Obama and Syria: The Ants and the Grasshopper

Aesop was ahead of his time some 2,700 years ago when he wrote a fable that has implications for today. Photo: Obama's foreign policy (blog.goo.ne.jp)

CHARLOTTESeptember 3, 2013  —  To hear the media discuss Barack Obama’s Syrian policy they seem to be inferring the president is working the phones to beg congress to make his case for military action.

To hear Mr. Obama speak about the situation, he does not sound like someone who is passionate about having congress give him permission to act.

If anything, the president presents the image that he would rather have the vote goes against him.

Barack Obama is playing games with human lives, words and politics. Syria is the result of a vicious civil war where thousands upon thousands of people died long before Assad’s gas attack killed roughly 1,500 more. The gassing of innocent men, women and children was unquestionably horrific, but the ratio of lost lives from the previous two years of fighting compared with the number of deaths from WMD is vastly skewed.

Shades of Nero

Why then, did we not respond earlier? And why now? Because of a red line?

The president met with a few congressional leaders, those who are in Washington, for about 15 minutes. The real debate will come later, of course, but a five minute statement followed by ten minutes of discussion hardly creates a sense of urgency.

In Obama’s mind the urgency is critical that he made a statement on Saturday and urgently went to the golf course.

Now the media tells us the president is feverishly working the phones as he heads off to Europe.

During his plea to congressional leaders Obama used two words that have no relevance in the Middle East, “peace” and “stability.” They sound good. They are something everyone in the West desires, but they are unrealistic and have been for more than 14 centuries.

In the diplomatic mish-mash of Barack Obama’s foreign policy, it is difficult to know whether he came into office as the Messiah or Allah. In his own mind, the president thought he was one or the other, and he believed he had the answers to solving centuries of conflict in the Middle East. He was wrong. Really wrong.

Now the president finds himself in a box while the media is trying to convince us he has a strategy that will make a difference in Syria.

Barack Obama’s only strategy for Syria is insulating himself as much as possible from his lack of leadership, indecisiveness and inability to deal with international problems.

Roughly 600 years before Christ a fabulist named Aesop wrote a story called The Grasshopper and the Ant(s). Here is the story with a few modifications.

The ants were hard workers who were always laboring to save up food and provisions for whatever the future might hold. They were tireless in their efforts to be repared for any eventuality.

Grasshopper plays, ants work

Meanwhile, the grasshopper was happy-go-lucky and carefree. The ants envied his ability to be so cool and often wondered why they had to work so hard and the grasshopper didn’t. The grasshopper could hang out with the crickets who were always singing and chirping and entertaining the entire meadow. But the ants kept on working. It was part of their culture. They knew that play was a luxury until their work was finished.

One day the grasshopper got word that some dangerous spiders might invade from the far end of the meadow. He didn’t know what to do, but he kept hopping because the spiders were a long way off and had no impact on his life.

Soon the spiders started getting closer and, in a sneak attack, they destroyed one of the ant hills the grasshopper was supposed to be protecting. No problem thought the grasshopper, I’ll send in the army ants to take care of the spiders.

The crickets were no help. They were entertainers. They were busy rubbing their legs together and chirping. So the hard working ants were called into action.

Meanwhile, the grasshopper took off for the next meadow, hoping to wait out the crisis

While he was gone, the grasshopper did not realize that the ants had used up most of their provisions in the battle and the army ants were now greatly diminished. 

When the grasshopper returned to his lush meadow, he thought that “peace” and “stability” had been restored. There were rumblings about more spiders coming from other fields to overtake the grasshopper’s realm, but he paid no attention because his ants had returned everything to normal.

Slowly, ever so slowly, however, the spiders moved ever closer to the grasshopper’s territory. It was time to make another decision, but provisions were low and the army ants were depleted.

Real choices had to be made, but the grasshopper had did not no where to turn.  What would he do? Chirping and hopping were no longer an option.

To be continued.

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com).  

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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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