1. It’s Monday, December 19, 2016.
2. The Electoral College meets today in the state capitals and Washington, D.C. It will formally elect Trump as president.
3. Bobby Timmons was born this day in 1935. He’s the pianist who wrote “Moanin’,” which was made famous by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, with whom Timmons played. For this time of year, his 1964 “Holiday Soul” is a wonderful addition.
4. If you aren’t moved to tears by what’s transpiring in Aleppo, you’re a freakin’ stone.
Watch this humanitarian tragedy unfold is a reminder that the human race, for all its claims of moving civilization forward, doesn’t always do that.
We’re seeing children on the brink of death from dehydration. Buses of civilians trying to escape the hellhole getting harassed by rival factions in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s coalition of death. A city that was once Syria’s economic capital reduced to rubble and open fires in the streets as people try to stay warm.
5. So what do we and the rest of the world do?
It’s kind of a pathetic question. The world should have done something long ago. This isn’t an all-of-a-sudden catastrophe – there wasn’t a natural disaster that led to this.
The United Nations has voted to install monitors on the escape routes from Aleppo to Lebanon and other safe places for refugees. The Russians, whose veto power has stymied some other attempts to do something about this, went along this time.
Some Americans are donating to relief efforts, which is all well and good assuming humanitarian groups – the angels of the world – can find a way to make those efforts effective.
If you want to feel a little less helpless about this, you can go to the sites of Doctors Without Borders, the UN Refugee Agency or Save the Children.
6. As you could glean from President Obama’s end-of-the-year news conference, it’s hard to figure out what the United States could do in an official capacity.
The president doesn’t count Syria among the successes in his eight-year administration. And that’s with good reason. We did not help the crisis. There are a lot of innocent lives we didn’t save. Despite Obama’s proclamations of his illegitimacy, Assad is still in charge of Syria.
The fact is that the will to topple Assad was not strong enough to match the will of Assad to stay in power – and the will of his allies in the region, Russia and Iran, to keep him there. After having the upper hand for a short time, those opposed to Assad fell behind and now just appear to be falling altogether.
As the president said, it’s the Russians, Iranians and Assad who have the blood on their hands. And those are the people the next president seems determined aligned with in Syria, claiming that we should be focused more on the Islamic State, which is one of the forces fighting Assad.
Except that when it comes to ISIS, the Russians haven’t been a whole lot of help. They’ll certainly be around to scoop up some of the glory when the Iraqis, with our assistance, clear the ISIS cockroaches from Mosul.
It’s a mess, to say the least. And let’s face the fact that a lot of this instability is thanks to the idiotic invasion of Iraq 13 years ago – done without a clue about what impact it would have on the region as a whole, not to mention without justification.
I’m not saying Saddam Hussein would have kept the peace in the region. But it’s not as if there’s been a whole lot of stability in the area since.
7. Anyway, perhaps the best thing we can do about Syria is something we can not do – get militarily involved in this region.
There are some folks who criticize Obama for not taking a military role to help avert the crisis. But as he said Friday, we had no support in the region, we weren’t invited and we would have needed to occupy portions of Syria – a strategy that didn’t work well at all in Iraq.
Now, with a new bunch of chest-beaters about to take charge in Washington, it’s a good reminder that the most powerful military force in human history still should never be used on a whim.
That means not in Syria, and certainly not in Iran, which seems to have some attraction to the lowlifes Trump is bringing into government.