Int'l Norms: Obama Seeks To Violate UN Charter With Cong. Authorization

Jack Balkin wrote:

Under the U.N. Charter, it is illegal for member states to attack each other because they claim another state is violating international law unless they are acting in self-defense or unless they are authorized to do so by a Security Council resolution. There is no such resolution with respect to Syria. The whole point of the Charter is to keep (for example) Russia from attacking (for example) Israel because Russia claims that Israel is violating international law. What goes for Russia attacking Israel also goes for the United States attacking Syria.

This story is being under-reported in the press. Imagine a New York Times headline that read:

Obama seeks to violate United Nations Charter: Asks Congress's Blessing.

But that is exactly what is happening. Obama may say that he is just trying to enforce international norms, but he is doing it by violating article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter. To invoke a metaphor from another war, he is destroying the village in order to save it.

I point this out not because I think it is the most compelling reason to oppose Obama's Syria policy, but because it makes a mockery of the argument that we must support Obama's Syria policy in order to defend international norms. For example, E.J. Dionne writes today:

With luck, Obama will get by this crisis while sending a strong message of American determination to uphold international norms.

Which brings to fruition Balkin's line "destroying the village in order to save it."

These are simply not dispositive points in this debate in my opinion. I return to the 6 obvious questions regarding Obama's Syria policy:

1. What objectives does the administration seek to achieve in Syria?

2. How does it anticipate that the use of force will lead to the fulfillment of those objectives?

3. What is the administration's theory of victory? That is, what are the assumptions that link the use of military force to the achievement of victory?

4. How does the administration believe that Syria will respond to the U.S. use of force?

5. What does the administration believe could go wrong? What unexpected things could happen?

6. And finally, how does the administration anticipate that this will end?

Discussion of international norms is a piece of this discussion, but not the biggest piece. And it begs the question of why diplomatic efforts have been discarded so quickly.

I agree with those commenters who say Syria is not Iraq. I think this is true because the President is not proposing nor will he undertake a blunder of such monumental proportions. But I do think there is some value to looking back at Iraq and asking ourselves why are we not giving diplomacy a chance, if for no other reason than to make a military action more efficacious. But the Iraq history I am thinking of does not involve George W. Bush, the 43. It involves George H.W. Bush, the 41. Consider the timeline of the runup to Desert Storm in January 1991:

August 2, 1990 The Persian Gulf War begins when Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait with armor and infantry, occupying strategic posts throughout the country, including the Emir's palace.

The UN Security Council passes Resolution 660, condemning Iraq's invasion and demanding a withdrawal of Iraqi troops.

August 6, 1990 - The UN Security Council passes Resolution 661, placing economic sanctions on Iraq.

August 8, 1990 - Iraq appoints puppet regime in Kuwait which declares a merger with Iraq.

November 29, 1990 - The UN Security Council passes Resolution 678, giving Iraq a withdrawal deadline of January 15, 1991, and authorizing member states "all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660" if Iraq failed to withdraw by that deadline.

January 3, 1991 - President Bush proposes meeting between James Baker, Secretary of State, and Tariq Aziz, Iraqi foreign minister.

January 10, 1991 - Baker meets Aziz in Geneva. Talk fail.

January 12, 1991- The United States Congress passed a joint resolution to authorizing the use of military force to drive Iraq out of Kuwait.

January 17, 1991- A day after a deadline was passed set in Resolution 678, Coalition forces launch Operation Desert Storm with a massive air campaign against targets in Iraq and Kuwait.

A five month period passed between Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the commencement of Desert Storm.

By that time, the United States had formed a formidable coalition, complied with international law and then executed its military plan, meeting its objectives.

The end result was military action, but by exhausting diplomatic options, doing the hard work of forming an international coalition and abiding by international law, the efficacy and authority of that military action was greatly enhanced.

Nothing like this has happened or has been proposed by President Obama.

It's true that I doubt the efficacy of military action in the Syria situation, but the chances of its efficacy would be greatly enhanced if it is truly seen as a last resort.

The lack of thought by the likes of E.J. Dionne is emblematic of the Very Serious People discussion here. And it denotes a central fact, while the Nation and some of our representatives are discussing the situation in a serious manner, too much of the discussion is, as Hunter puts it:

It has to be at least a little disconcerting to see, vividly, that even our conversations about which people to kill in which of various ways for which reasons are for the most part unserious, self-promoting, and rote.

No one seems engaged in the business of the hard thinking and hard work that should entail the most momentous decision any country can take - the decision to go to war.

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    Thank you for this post, BTD, even if (5.00 / 7) (#1)
    by Anne on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 08:42:38 AM EST
    it raises more questions that don't seem to be being addressed - at least publicly.

