There's an old saw about a farmer in Georgia my grandfather told me that applies to the case of Syria shooting down a Turkish jet this weekend.
The farmer and his wife were returning from church, when the mule pulling their cart stopped in the middle of the road.
The farmer got out of his cart in his Sunday best, and went to the mule and whispered in his ear, "That's once."
They got back in, and went down the road a fer piece, but then the mule stopped again.
The farmer maintained the same blank expression as he got out and said to the mule, "That's twice."
The farmer and is wife were just a quarter mile from home, when that old mule stopped again, in full view of all the farmer's animals.
With nary a change in expression, the farmer reached under his seat to pick something up that he always kept there, and in his Sunday best unhitched the mule and walked it over to the forrest, when suddenly, a shot rang out.
The farmer came back to the cart, in which is wife was screaming and hollering about the farmer having executed the mule, when with the same blank expression, the farmer said, "That's once."
That seemed to keep the peace in the farmer's world, which lets us see how much to accept of Syria's climbdown over the jet.
At first, there was much brave Syrian talk of airspace, until the Turks kept protesting that in fact, planes fly that route not infrequently, which would imply of course that the Syrians shot that plane down as a test of resolve, like the farmer's mule stopping in the road the first two times, the last being just a gross affront, in front of all the other animals that couldn't be tolerated: the farmer's the farmer or he's not the boss of the mule and everyone else.
He gave fair warning before he shot the mule.
Similarly, now that Syria is saying, "It was an accident, sorry," even though we know it was a test of resolve,now the Syrian mule named Assad has a chance to live through the Sunday walk to exile, if that's once, and he only gets one more stunt like that most would argue.