George Will: Magic words and numbers
The English Civil War was not finally ended by negotiations between Oliver Cromwell and Charles I; Cromwell seized power and Charles lost his head. America's Civil War ended when Robert E. Lee capitulated to U.S. ("Unconditional Surrender") Grant. Russia's civil war ended when Leon Trotsky's Red Army defeated the White forces. Spain's civil war ended with Francisco Franco in Madrid and remnants of the loyalist forces straggling across the Pyrenees into France. China's civil war ended when Chiang Kai-shek skedaddled to Formosa (now Taiwan), leaving the mainland to Mao. But Syria's civil war - after the massacres, torture, chemical weapons - supposedly will be resolved by a negotiated regime change: with words. Next, words will supposedly result in Iran ending the decades-old and hugely expensive nuclear weapons program that it says is nonexistent, and will proceed.
Many of the words and numbers bandied by Obama and his administration may reflect an honest belief that the world is whatever well-intentioned people like them say about it. So, Obama's critics should reconsider their assumption that he is cynical. It is his sincerity that is scary.
In a previous column, I misstated the party breakdown of Florida's 13th Congressional District and President Obama's electoral victory margins there. The district is 37 percent Republican and 35 percent Democrat. Obama won by 3.8 points in 2008 and 1.4 in 2012.
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