President Obama is scheduled to make a televised speech to the nation tomorrow about Syria. And Apple is scheduled to announce some new products tomorrow, too.
What does one have to do with the other?
Well, recall that the biological father of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was none other than one Abdulfattah Jandali, a Syrian professor of political science who came to America and gave Jobs up for adoption.
The people in the White House drafting the Syria speech probably aren't thinking much about Steve Jobs or the Apple product announcement or Abdulfattah Jandali. And the people in Cupertino, Calif. drafting the Apple product presentation probably aren't thinking much about Syria.
But probably we'd all be better off if each group thought a bit more about the other thing. If the Apple people understood the stakes in terms of human capital of having a peaceful, safe and secure Syria, perhaps they might be more willing to invest some American power in helping create a place where creative or highly educated Syrians are able to stay and raise families. And if the White House people thought about Apple, they might be better able to articulate the upside possibilities for Syrian civilization.
None of this is to endorse the use of American military force in Syria along the limited lines President Obama has suggested, or to oppose it. Just to call attention to the two events, and to the human link between them, however tenuous, and to imagine what might have been had Syria been a place hospitable to Jobs-like creativity and economic growth rather than hostile to it. Syria's loss was America's gain, in this case. But for America, it needn't be a zero-sum game.