Deus ex Machina

No one would take Vladimir Putin for a god except, quite possibly, Vladimir Putin himself, but he's currently playing one on TV. Rising inexplicably over the horizon, with all the timeliness of Delios rescuing the murderous Medea from the wrath of Jason, it seems he may be about to rescue the murderous Bashar al-Assad from the wrath of the United States military.

Aristotle's quibbles aside, there are situations where a deus ex machina might come in handy. There was the time when I blew a tire out on a lonely east-bound stretch of I-90 in Montana and a lone trucker, on the west-bound side, stopped, hiked across the median, and changed the tire. A veritable god from a machine. It happens.

So here we are, stuck in another cliche' (insert rock/hard place) of having made a promise to the world and then being called on it. I could say it was kinda like me assuring folks that of course I could drive from Seattle to Wisconsin with my four-year-old daughter, and then not even able to get the lug nuts off the damn tire. And it is, except, emphatically, NOT.

Someone in Syria used poisonous gas to kill over a thousand people, and it seems that something should be done about it. But what? What could be done that doesn't land the doers in an escalating series of events that also demand retaliation? I think President Obama knows, in his heart of hearts, that this strike could lead where no one wants to go and where, in the end, almost no good can be done. A nagging question in the back of my mind is, if Bashar al-Assad's ability to deploy chemical weapons is sufficiently degraded, will that also degrade his ability to keep said weapons under his exclusive control? Assuming that they are, already. And I think the President ponders that possibility as well. When making surgical strikes, one best know the anatomy of the victim patient like the back of one's hand. In the case of Syria, we may not be entirely blind but surely we are vision-impaired.

So when Vladimir Putin comes driving up in his big-rig offering assistance, I say what do we gain by standing on pride? He may make annoying remarks about women who can't even loosen lug nuts traveling alone the need to cease using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement, but if he can do the needful thing, I'm cheering him on. Because nothing good can come of finding yourself alone by the side of the road, refusing help.