Sunday, a Navy F-18 Hornet shot down a Syrian air force jet, an act of war against a nation with which Congress has never declared or authorized a war.
Washington says the Syrian plane was bombing U.S.-backed rebels. Damascus says its plane was attacking ISIS.
Vladimir Putin's defense ministry was direct and blunt:
"Repeated combat actions by U.S. aviation under the cover of counterterrorism against lawful armed forces of a country that is a member of the U.N. are a massive violation of international law and de facto a military aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic."
An ABC report appears to back up Moscow's claims:
"Over the last four weeks, the U.S. has conducted three air strikes on pro-regime forces backed by Iran that have moved into a deconfliction zone around the town of Tanf in southwestern Syria, where there is a coalition training base for local forces fighting ISIS."
Russia has now declared an end to cooperation to prevent air clashes over Syria and asserted an intent to track and target aerial intruders in its area of operations west of the Euphrates.
Such targets would be U.S. planes and surveillance drones.
If Moscow is not bluffing, we could be headed for U.S.-Russian collision in Syria.
Sunday's shoot-down of a hostile aircraft was the first by U.S. planes in this conflict. It follows President Trump's launch of scores of cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield in April. The U.S. said the airfield was the base of Syrian planes that used chemical weapons on civilians.
We are getting ever deeper into this six-year sectarian and civil war. And what we may be witnessing now are the opening shots of its next phase -- the battle for control of the territory and population liberated by the fall of Raqqa and the death of the ISIS "caliphate."
The army of President Bashar Assad seeks to recapture as much lost territory as possible and they have the backing of Russia, Iranian troops, Shiite militia from Iraq and Afghanistan, and Hezbollah.
Assad's and his allied forces opposing ISIS are now colliding with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces opposing ISIS, which consist of Arab rebels and the Syrian Kurds of the PYD.
But if America has decided to use its air power to shoot down Syrian planes attacking rebels we support, this could lead to a confrontation with Russia and a broader, more dangerous, and deadly war for the United States.
How would we win such a war, without massive intervention?
Is this where we are headed? Is this where we want to go?
For, again, Congress has never authorized such a war, and there seems to be no vital U.S. interest involved in who controls Raqqa and neighboring lands, as long as ISIS is expelled. During the campaign, Trump even spoke of U.S.-Russian cooperation to kill ISIS.
While in Saudi Arabia, however, he seemed to sign on to what is being hyped as an "Arab NATO," where the U.S. accepts Riyadh as the principal ally and leader of the Gulf Arabs in the regional struggle for hegemony with Shiite Iran.
Following that Trump trip, the Saudis -- backed by Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain -- sealed their border with Qatar, which maintains ties to Iran. And though Qatar is also host to the largest U.S. air base in the region, al-Udeid, Trump gave the impression its isolation was his idea.
President Trump and his country seem to be at a decision point.
If, after the fall of ISIS in Raqqa, we are going to use U.S. power and leverage to solidify the position of Syrian rebels and Kurds, at the expense of Damascus, we could find ourselves in a collision with Syria, Russia, Hezbollah, Iran and even Turkey.
For Turkish President Erdogan looks on our Kurdish allies in Syria as Kurdish allies of the terrorist PKK inside his own country.
During the campaign, candidate Trump won support by pledging to work with Russia to defeat our common enemy. But if, after ISIS is gone from Syria, we decide it is in our interests to confront Assad, we are going to find ourselves in a regional confrontation.
In Iraq, the U.S. and Iran have a common foe, ISIS, and a common ally, the government in Baghdad. In Syria, we have a common foe, ISIS. But our allies are opposed by Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.
The question before us: After Raqqa and Mosul fall and the caliphate disappears, who inherits the ISIS estate?
The U.S. needs now to delineate the lines of advance for Syria's Kurds, and to talk to the Russians, Syrians and Iranians.
We cannot allow our friends in the Middle East and Persian Gulf to play our hand for us, for it is all too often in their interests to have us come fight their wars, which are not necessarily our wars.
WASHINGTON -- In 1859, when Manhattan still had many farms, near the Battery on the island's southern tip The Great American Tea Company was launched. It grew, and outgrew its name, becoming in 1870 The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, which in 1912 begat the first A&P Economy Store, a semi-modern grocery store.
By 1920, there were 4,500 such stores; by 1930, 15,000. In 1936, in Braddock, Pennsylvania, A&P opened a "supermarket." By the 1950s, A&P was, briefly, what Walmart now is, the nation's largest retailer, with a 75 percent share of America's grocery business. A&P was, however, about to learn that Karl Marx was right.
In "The Communist Manifesto," Marx testified to capitalism's transformative power: "All that is solid melts into air." Sixty-eight years after he wrote that, in 1916, in Memphis, just as Henry Ford's Model T was making personal mobility a universal aspiration, and that aspiration was making suburbs practical and alluring, the first Piggly Wiggly opened.
This was the beginning of self-service grocery chains. Hitherto, shoppers handed their grocery lists to clerks, who plucked the goods from shelves. Soon shoppers were pushing carts along aisles lined with goods enticingly packaged to prompt impulse purchases.
A&P flourished when people went downtown to shop. As new suburbs spread, A&P's stores were old and distant. A&P filed for bankruptcy in 2015. By Nov. 25, 2016, its last stores had closed.
