Thursday, September 19, 2013

Putin doppelgänger

Assuming the dog hasn't been artfully photoshopped, a Ukrainian man allegedly found this Staffordshire terrier-German shepherd roaming the streets of Kiev. It's a dead ringer for Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Substance over style

President Obama's ham-handed trek on the road to Damascus wasn't pretty. There's plenty to criticize about his handling of Syria over the past two years. And yes, as Kevin Drum opined, the president's team "probably blundered into the possibility of a diplomatic solution on Syria." But given the mind-numbing difficulty of the Syrian problem (it's akin to 12-dimensional chess), Obama's "accidental diplomacy" is probably beside the point. After all, as Drum rightly notes, "it’s rock solid certain that Assad isn’t going to launch another gas attack anytime soon, which means that, by hook or by crook, Obama has achieved his goal for now. No, it’s not the way he planned it, but the best war plans seldom survive contact with reality, and the mark of a good commander is recognizing that and figuring out to react. It may not be pretty to watch it unfold in public in real time, but it’s nonetheless the mark of a confident and effective commander-in-chief. It’s about time we had one." It is also worth noting something Obama himself said recently about his critics: "Had we rolled out something that was very smooth and disciplined and linear, they would have graded it well, even if it was a disastrous policy. We know that, because that’s exactly how they graded the Iraq war." Good point. Still, Obama should do himself a favor with a closer study of both Machiavelli ("Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are") and Sun Tzu ("Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt").

Friday, September 6, 2013

An insignificant man

In the opening quote of his memoir, The Last Witness, former Adolf Hitler bodyguard Rochus Misch wrote: "My name is Rochus Misch. I am an insignificant man, but I have experienced significant things." Misch, who died at age 96 today, was the last survivor from Hitler's bunker in Berlin. He thought the Furher was a swell quy. Prior to his death, Misch told the AP that Hitler was "a very normal man... he was no brute, he was no monster." Right. The moral blindness in some men beggars belief. Given the horrific consequences of WWII (which Hitler started and resulted in 60 million dead worldwide) and the "Final Solution" (which Hitler ordered and resulted in the murder of six million Jews), Misch's daughter, Brigitta Jacob-Engelken, told the BBC that "she could not understand why her father, who remained loyal to Hitler to the end, was not more critical in his reflections of Nazi history." The answer is simple. Misch was an insignificant man without a discernable conscience or a soul -- and incapable of developing either. Let that be his true epitaph.