticed the lines from Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow). But it was not a movie, it was Obama addressing the american people quoting a hollywood movie. How did this happen and what is the intention of it?

As for the majority of Americans, cinema is not only for entertainment. Cinema is storytelling. Storytelling always was in history the story of winners and losers. Literature tells these stories and some of the, the Ilias or let’s say Citizen Kane, Godfather or Batman in movie history survive centuries.  And the story usually does the easy trick of drama and separates the world between the good and the evil. History, we all know this since the roman empire of the popes reading of the bible,  is always told by the winners. Whether it is the Illias, that made Agamennon, the uniter of Greece, a monster he never was or whether it is Citizen Kane, that made Hearst an even bigger media monster as it was told  – an American media monster of course. However, there is a story after the storytelling of great literature. It is the literature after Freud and it was invented by James Joyce more or less, the storytelling of the innerself and the acceptance of good and evil being a unity, not two persons. This has not reached the masses yet and everyone who ever tried to read the gutwrenching lines of Ulysses knows why. “Apocalypse Now” is still understood as a war movie that it is not, it seems almost nobody in the audience understood or was able to realize what was the story of Kurtz “In the Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad. Or Faust by Goethe, it seems most of the readers are fascinated by evil as some where with Hitler, not grasping a thought that they are fascinated about the evil, savage side in their innerselves.

Split personalities have a huge comeback these days. The most popular, for sure, is the story of the dark knight, the massive success of the Batman trilogy and nowadays it was revealed who is among its biggest Fans: Obama himself. Not only the cool gadgets, the drones, the stealth bombers, only Batman comes close to what Obama sees the world – he is not voted by the world to be the Batman and fight for justice, nope, he does so because the cowards do not strive for the good and fight for it – because bravery it is for heros, not for discussions that may last forever.

The second movie he mentioned line by line was “Zero Dark Thirty”. It is the heroic story done by a democratic supporter (Kathryn Bigelow) about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Not a miracle it won the “Albert Speer” Price for best propaganda (http://21stcenturywire.com/2013/02/24/zero-dark-thirty-wins-albert-speer-oscar-award-for-best-propaganda-picture/). It even won her an oscar for best director – despite it being clearly a political movie. It was unclear on the use of secret material, most importantly, it showed how decision making in the white house is done nowadays.

Any lawyer should be disgusted, when he hears the lines on “evidence” brought forward. It is chrystal clear not only to Vladimir Putin, that there is a high likelyhood statistically for Assad being responsible. However, the likelyhood may be equal or higher, that in civil war rebels used chemical weapons to force Obama crossing his self formulated red line and attacking the civil war counterparty, the ruling king.

The line was “what would be the cost of doing nothing”. What was meant is: It may be the case that there is no 100% proof for Assad being responsible and therefore we do nothing. George Bush Jr. was in the same situation as Obama now is confronted with material (Facts masked as “evidence”) to proof the propability of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. Jr. did not have the time to wait for evidence as is Obama and he believes he is under pressure to show strength and not wait for the United Nations to be presented with evidence.When you are the only cowboy in the salon, I say, better sip a whiskey and wait for the bad cop to arrive first.

The hunt for Osama bin Laden was heroic in view of many Americans. Obama hesitated, waited for proof and acted without evidence. He, an American, finally took a risk. I say, Americans have to take risks, that is what makes their country great. But proof was not avaible to Obama, it is now clear that there was only a propability of 40% Osama bin Laden being in the Abottabad compound that he was finally captured and killed by the Seal Team 6. What made this so dangerous was “loosing some canaries in Seal Team 6”, the risk was Bin Laden not being there, evidence of the USA violating sovereignity of Pakistan, a nuclear power? No, it was the risk of dropping the pants in public. This was the risk Obama took and it won him the second term. And the risk with cognitive bias is, that if behaviour once was successful, it is repeated.

The situation now is different and Obama tricked himself into wrong conclusions. Assad may be cruel, but he is not a terrorist. He may be a radical, but to his own people, not outside Syriah. Not to the US, not to Turkey or Nato. It is not 100% clear that Assad was responsible now – it will eventually be in 10 days when the US inspectors have done their job. They may find evidence for the use of chemical weapons, but nobody will be able to assess who fired the grenades – that is not possible and you cannot bring evidence for it that is without doubt. And the is the UN and they have a prosecutor now – he will collect evidence and make his case. We do not need a hero to punish evil, no Batman with stealth drones, we know Obama loves the Batman and his strenght. But this is a movie that attracts weak children – boys that want to become heros. But not for the good, for their case that they believe to be right. It is middle ages again, now with a lawyer from Havard. Before it was an economist from Yale. Who is more dangerous if he makes his case now with logic or before with his gut?

Lawyers know the term “in dubio pro reo”. Nowadays, forces use something different than law to win. Google, Facebook, Amazon – they use stochastics. They use propabilities. As does Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Freshfields. High paid lawyers are now only aides for even higher paid internet or finance moguls. If you have ever dealt with an american M&A office, you will have heard propabilities all over the place before you start to fight for you right at a court.

This is unfortunately not logic, not right – it is the logic of tyranny and superiority. It is the logic of boys and war games. Statistics is a quite fresh science. It does try to help to give you answers in situations, where evidence is not 100% clear and you lack time to investigate thoroughly. Decision making without having the full pictures. This happens everywhere these days, whether it is politics, media frenzy or gossips: If you can present credible proof faster than others, you may win the game. Investment Banking, Mergers and Akquisitions, Amazon recommendations, it is everywheren. And unfortunately, most people did not get this at school. It is not the new religion of logic – it is simply another tool to help and it can be used for good and evil of course.

Syriah is not about winning the game. The US has won the cold war but they have fallen back into the logic of cold war when confronted with Putin. Putin seems to be one step further and questions their logic and asks for proof. The US fails to do so right now. Further, Obama and Kerry seems to see themselves in Movies: Batmans and Zero Dark Thirty – we can be the heroes again. But this time, here history repeats itself, in the same situation as George W. Bush was after crime was done. When WTC collapsed, everyone in the states asked for revenge, Afghanistan was attacked although Pakistan was the home of the Taliban. But Afghanistan had no nuclear warheads, a WMD, that is now up for discussion in Syriah.

Dempsey, Chief of Staff made it clear: Entering a civil war and weapons of mass desctruction avaible to Assad means that there is no propability for winning without heavy losses – as it was in the cold war. Obama really is lost and only weak presidents such as Hollande are at his side. It is mindboggling that Turkeys Erdogan is under little emotional control when he watches children dying and suffering. However, the crime was committed and we all do not have the answer. There is no proof right now. It is for the prosecutors of the United Nations to decide whether there is enough evidence to make a case. It is not there so far.

Obama mentioned something after watching “The Dark Knight Rises” that was even more revealing at the White House screening room. He believed that Catwoman was better than Batman. If you deduct the movie analogy to the real world, one can assume that as all flic lovers, Obama was seduced to see himself as the Dark Knight whereas his wife, Michelle, may be another impersonation for Catwoman. Another analogy, both, Batman and Catwoman are called criminals by the civilized worlds. But the agents of Batman and Catwoman, Chief Inspector Gordon, calls the masses “cowards”.What did Michelle tell his huspend how “Assad should pay for this clearly put case”? Obama is a lawyer, he is no prosecutor elected by the United Nations Court in Den Hague. Therefore he should rest his case until evidence is brought forward to all of us. Vladimir Putin will agree in case the case is clear.

By the way: Did Angela Merkel make it clear what she believes is the case?
 And did not even the Economist state get your facts straight first?

Thank you for your patience. It is a virtue.

Leave a Comment