As Binding As A UN-Brokered Cease Fire

In a few hours another UN-brokered cease fire is supposed to take effect in Syria.  Don’t hold your breath.

This is just the latest in a series of would-be cease fires announced by the United Nations.  The cease fires were supposed to stop the systematic killing of women and children, but the Syrian government has either ignored them or taken advantage of them.  The UN announces that a cease fire will take effect in the future, and Syria continues to shell residential areas and murder civilians while the world waits to see if the cease fire will somehow take effect at the announced deadline.  Then the deadline passes, the killing continues, and the whole “peace process” starts all over again.

The Syrian situation shows that the UN is a hollow shell that is effective only when the United States and its allies are pushing for action.  Otherwise, its pronouncements are toothless, and its efforts to broker peace agreements are rejected by petty despots like Bashar al-Assad without fear of consequences.  UN “cease fire” declarations are pathetic, like a punch line to a bad joke.

The sad thing is that the people of Syria may hear the latest declaration of a cease fire and hold out hope that the UN and the “world community” will actually do something to stop the violence.  Their situation is bad enough without the UN raising their hopes for peace and then dashing them, again and again and again.

 

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Touch, And Its Liberal/Conservative Messages

With House drawing to a close, Kish and I are casting about for another TV show to watch on a regular basis.  We’ve watched the first few episodes of the new Fox series Touch, and it’s intriguing enough that we’ll keep watching.

The show’s back story is complicated.  Kiefer Sutherland is Martin, a former reporter whose wife was killed on September 11.  Since then, he’s bounced from job to job and struggled to connect with his 11-year-old son Jake (David Mazouz).  Jake has never spoken and screams if he is touched by another human being, but his calm inner voice narrates the episodes.  It turns out that he is one of a handful of people who see the numerical patterns in the world that connect us all.  With the help of a rogue psychologist played by Danny Glover, Martin has figured out that Jake is trying to communicate with him through numbers and guide him to help make connections between people.  In the meantime, the state Department of Social Services, through a social worker played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, questions Martin’s ability to care for Jake and may take him away.  Throw in two giggly young Japanese women who wear ridiculous outfits and pop up from time to time and a cell phone that is being randomly passed from person to person, and you’ve got the general gist of the show.  (Whew!)

The show features an interesting interplay of messages.  The notion that we all are interconnected, and that a bottle cap placed under a school window in Africa might later affect a crowd at an international dance contest, has obvious touchy-feely, let’s all have a good hug New Age heightened consciousness overtones.

At the same time, however, there seems to be a definite conservative, anti-government message lurking underneath.  Jake is well-fed and lives in a safe, secure home; why is a busybody government agency pestering Martin and presuming to judge whether he is fit to care for his son?  And although the government agency blames Martin for incidents where Jake escapes his school and climbs to the top of towers, after the agency takes Jake for evaluation it incompetently lets him escape, too.  And the positive connections that are made are solely the result of the actions of Jake, Martin, and other individuals — not any government program or bureaucracy.

If you’re in the mood for some frivolity when the 9 p.m. Thursday showtime rolls around, play a drinking game where you take a swig of your adult beverage of choice every time Martin shouts “Jake!”  (Of course, Jake doesn’t answer — you’d think Martin would have learned that by now.)  But pace yourself — with Jake’s escape artist abilities and the ineptitude of the social workers, it happens dozens of times an episode.  If you don’t watch out, by the end of the show you’ll be seeing your own special patterns in the world around us.