Daniel Thwaites, Contributor
Leadership, if confronted with the deployment of a weapon of mass destruction, must not hesitate to respond. This is what I take from the picture of Minister Clarke launching a defensive assault on an orange-clad dancer. Yuh cannot back down jus' suh!
In fact, if yuh even haffi stan' up pon yuh tiptoe, the challenge must be met and tackled, front way, back way, every kinda way. In the immortal words of Shabba: "Stan' up an' werk mi fren, nuh gwaan like a coward."
One issue is that Roger probably should have called in allies and reinforcements rather than try to bear that burden alone. But there was hardly time for a UN Security Council resolution, and I don't even know if a suitable ally like, perhaps, A.J. or Lloyd B. Smith was at that meeting. And who is to say Lloyd B. would have kept his trousers on when di ting tun up? Then there's the possibility that backroom diplomacy, which is always preferable, could have resolved the situation without resort to the major daggeration and aggressive intervention we see in the picture.
But please recall that the man was in a high-stress situation. This was a test of his resolve. Every move was being scrutinised to see if he still has the vim, vigour and vitality, or if him get too nice to put a wine pon a woman. Realise that if ever there's a determination that he isn't up to the challenge, it would be pure anarchy, and yuh would hear seh Roger done.
All told, it seems Roger survived the test. The Gleaner said it was a 'chicken back' dance. No way! Chicken back short, so Roger showing dem how to put pepper pon oxtail. Either way, even though he looked a little awkward, he was getting the job done. So don't knock it till you try it. Or don't try him till you knock it. Why shouldn't the minister of agriculture demonstrate proper husbandry technique?
So while Roger's picture was causing deadments on the Internet, this maniac Assad was causing another kind of deadments in Syria by breach of a relatively sturdy international norm, namely, that deployment of chemical weapons is prohibited. Like Roger, President Obama is confronting the challenge.
War far from over
Syria is a complete mess, and the civil war there won't be done anytime soon. Complex ethnic and religious rivalries have been simmering forever, and this pot of trouble is going to bubble for a long time. There is no blameless side, and no simple solutions. Some of Assad's opposition is maniacal, including a not-insignificant number of murderous jihadists.
Notably, Syria has been the traditional refuge for a substantial Christian minority, and the triumph of an Islamist opposition could see their slaughter and displacement. So much for the celebrated Arab Spring, which with the emergence of sectarian zealots has moved on to become an Arab Fall without even passing through a Summer.
It's a slow-moving tragedy, and there is little that the international community, even if so minded or empowered, can do to halt it. Ultimately, it requires a political settlement, which can emerge only when they're tired of killing each other, and, like us, resolve to just cuss each other off and share power, perhaps using popularity contests (elections) to see who's in charge every now and again.
Meanwhile, Mr Obama is right to want to put a beating on Assad. The way I see it, it's like when you're living peacefully in your apartment, but the neighbours are going through a horrible divorce. Generally, you leave them alone to work things out. Until that is, the psycho decides to set the place on fire to teach her a lesson. At that point, you have every right, and even an obligation, to step in and deliver a beatdown.
When Assad calculates that he can use chemical weapons, that's bringing his divorce over to my apartment. The only issue is whether it is prudent to use force. The moral case for doing it is clear. In Jamaican terms: Obama fi dun him!
Syria isn't Iraq
Obviously, the buffoonery that George Bush perpetrated in Iraq hangs over Obama and Syria. But the two situations aren't remotely similar. Even at the time, anyone paying attention knew that the Bush administration was manufacturing 'evidence' to justify an Iraqi invasion. Also, the attempt to tie Sadam Hussein to the 9/11 terrorist attacks was more than intelligent people could tolerate.
In Syria, chemical weaponry has been deployed, and not just once. Assad has been repeatedly gassing civilians. The direct threat from Obama means that he has to calculate differently. In fact, Assad is a good candidate for what is euphemistically called 'regime decapitation'.
It would be highly desirable for the United Nations to support Assad's punishment. But the UN architecture, reflecting geopolitics just after the Second World War, is archaic and nigh useless at managing this sort of conflict.
Naturally, Obama sought help from traditional allies. He will get none from Britain because Parliament voted down PM Cameron on the issue, opening another chapter in Britain's embarrassing decline. Not-so-Great Britain has lost its nerve, and the world hasn't seen so much British vagina since paparazzi caught Elizabeth Hurley nude. Paddy Ashdown, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, was right to say that the country was "greatly diminished".
Let's deal with some counter-arguments. The US and Syria have had a tense relationship for decades, so the argument goes: Obama is using poison gas as an excuse to harass a regime the US never liked in any case. But I see this as a plus. Strategic interest coincides and neatly dovetails with upholding civilisation. It's also urged that Iran is the real target. That's false; Iran is another target, should it choose to make itself one.
Then there's the argument that the West hasn't been consistent in punishing chemical-weapons use. While this is true, I see it as an argument for more robust interventionism, not less.
At this time, geopolitical stability, to a large extent, depends on US military supremacy. That's what prevents China from steamrolling through the rest of Asia. Instead, they're expanding their economy without enlarging their borders, and taking over Africa and the Caribbean, including Goat Islands, with (relatively) peaceful investment strategies.
The question is asked: Who died and made America global bodyguard? Fair question! The answer, as discussed above, is the British Empire. When you are the one confronted with the challenge, you don't have a choice but to tun up de ting. Obama must Roger dat!
Daniel Thwaites is a partner of Thwaites Law Firm in Jamaica, and Thwaites, Lundgren & D'Arcy in New York. Email feedback to email@example.com.