Tag Archives: Syria

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Secretary Of State John Kerry

mitchell-kerry_140226

“…I’m proud of all the efforts we made to try to lead people to a peaceful resolution.”

John Kerry, in an interview on MSNBC, when asked if he had any regrets about the Administration’s handling of Syria;

The Sec. of State’s full answer:

Well again, Andrea, I’m going to have a lot of opportunities to be able to look back and digest what choices might have been made. I’m not going to do it now… Except to say to you, very clearly, that I’m proud of all the efforts we made to try to lead people to a peaceful resolution. And in fact, the only solution to Syria will be a peaceful agreement along the lines of what we laid out… and the several communiques that we issued, and the United Nations resolution that we passed. 2254. Those will be the basis for whatever happens, if they get there.

No, I’m not going to call Kerry’s statement an unethical quote, even as close as it came to making my head explode. Fortunately my expectations of John Kerry are basement-level low, from long experience. However, the latest fatuous sentiment from this veteran doofus is provocative and instructive.

In many pursuits, as we discuss here often, whether someone has done the right thing, made the ethical choice, should be evaluated on the basis of whether the conduct was competently considered and arrived at according to facts and ethical considerations before the conduct commenced. Judging its ethical nature  afterwards, when factors the decision-maker could not have foreseen or controlled have affected the result, is a fallacy: “It all worked out for the best” and thus the decision must have been ethical. This is consequentialism, and “the ends justifies the means” in its most seductive form.

A very recent example was the Republican leadership’s decision not to consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. No, the tactic wasn’t unconstitutional or illegal. It was unethical, however: obstructive, partisan politics defying tradition and fairness. It was also, as I pointed out at the time, stupid. When Obama, knowing of the GOP’s intent, appointed not a flame-breathing left-wing zealot but a moderate-liberal judge of impressive credentials, the GOP majority in the Senate should have rushed to confirm him, knowing well that a nomination by Obama’s presumed successor, Hillary Clinton, would unbalance the Court to a far greater degree.

The GOP lucked out, as we now know. Now President Trump will fill that vacancy on the Court, with major impact on important legal disputes for decades to come. That’s all moral luck, however. The ethics verdict on the conduct still stands. It worked, but it was wrong.

Success is not irrelevant to ethics, of course. Many jobs are ethically complex because getting a desired result is part of the mission. The result and the manner of achieving it are important. If your job is to win the war, you can’t say you did an excellent job if the war was lost. Competence is still an ethical value. A successful CEO’s company does not go belly-up by definition. Government is often analogized to sailing a ship to a destination, or flying a plane, with good reason. Part of the responsibility a government leader has is to make choices that work to the benefit of  those governed, and others as well. A captain whose ship sinks cannot say afterwards, “I did one hell of a job.” Continue reading

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Ethics Quote Of The Day: Washington Post Columnist Richard Cohen

'Oh, all right, here's what I really think, since I'm already ticked off...'

‘Oh, all right, here’s what I really think, since we’re way past the 2012 election and I’m already ticked off...’

 “The Russians managed to do what they wanted to do in Syria. Why not the United States? The answer has always been clear to me. Obama did not care enough. Not from him ever came a thundering demand that Russia and Iran get out and stay out. Behind the arguably persuasive reasons to do little in Syria was an emotional coldness. This was not Obama’s fight. Kellyanne Conway keeps pointing out that Hillary Clinton had no message. True. Neither for that matter did Obama. He waved a droopy flag. He did not want to make America great again. It was great enough for him already. The banner he flew was one of American diminishment. One could agree, one could not be proud . . . Since the end of world War II, American leadership has been essential to maintain world peace. Whether we liked it or not, we were the world’s policeman. There was no other cop on the beat. Now that leadership is gone. So, increasingly, will be peace.”

Richard Cohen, reliably liberal Washington Post op-ed columnist of long-standing, in his latest titled, “Thanks to no-drama Obama, American leadership is gone.

Good for Cohen. Like George Will on the conservative side, Cohen will occasionally break through his biases to pronounce hard truth. Except to pacifists and isolationists, Obama’s foreign policy has made the world a far more dangerous place, and created a power vacuum that is being filled by Russia, Iran, China and terrorist organizations. Weak, feckless and inept, the President’s foreign misadventures and evasions have been substantially shielded from accountability by public apathy, media alibis, and Hillary Clinton’s bind, which prevented her from articulating her own criticisms of our current foreign weakness  for fear that it would lose her the support of the blind Obama cheering section. Continue reading

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: Michelle Obama; Runner-Up: Her Husband

michelle-and-oprah

“We feel the difference now. See, now, we are feeling what not having hope feels like. Hope is necessary. It’s a necessary concept and Barack didn’t just talk about hope because he thought it was just a nice slogan to get votes. He and I and so many believe that — what else do you have if you don’t have hope,What do you give your kids if you can’t give them hope?”

First Lady Michelle Obama, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey broadcast last week.

