Thank you for being “rational,” “realistic,” “coldhearted” and “canny” Mr. President

Some of the children killed in the chemical weapons attack launched by the soldiers of Bashar al-Assad in August 21, 2013.
Some of the children killed in the chemical weapons attack launched by the soldiers of Bashar al-Assad in August 21, 2013.

Stephen Walt wonders: “Is Barack Obama More of a Realist Than I Am?” While Stephen Kinzer praises his “canny anti-interventionism,” and Syrian prodemocracy activist, Qusai Zakaria, assails him for his failure to punish Assad back in 2013 for launching the notorious chemical weapons attack against the civilian populations in the Damascene suburbs of Moadamieh and Ghoutah.


  • Let’s never forget here that it was Obama’s realism that gave birth to ISIS, and encouraged the radicalizations of Muslims everywhere.
  • Underestimating the danger that ISIS pose to global security is a sign of hubris not realism.
  • The new Caliphate can indeed be brought down if the right amount of resources is allocated. Still, the radical ethos that fueled it and was fed by it will continue spread and metastasize for many years to come. The price of that peculiar admixture of messianism and realism that the last two administrations have concocted and poured down our collective wells to be consumed by one and all will be paid by many generations to come, and the Americans will not be immune from the pain.
  • Some, it seems, does not think that ISIS constitute a serious threat, that a terrorist organization with a two-billion dollar reserve is not threat! They think a few strikes in Iraq and Syria should do the trick and lead to its elimination. How wrong they are! ISIS is now an idea that dwells in the heart of so many disaffected Muslim men, and American strikes will only make it burn hotter and brighter. The Caliphate is destined to become a new Muslim sect dedicated to a never-ending warfare against the rest of the unbelieving world for the rest of this century and beyond.
  • With ISIS’ rise in Syria and Iraq, the conflict in Syria now touches upon American national interests it seems. At least this is what one could gleam from the Administration’s own actions in Iraq and the willingness of so many American officials these days to advocate action against ISIS growing bases in Syria. Doesn’t this development in itself denote the failure of the previous policy of nonintervention and indifference regarding the conflict in Syria? Doesn’t it indicate how big a fuckup it was to refuse to enforce a no-fly zone back in 2011, a development that could have preempted this entire tragic meltdown, or to punish Assad in August of 2013 for his willingness to use chemical weapons against his opponents leading to the death of hundreds of children?  No, these questions are not rhetorical, but it’s better to let them go unanswered than to read through the tons of lies and misinformation that the protagonists of the realist course usually proffer in this regard.
  • Finally, let me thank you, Mr. President, let me thank you for being so “rational” and “coldhearted,” and for being so “realistic” and “canny.” Indeed, the world is a better place when few are moved by others’ suffering, when killers are left to kill with impunity, and cancers left to fester. Let the world burn, and let us wallow in the illusion of our alleged immunity, and praise ourselves, effusively, for the obvious wisdom of such course. How could all those brilliant philosophers of yore not see it? How could they preach empathy when so much could have been accomplished by being “rational,” “coldhearted,” “unmoved,” “realistic,” and indifferent?