Striking Out at Syria: This Week’s “Shiny Object”

If you’re trying to take a picture of toddlers or pets, you are constantly trying to keep their attention on you and the camera. One tried-and-true technique is to jingle your car keys near the camera lens so that the subject will be looking at the shiny object and not directing their eyes in a direction you don’t want them to notice.

This works in a variety of fields. Quarterbacks fake a throw to the left to get the receiver on the right open. Stage magicians bring out the statuesque and sequined assistant to keep you from looking at their sleight-of-hand. Politicians make a big fuss over one issue to keep the public from looking at the one they’re really worried about.

As 9/11 approaches, being not only the 12th anniversary of the terror of 2001, it also reminds the public of the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, one year ago.

In almost 12 months, a lot has happened. There was a Presidential election, a Super Bowl, an alphabet soup of scandals (IRS, NSA, DoJ), another revolution in Egypt, and a “credible threat” that caused the U.S to temporarily shutter every diplomatic facility across North Africa and the Middle East.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (Actually, CIA calls its training facility “The Farm.”), survivors of the Benghazi attack have been kept away from Congress, the press, and the light of day. The numerous CIA staff that were there have been made to sign additional non-disclosure agreements. This seems to be gilding the lily. When I was recruited by the same outfit, I signed such forms that essentially required me to mislead my own family and keep mum for life and thereafter. I can’t imagine what further oath these folks are being made to take.

What could possibly be so vital, so secret, so catastrophic that it outweighs the assassination of an American ambassador and three members of his team?

Numerous sources have alluded to the CIA facility, AKA the diplomatic annex, as a rumored waypoint for weapons on their way from the US, through Libya, on to Turkey and ultimately to the rebels in Syria’s ongoing and multi-layered civil war. Now that information is coming out regarding American weapons that were supposed to get to the rebels but never arrived, this transit system seems increasingly plausible.

There is no argument that the war in Syria has been brutal with perhaps two million people fleeing Assad’s regime and over 100,000 being killed. However, this has been going on for over two years. What makes this moment in time so special that the United States must kinda-sorta act sooner or later? It’s not the latest use of chemical weapons because, if that was so offensive, we would have jumped off quite some time ago.

However, we have the anniversary of 9/11 right around the corner, triggering Benghazi retrospectives, as well as remembrances of 2001. There is the G-20 meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, reminding us of the cancelled meeting with Vladimir Putin and the asylum granted to NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Domestically, another debt ceiling fight looms, casting a shadow over GOP efforts to defund Obamacare. Omnibus immigration legislation is also making its way through Congress on little cat feet.

If the President Obama can get us all to look at the pretty fireworks over Damascus, maybe we won’t turn our heads toward what goes on in Washington.

On the lighter side of the news, the monstrous Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro has apparently hanged himself in prison. If only he could do that every day for ten years.

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About drronthomasjr

Dr. Ron Thomas, Jr. teaches journalism at Full Sail University in Orlando, FL. Dr. Thomas also heads Thomas Consulting Group, a consortium of professionals in leadership, crisis management, and media relations.
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