I was going to ignore this unforgivable  statement, as there have been so many notable melt-downs from progressives and Democrats that if I commented on all of them it would be all freak-out, all the time on Ethics Alarms. However, the video really bothered me, and the timing of the remarks were so inappropriate—Let’s ask Syrians, who your husband decided to abandon in their desperation when he allowed his promise of a “red line” to  evaporate  as Assad turned his chemical weapons on them, how much hope they have, Mrs. Obama!—that I tried to think of any previous First Lady who so blatantly abused her role as a non-partisan symbol of stability and optimism for all Americans. There hasn’t been one. No First Lady, even the outspoken Barbara Bush or the activist Eleanor Roosevelt, has come close to declaring that hope was dead in America. It is especially irresponsible for a First Lady to talk like this as her husband leaves office. His predecessor was gracious, and the First Family owes its successor the same courtesy and respect. Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson

The Marx Brothers: Groucho, Zeppo, Harpo, Chico, and Aleppo

The Marx Brothers: Groucho, Zeppo, Harpo, Chico, and Aleppo

The Presidential nominee of the party whose convention featured a fat naked guy running around on stage found himself being the focus of the news this week, and not in a good way. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”—you know, that astute, objective news commentary show with a co-host who says Hillary Clinton is, like “awesome!”— there was this  exchange between Libertarian Party candidate, Gov. Gary Johnson and one of the show’s panelists, Mike Barnicle:

Barnicle: “What would you do if you were elected about Aleppo?”

Johnson: “About…?”

Barnicle: “Aleppo”

Johnson: “And what is Aleppo?”

Barnicle: “You’re kidding.”

Johnson: “No.”

Barnicle explained that Aleppo is a once thriving city in Syria that is ground zero for the country’s civil war. Johnson replied, “Got it,” and provided the wisdom that “With regard to Syria I do think it’s a mess.”

He elaborated, but as CNN’s Frida Ghitis wrote, ” Who cares what Johnson thinks about Syria now? He knows nothing about it. His opinion is meaningless.”

Well, not exactly meaningless. What his failure to have an informed opinion on a major foreign policy crisis like Syria means is that Gary Johnson is lazy, lacks seriousness, and is failing his duty to he party and the nation, which is to provide a realistic, responsible, genuine alternative to the candidates of the two major parties, both of whom are spectacularly unfit to serve, unfit for office, and embarrassments to the democratic process who call into serious question the long term viability of both our form of government and the nation itself.

Did I sugar-coat that too much? Continue reading

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Just One Simple Question, Really: How Many Dishonest, Deluded, Shameless or Incompetent State Department Employees Had To Pass On This To Allow It To be Published?

Syrian War

A just-issued report on State Department’s 2015 accomplishments, written by spokesman George Orw…I mean, John Kirby, includes a section headlined with this:

“Bringing Peace, Security to Syria”

It really does. No, really.

It also includes a section titled, “Iran Peaceful Nuclear Program Ensured,” which is untrue and ridiculous ( nothing of the sort is “ensured”), but to be fair, the State Department apparently believes this. Even John Kerry can’t believe that the State Department has brought peace and security to Syria.

Could he?????

______________________

Pointer: Politico

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Ethics Hero: CNN’s Jake Tapper

tapper-rhodesIt is tragic that it takes bloody murder to raise the press out of its journalism ethics torpor, and force it to ask tough questions of the administration it helped put in power and  has pampered,  pimpeda nd covered for ever since.  Still, progress is progress. CNN’s Jake Tapper, probably the closest thing to an objective journalist in captivity, has obviously had enough of the seven-year pattern of pretending that all Obama policies are working just marvelously thank-you, even as the stench of fakery, dishonesty and incompetence fills the air.

Over the weekend, Tapper was having none of the spin offered by Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), both sent out by the White House for damage control, after the President’s statement that “ISIS has been contained” was rendered ludicrous by the deaths in Paris.“If this is what ISIS looks like contained, I shudder to think what ISIS looks like uncontained,” Tapper told Rhodes.

Bazinga!

President Obama ended the war on terror, put tepid measures in place in Syria, dismissed ISIS as “the junior varsity, ” and in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack, coordinated a campaign of media disinformation to blame it on a YouTube video rather than admit that Al Qaeda was not “decimated” as he had puffed, all while taking unseemly personal credit for the killing of bin Laden and feeding the public what has been called a “narrative of success.”

Maybe the news media will finally insist that he accept accountability for his inept and feckless terrorism strategies. I doubt it, but at least Tapper gave us a reminder of what unbiased journalism looks like, lest we forget.

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Obama’s Avoidance Of Accountability Reaches Previously Unimagined Heights

Obama shrug

Having encountered this immediately prior to last night’s debate among the Democratic contenders for the 2016 Presidential race, the praise heaped on Barack Obama’s abysmal record, repeated defiance of law and ignorance of basic leadership mandates—never honestly identified as such, of course—approached head-exploding levels of dissonance. It briefly subsided when Jim Webb, answering the question of what the candidates would do differently, so diplomatically delivered damning criticism that I doubt many in the room realized it. He said in part…

[If] there would be a major difference between my administration and the Obama administration, it would be in the use of executive authority…I have a very strong feeling about how our federal system works and how we need to lead and energize the congressional process instead of allowing these divisions to continue to paralyze what we’re doing. So I would lead — working with both parties in the Congress and working through them in the traditional way that our Constitution sets up…

Translation: Under Obama, the Constitution has been violated repeatedly because this President won’t deign to work closely with Congress, and has chosen instead to govern by executive fiat, which is not how the Constitution requires laws to be made.

He also said he would lead, which he undoubtedly would do. Obama, just two days earlier in his “60 Minutes” interview, demonstrated yet again why he can’t lead. He is incapable of accepting accountability for what he does, and what those under his authority do. Sometimes the utter awfulness of his values, usually because of his narcissism, makes me want to challenge his supporters to defend what is manifestly indefensible.

This is such a time.

Here is the section of the Steve Kroft interview: Continue reading

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