Pine Nuts: What to do about Syria and Snowden |

Pine Nuts: What to do about Syria and Snowden

The Tahoe Basin has a practical motto, “Less Fuel Means Less Threat.”

Defensible Space has become a way of life in our highly combustible community, and we live by it on a day to day basis.

So the question comes to mind, why cannot the United States adopt such a practical approach to our highly inflammatory foreign policy?

Let’s look at Syria. This is a conflagration that is raging out of control, but even now, “Less Fuel Means Less Threat.”

Through my old eyes, there are no good guys in this conflict, only bad guys fighting worser guys if you will forgive my English.

At this point in a two year old conflict the worser guys have killed more people than the bad guys by a sizeable margin. So in the name of justice, we, the United States, are about to arm the bad guys with small arms so they can kill more of the worser guys.

We are fighting fire with fire in a tinderbox where Russia, Iran and Hezbollah are behind the worser guys. This can’t work out well.

Syria is akin to a prison riot. One rival gang is killing more than another so we decide to send arms to the weaker gang to make it a more even fight. This will only serve to prolong the killing.

Israel (the smartest person in the room) is keeping its eye on the ball — Iran. They know that whoever prevails in Syria is going to want Golan back, and they will have to deal with that when it happens.

Better minds than mine are orchestrating our arms intervention, so I can hope it will turn out well. But then better minds than mine also got us into Vietnam.

Our red line should have been 50,000 killed, or better yet, 25,000. The president is leading from the rear again, and this time it’s much too little much too late.

I’m afraid that’s going to be his legacy. In full disclosure, this opinion comes from a citizen who voted for Obama twice.

But let’s look at Edward Snowden. In the eyes of the world outside of America he is seen most widely as a whistle blower.

Mark Twain might like to say, “The only true patriot, the only rational patriot, is loyal to the nation all of the time, and loyal to the government when it deserves it.”

Snowden is charged with espionage for divulging national secrets and the government has a tight case. At this point in time it appears that nothing Snowden blew the whistle on is criminal activity, so technically I guess he cannot be called a whistle blower.

Late in his life Mark Twain would make this observation, “Patriotism contemplates the opposite of a common brotherhood.” I hope common brotherhood is where we are heading with all this.

So what should we do about Syria and Snowden? From this popcorn stand I say stay out of Syria’s ancient religious rivalries, try Snowden in absentia, and let the chips fall where they may.

As I close this column Snowden still sits in Russia, and if nothing else, he has brought out a sense of humor in the former KGB agent Vladimir Putin, who is enjoying sticking a finger in Obama’s eye.

When commenting on the Snowden affair Mr. Putin summed it up quite plainly, “It’s like shearing a piglet, there’s a lot of squealing and very little wool.”

And just here, Mark Twain might like to say, “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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