It's never too late to do the right thing

Welcome back!
So much has gone on in the past two weeks since my last blog post - from the nightmare of Syria to the ongoing soap opera of some Canadian Senators to the terrible tragedy at the U.S. Navy Yard in Washington DC, the news has been troubling to say the least.
Costa Concordia - Righting the Ship
One cause for celebration amidst these depressing scenarios is the raising of the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy nearly two years after its sinking. A true feat of engineering and determination, the successful righting of the ship is a hopeful salve to an upsetting time.
Syria and the Obama Administration
Much has been written about the on-again, off-again threats against Syrian poison gas sites by President Obama and Sec. of State John Kerry; the mixed messages; the after-the-fact (sure-to-fail) attempt to garner Congressional support. The ultimate embarrassment was the emergence of Vladimir Putin as a 'peace-maker' in a negotiated deal between Russia and the U.S. to remove those weapons of mass destruction. What are some lessons out of this messy situation?

Five Key Lessons from Syria
1. The U.S. President was conflicted in his roles. His initial instinct was to strike hard and fast as Assad had clearly crossed the 'red line' that the President drew long ago. Once the President announced that he would strike militarily, he had painted himself into a corner. U.K's Prime Minister David Cameron found himself in the same dilemma when the House of Commons voted against him. That clearly had an impact on the President.
2. The process was not well managed. In the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy brought the nation together, shared with them what they had discovered (Russian missiles in Cuba), and put in place a blockade with a clear warning to the Russians. He didn't threaten - or strike - even though he was strongly advised to by his military advisers. He used back-channel communications between Bobby and  the Russian Ambassador to find a peaceful solution. In this case, the President and the Secretary of State seemed to be on different channels - and all of it live on CNN.
3. Don't ask what you know you won't get. The public is tired and cynical - and Congress is no mood to risk political capital on this issue - the only thing to unite both parties. Even though the U.N. inspectors have now confirmed that Assad did indeed use poison gas on innocent people, the public still cannot be galvanized into action. After Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, they just don't want to go there anymore.
4. The Value of Delay. While waiting for Congress to get its act together, John Kerry blurts out a response at a news conference that changes the entire direction of the issue. This opened the door for Putin to step in and offering to intercede with Assad. With that delay came the path to a peaceful solution. [Although how to punish Assad still remains a source of deep discord between Obama and Putin.]

5. Can Obama 'Right the Ship'? Yes, so long as he learns the lessons out of this situation, Americans may thank him from keeping them out of direct military involvement. He has proven time and again his ability to recover and he only has a year left before the mid-terms to demonstrate his bona fides internationally. After all, he won the Nobel Peace Prize shortly after being elected. Who knows, maybe he could win it again?
How to End the Senate 'Scandals'
The Canadian people have clearly made their minds up about the four Senators at the centre of the 'scandal' involving expense claims and housing allowances. They have become so turned off that the majority want to end the Senate altogether. [Personally, I think that would be an over-reaction and a real shame. A reformed Senate could be a major step forward in bringing more accountability and a more vigorous democracy in Canada. But that's a subject for another day.]
In this post, we are looking at the issue of the spending scandals and what it will take to end the reality series that threatens to be renewed for another season. So far, Sen. Mac Harb has paid back the money and resigned. Notice how quickly he is out of the limelight? What should Senators Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau do?
How to End the Senate 'Scandal'?
First, Senators Duffy, Brazeau and Wallin need to do the right thing....and resign. Without a resignation, they will continue to draw heat - not only onto themselves, but more importantly, the entire Senate, let alone the Harper government. They have violated the rules, and Canadians expect that there should be consequences. Just paying back the money doesn't do it. Notice how Sen. Mac Harb has already disappeared off the radar screen since his resignation?
Secondly, the Senators need to apologize fully and unreservedly for their actions. No excuses, no blame, no attacks. Without it, the outrage only continues.
Thirdly, the Harper government needs to move forward on a refreshed agenda. They need to demonstrate that they are not captives of the issue. That will be difficult, as the Opposition is already demonstrating with yesterday's 'Twitter Question Period' that they intend to keep adding heat. Stephen Harper is out there doing what Prime Ministers can do - namely, make news. His performance at the G20 was strong, and on issues such as Child Protection and Syria (while staying out of it, he has communicated his profound disgust for what the Syrian government has done. Canadians seem happy with his response so far.)

 Remember, even if things have not been well handled, it's never too late to do the right thing.

Until next time....

1 comment:

  1. Barry,
    My cynical view is that John Kerry dropped his comment on purpose, knowing that a back channel deal was in the works between Putin and Obama. Kerry's comment gave Putin the opening he needed to make his proposal. That proposal got Obama off the hook.