Last week, Kroger grocery chain's lowered earnings forecast caused a 19 percent drop in share prices, which had already declined 12 percent in 2017. This was before Amazon announced that it is buying the Whole Foods grocery chain -- more than 460 stores in 42 states, Canada and Britain -- for $13.7 billion, which is approximately how much Amazon's market capitalization increased after the Whole Foods announcement.
Whole Foods, like Kroger, had been experiencing difficulties from competitors and expanding consumer options. The Wall Street Journal reports: "Consumers are buying more of their groceries outside of traditional supermarkets. Online merchants, discounters and meal-kit delivery services are all grabbing market share."
Daniel Patrick Moynihan's Iron Law of Emulation -- competitive branches of government adopt their rivals' techniques -- applies to the private sector, too. Neil Irwin of The New York Times writes of Amazon: "The online retailer is on a collision course with Walmart to try to be the predominant seller of pretty much everything you buy. Each one is trying to become more like the other -- Walmart by investing heavily in technology, Amazon by opening physical bookstores and now buying physical supermarkets." Something similar, says Irwin, is happening in "nearly every major industry," benefiting "the biggest and best-run organizations, to the detriment of upstarts and second-fiddle players."
In the accelerated churning of today's capitalism, changing tastes and expanding choices destroy some jobs and create others, with net gains in price and quality. But disruption is never restful, and America now faces a decision unique in its history: Is it tired -- tired of the turmoil of creative destruction? If so, it had better be ready to do without creativity. And ready to stop being what it has always been: restless.
Americans just now are being plied with promises that the political class can, and is eager to, protect them from the need to make strenuous exertions to provide for themselves in an increasingly competitive world. If the nation really is ready to sag into a rocking chair, it can while away its days and ward off ennui by reading the poet Philip Larkin.
"It seems, just now,
To be happening so very fast."
Those lines are from Larkin's 1972 poem "Going, Going," his melancholy, elegiac lament about the pace of what he considered despoiling change that was, he thought, erasing all that was familiar in his England. The first line of Larkin's final stanza is: "Most things are never meant."
This is a profound truth: The interacting processes that propel the world produce outcomes that no one intends. The fatal conceit -- fatal to the fecundity of spontaneous order -- is the belief that anyone, or any group of savants, is clever and farsighted enough to forecast the outcomes of complex systems. Who really wants to live in a society where outcomes are "meant," meaning planned and unsurprising?
In his poem, Larkin explained why he wrote it: He was feeling "age, simply." He was 49.
Soon America will be 241. It is too young to flinch from the frictions -- and the more than compensating blessings -- of a fast-unfolding future.
Good for the Iowa Supreme Court.
In an order signed on Monday by Chief Justice Mark Cady, the court banned weapons in all courthouses. This reasonable order will establish a uniform policy across the state designed to protect employees within and visitors to these public buildings in which emotions sometimes run high due to the nature of business conducted there. The order applies to "courtrooms, court-controlled spaces, and public areas of courthouses and other justice centers occupied by the court system."
We understand counties with no courthouse security system in place will face questions about enforcement, but we believe the court's order is a prudent step in the proper direction. Prohibiting guns inside courthouses isn't some egregious anti-Second Amendment violation, it's common sense everyone should support.
Beginning with discussion of the issue in Woodbury County, we have advocated for courthouse security for many years.
In 2011, Woodbury County supervisors banned guns in the courthouse, then in 2014 the board put some teeth in the ban by restricting courthouse access to one door staffed by security officers and equipment.
We supported the gun ban and the additional courthouse safety measures. In voicing concerns about courthouse security, we joined County Attorney P.J. Jennings, Sheriff Dave Drew and a study committee whose members recommended security improvements, including surveillance cameras, screening equipment and personnel.
However, one provision within a package of gun-related proposals passed by the Iowa House and Senate and signed by former Gov. Terry Branstad earlier this year threatened to undo positive security steps taken for courthouses here and elsewhere in Iowa. The provision states an Iowan can sue any city, county or township that passes a firearm ban if the individual believes he or she is adversely affected by it.
Insofar as courthouses are concerned, the Iowa Supreme Court's order appears to offset the potentially chilling impact of that provision.
I recently watched an interview with Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) who was present at the shooting in Arlington, Virginia. He has every reason to be angry and hateful. Instead, he spoke of coming together, healing our country and working to eliminate partisan politics. What a class act.
Davis received the second-highest bipartisan score for Congress from the Lugar Center and appears to truly care about solving problems and moving our country forward. We need more representatives like him.
In contrast, Steve King (R-Iowa), who was not present at the shooting, immediately criticized liberals for the shooting. What an embarrassment to Iowa. When is Northwest Iowa going to realize that Steve King is part of the problem in Washington and vote him out of office? According to a 2015 InsideGov ranking, Steve King was rated the least effective member of Congress. The least effective member of Congress - number one out of 435. He's been in D.C. since 2003 and has not had one piece of legislation get past committee. All he's done is embarrass Iowans on the world stage. And in case you might think InsideGov is a liberal think tank, 24 of the top 35 least-effective-ranked members of Congress on the list were Democrats and one was an Independent.
Republicans, get it together and offer a respectable candidate for Iowa's Fourth District and get rid of Steve King. He's bad for Iowa and America. - Jim Andreasen, Sioux City