In Syria: Stupid power move | Common Dreams

Recently, I commented on Elmore Leonard's novel Ryan's Rules, which he later retitled as Swag. It's about the catastrophe a crook named Ryan brings onto himself by disobeying his own sensible rules, like, don't trust other crooks.

Crooks aren't the only ones who need to abide by sensible rules. One of the first rules for rulers should be: If you can't make it better, don't jump in. I think there's something like that in Clausewitz, or maybe Machiavelli, both of whom drew up sensible rules for rulers.

I agree with Jon Queally (link below): a U.S. attack on Syria is not going to make things there better, not for Syrian civilians of whatever politics hit by the cruise missiles, not for the fragmented "opposition" and certainly not for democracy, and not even for U.S. interests (economic, political or military) in the region.

But of course, if rulers acted sensibly, there would have been no World War I — to take just one example of blundering into disaster. Rulers act more often out of pride than pragmatism, pressure from their closest confidants rather than the larger interests of the states they rule, or (probably the case of George W. in Iraq) blind adherence to an ideological vision unchecked by evidence. There's probably a little bit of all three influences on the U.S. plan to attack Syria. So, disaster, here we come!

In Syria, Obama's Calculations Reveal Stupidity of US Imperialism | Common Dreams

Also, see this video of an interview of Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies:  As Strikes on Syria Loom, U.S. Ignores Diplomatic Track | Common Dreams


Elmore Leonard's Rules

In memory of the late great Elmore Leonard, this capsule note from long ago (I probably wrote it in 1985 or '86) on one of his minor works: 
 Swag Swag by Elmore Leonard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
(Originally titled Ryan's Rules.)

Used-car salesman Frank Ryan recruits cement mixer and chronic car thief Ernest Stickley, Jr. ("Stick") for a spree of armed robbery in Detroit's suburbs. But they break several of Ryan's 10 rules - "Never associate with people known to be in crime," etc. - when they team up with black hustler Sportree and his allies to rob J. L. Hudson's in Detroit; unplanned mayhem in Hudson's, double-cross by Sportree, undone by Stick and Ryan's death-defying double-double-cross and murder of Sportree. A clever white cop guided by an even cleverer fat black prosecutor catches them and the loot.

And another one:

Cuba LibreCuba Libre by Elmore Leonard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cowboy Ben Tyler in Cuba 1898 gets caught up in the independence war with cruel Spanish officers, less cruel Cuban officers in service to Spain, independence fighters both noble and treacherous, and a decadent American millionaire landowner; he wins the girl (Amelia, a tough, opportunistic American) and, after settling all scores with his Colt .44s, takes her to start a cattle ranch in Cuba libre. Ridiculous story, in which Cuba is merely a backdrop for the actions of American characters plucked from a US western, filled in with meticulous research on naval armaments and prison conditions of the time. (Written 1999/7/21)

View all my reviews

But for Leonard's rules, best of all, for all us writers is this list:
Elmore Leonard: 10 Rules for Good Wriitng