Thank goodness for German authorities. Having quickly stated that the crazed truck driver and his accomplice(s?) had engaged in an act of terrorism, the dork at BBC World covering the tragedy could safely quote them. Rather than actually state the obvious all by his lonesome, and say that by all accounts this was yet another act of terrorism on European soil.

Even the White House got in on the act. At least National Security Council spokesman Ned Price did, condemning “what appears to have been a terrorist attack on a Christmas Market in Berlin.” Will President Obama use similar language? If he does, it will surely be contained by qualifiers that scrupulously avoid using terms like radical islamic terrorism. Because if the culprits did not train in Syria or Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East – though they may well have – then of course how could it be radical islamic terrorism?

It’s about the psychology of those poor misunderstood lone miscreants. Who, if they only had proper counseling and plenty of safe spaces, wouldn’t do things like slaughter innocent civilians precisely because they are innocent civilians, living in Western Europe. And more importantly, as the intelligence establishment has wisely pointed out, we don’t want to dwell too much on the radical islamic aspects of these attackers, because that would only encourage more of them. Which is a strategy that has obviously worked out well in places like Nice, and Berlin, and Paris. And Orlando.

And in Ankara in a horrifying and surreal scene that almost looked like a crazed parody of the film I Shot Andy Warhol, a young Turkish riot policeman repeatedly shot the Russian Ambassador at a gallery where an exhibition of photography was taking place. He screamed the phrase Allahu akbar, and ranted about Russia’s role in Syria, especially Aleppo, as he was filmed by the many cameras already present, before being taken down by his colleagues in the Turkish police forces.

The scene seemed reminiscent somehow of Sarajevo, in a horrifying way. The Sarajevo of June, 1914 that is. Even as Aleppo is starting to resemble Srebrenica and its massacre of Bosnian men and children in July of 1995. While both Turkish and Russian spokespeople immediately did their best to emphasize the recently improving relations between their nations, the Syrian Civil War has been a proxy war between Russia and Turkey, as much as it has also involved Iran and America. Russia and Turkey intend to proceed with a multilateral meeting on Syria, regardless of the shooting. And Putin knows his history, even if his perspective is a dangerously wounded one that grieves for the lost Soviet Empire, itself founded after the military failures of Czarist Russia’s role in WW I. With ironic echoes of ISIL and Al Qaida’s laments over the loss of the Ottoman Empire. A loss precipitated by, if not entirely caused by, that very shooting in Sarajevo over 100 years ago.

What will Aleppo symbolize in 10 years? In 20 years? In 100 years? For Trump, it means an impossible choice between a well-armed adversary and a fanatical enemy sworn to the death. He would be wise to avoid Obama’s do-next-to-nothing red-lines policy. But any choice Trump makes will have costs. In blood and treasure. And even if there emerge choices which do not mean either cozying up to Putin, or soft-balling ISIL, or appeasing Iran, those are the risks Trump will face when he begins dealing with Aleppo.

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