Monday, October 26, 2015

Syria, Broken Pottery and Duraflame

Did you read Jimmy Carter's column in The New York Times a few days ago, in which he proposed a multi-state solution to the Syria crisis? I thought it was very interesting. Essentially, Carter said that the persistent U.S. demand for Assad to step down is unrealistic, and we should instead be working with Russia, Iran and neighboring countries to stabilize Syria under Assad. At least then we would eliminate the power vacuum that allows ISIS to thrive.

I think it makes a lot of sense. Just the other day I was telling some friends that I didn't understand the American insistence that Assad be removed from office. He's a dictator, but isn't he much, much better than chaos, anarchy, religious extremists and civil war?

Assad's departure could still be our long-term diplomatic goal, but for now, we ought to work with him, or at least tolerate him. He's better than any visible alternative, from what I can tell. Jimmy Carter is spot on.

As you can see from the top photo, taken on a nearby street where I walk Olga most mornings, fall is in full swing. Yesterday we went on our West Heath walk, and once again I found a tiny piece of broken china on the footpath. I am a bit mystified about why I keep finding these on Hampstead Heath. Were pebbles from the Thames used to firm up the footpaths? (As we have seen, the Thames is full of broken crockery.) Or are these simply random pieces of rubbish that were discarded there decades ago? I wonder.

Anyway, Olga and I had a good walk.

Last night, Dave and I went to a choral concert where one of his colleagues performed. First we had dinner at a pub near Sloan Square that shall remain nameless, as they were out of most items on the menu and the food took forever to arrive. (I never did get my chips, and where was the quail egg that was supposed to top my salmon?) We scampered from there to a nearby church, the site of the performance -- Vaughan-Williams' Mass in G Minor and Duruflé's Requiem. They were both beautiful pieces, beautifully performed. I'd never heard of Duruflé, and in fact when Dave told me the name I thought he said "Duraflame," like those molded sawdust fireplace logs. I told Dave we should call him Duraflame from now on.


Yorkshire Pudding said...

It pleases me enormously to see that Dave has colleagues and not co-workers! Good on Dave!

As for Assad... you might say something similar about those other dictatorial monsters - Saddam Hussein and Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi. What has happened since their elimination should act as a warning signal. Arab countries have a different mindset from the west.

Ms. Moon said...

I know nothing about what's going on in the Middle East. I feel guilty for being so willfully ignorant but then again...
I love those pottery shards. I have many I've collected here in my yard but none of them are as old as the ones you find, I am certain.
I'm so glad you two got to go out, even if the food was a disappointment. Sounds like the music was not.

ellen abbott said...

the Middle East is such a mess and it can be laid squarely at the feet of George Bush. it's always been a little volatile since the British left after mucking around there and then just drawing national lines based on nothing but nothing like the full scale destabilization America is responsible for.

I too love those pottery shards. I hope you display them somewhere.

Sharon said...

Wow, that street scene is gorgeous! What a colorful fall wonderland.
I had not seen Carter's article but thanks for summarizing it. His solution makes sense to me. I really think that the centuries old "tribal" hatred is so foreign to us that we really can't understand how to fix the Middle East. It just seems so strange to us to hate your neighbor because his clan did something bad to your ancestors centuries ago.
That pub you visited looks like it should be a great place to eat and it certainly is in an upscale neighborhood. Too bad they didn't have their act together.

Linda Sue said...

Dur Ruffle, Duraflame, funny name all the same. Jimmy Carter has always been even keeled, he will historically be revered, seems like big guns and noise get all of the attention. Our weather is just like yours except maybe darker, not liking it much and can not see ! I could see for miles and miles in Palm Springs even without my glasses! Light makes a huge diff!

jenny_o said...

I believe you are right, that Assad is the lesser of two evils. Sometimes that is as good as it gets.

The pottery is interesting! Have you any inclination to make a mosiac for the wall or the garden with the pieces? (I would probably have the inclination but never do it :))

Lynne said...

The pottery shards are akin to sea glass. They've been through a lot, you just don't know what their origins were.

alphabet soup said...

I've saved the Jimmy Carter article to read later - working with Russia and Iran to stabilise Syria? No easy task.

Pottery shards. I'd like the small green and white piece please.

Duraflame. I often do a similiar thing with words, they go into my personal lexicon forever and then when I trot them out in public I get very, very strange looks.

Ms Soup