An off-duty Turkish policeman shot and killed Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov in Ankara today. The shooter shouted, among other things, “Remember Aleppo. Remember Syria.” The Russian Foreign Ministry called it an act of terror. Of course it was that. Presumably, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey is an innocent civilian.
Notably, killing thousands of innocent civilians in Aleppo with barrel bombs, chlorine gas and white phosphorus incendiary munitions is not terrorism. It’s a war crime. A war crime committed with the help of Russian President Vladimir Putin freely given to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s. Russia supplies the jets and undoubtedly much of the munitions used against Aleppo. Russian jets flown by Russian pilots also strike Syrian targets. Putin says they’re targeting ISIS combatants. Only Donald Trump believes that. It takes a liar to believe a liar, one must assume. Oh, sorry, this is about Putin and Russia today, not Trump.
It’s a pity that the Ambassador should pay for Putin and Assad’s criminal behavior, but karma is what it is. He did choose to work for Putin. One day Putin’s karma will come due for Putin himself.
ISIS/ISIL, Bashar al Assad, Russia, rebels of every stripe, the U.S. and the UN. Just some of the players in Syria. The problem has been finding rebels to support that might take down Assad but that weren’t ISIS or Al Qaeda. And to avoid what happened in Iraq–getting rid of Assad without leaving the country in worse shape after all. ISIS may be on the run, but now with Russia aiding Assad more and more, atrocities in Aleppo (and no doubt elsewhere) get worse. See this article from Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on CNN.
When war crimes are happening daily, can the world afford to wait? As a Buddhist and a person who values diplomacy over war, I am loathe to suggest more U.S. military involvement. But can we expect the UN to help? Not in time. Can we just let Russia roll? One has to believe that Sergei Lavrov has been playing John Kerry for a fool on the cease-fire. I camped on the Mall in Washington, DC with Kerry when he was a leader of the Vietnam Vets Against the War. Many years after that I included my antiwar sentiments into a memoir, Waiting for Westmoreland, that also explained how I came to accept the responsibility to change myself in order to make the world a better and more peaceful place. But Buddhism doesn’t indulge the “turn the other cheek” principle of Christianity. Self-defense and defense of others is always a legitimate thing in Buddhism.
Perhaps President Obama is waiting until after November 8th, when his lame duck status is not only certain but won’t inconvenience Hillary Clinton. Were she in office right now, she would likely institute a no-fly zone over Aleppo and might be willing to challenge Russian and Syrian aircraft who violate it. We can assume Trump would do no such thing and would let Russia aid Syria until all opposition to that brutal dictator and war criminal Assad was crushed and he regained complete control of Syria.
The children and the citizens of Aleppo can’t wait. If the U.S. needs to shoot down some Russian planes (or believably threaten to do so) then so be it. We need to tell Putin we are ready to hack every computer system in Russia until it’s power grid, its infrastructure and its communication system fails or is completely crippled. Will he believe it? Can Obama bluff him? He’s been calling our bluff for some time. Now we need to call his and do it–NOW. His government hackers have been doing their best to get Trump elected. That interference has to stop. Is that a declaration of war? Probably close to it, but I prefer to call it defense of others. A believable threat has to move him. Putin will only go as far as he thinks he can get away with. He’s not sitting at a console ready to launch nukes. Do you think so? I don’t.
Congress is not in session. Calling them back will likely result in no approval. The UN Security Council won’t approve such action because Russia will veto it. So it’s more than a big political gamble. It could result in big problems for Clinton before the election. Or then again, maybe not. THEN we can sort out who needs to be supported in Syria. Obama can then exit and hand over the mess to Hillary Clinton, who is capable of handling it even if he isn’t willing or able to do it. Enough is enough.