    Did Susan Rice forget to tell Samantha Power about this little detail?  Is John Kerry not up-to-speed on international conventions, rules and procedures?  Is there some kind of opinion somewhere, recently written within the administration, that provides Obama with justification for going outside the UN charter?

    Honestly, I just don't know what to think.  Are we sitting on the sidelines about to see a horrific multi-vehicle, chain-reaction car crash, or are we going to witness the most brilliant example of high-speed, championship driving?

    I worry that these people are so enamored of whatever their plan is, and so convinced it will work, that they believe no one will care if they have to violate the UN charter to do it.  

    There's an element of arrogance creeping into this thing, and I think there's real danger there.

    Laws are for peons (5.00 / 4) (#2)
    by MO Blue on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 08:49:05 AM EST
    Our last few presidents adhere to the Nixon doctrine regarding laws for U.S. presidents. Of course the Nixon doctrine is reserved entirely for U.S. presidents. All others must adhere to international laws and norms unless of course we give them dispensation to otherwise.  

    No, yesterday in Sweden... (5.00 / 5) (#3)
    by bmaz on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 08:58:14 AM EST
    ...Obama basically just said he was above the UNSC, UN Charter and US precedent. See here

    bmaz - thanks for sharing that link... (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Anne on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:14:37 AM EST
    my head is reeling a bit after reading it, as well as the dialogue between Goldsmith and Lederman.

    I thought this, from the Goldsmith/Lederman link, worth noting:

    First, since the President believes he has the authority to intervene in Syria without congressional authorization, and since (on Marty's view) the President thinks he has the authority to intervene in Syria in violation of international law, the President must think that the Take Care clause of Article II (which imposes on him a duty to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed") imposes no duty to comply with non-self-executing treaties like the Charter.  That is a very large constitutional implication from the President's legal posture in Syria, and one that Marty thinks is problematic.  (As Marty says, the congressional approval for use of force sought by the President, if it comes through, will render this constitutional implication moot, for it is settled that Congress can violate international law.  Marty thinks this is an important reason to go to Congress, and he is right.  Nonetheless, the President's position that he can go forward without Congress implies that he or his lawyers believe that he has no constitutional duty to comply with non-self-executing treaties.)

    Second, Marty's interpretation of the President's remarks puts U.S. soldiers carrying out the President's commands in an awkward position.  Every U.S. soldier is taught the importance of complying with law, including international law, in every task he or she undertakes.  They are also taught that dishonor or worse follows from violating this law.  Many of the soldiers and all of the lawyers involved in the Syria planning will surely feel at least a little uneasy about a military action that the President acknowledges does not pass the test of international legality.

    When Obama announced that he was going to seek a Congressional vote, I knew this had to be about more than just appeasing the American people.

    I do not like where all of this is going.


    There are also a couple of other elements (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by Edger on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:04:03 AM EST
    that almost no one is looking hard at.

    Kerry: Arab countries offered to pay for invasion

    Secretary of State John Kerry said at Wednesday's hearing that Arab counties have offered to pay for the entirety of unseating President Bashar al-Assad if the United States took the lead militarily.

    "With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assess, the answer is profoundly yes," Kerry said. "They have. That offer is on the table."

    Asked by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) about how much those countries would contribute, Kerry said they have offered to pay for all of a full invasion.

    "In fact, some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing the way we've done it previously in other places, they'll carry that cost," Kerry said.

    Now why would they offer that?


    Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack

    Rebels and local residents in Ghouta accuse Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan of providing chemical weapons to an al-Qaida linked rebel group.
    "My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry," said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.

    Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels were killed inside of a tunnel used to store weapons provided by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion. The father described the weapons as having a "tube-like structure" while others were like a "huge gas bottle."

    Ghouta townspeople said the rebels were using mosques and private houses to sleep while storing their weapons in tunnels.

    Abdel-Moneim said his son and the others died during the chemical weapons attack. That same day, the militant group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is linked to al-Qaida, announced that it would similarly attack civilians in the Assad regime's heartland of Latakia on Syria's western coast, in purported retaliation.

    "They didn't tell us what these arms were or how to use them," complained a female fighter named `K.' "We didn't know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons."

    "When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them," she warned. She, like other Syrians, do not want to use their full names for fear of retribution.

    A well-known rebel leader in Ghouta named `J' agreed. "Jabhat al-Nusra militants do not cooperate with other rebels, except with fighting on the ground. They do not share secret information. They merely used some ordinary rebels to carry and operate this material," he said.

    Incredible. Our military contracted out to (5.00 / 4) (#8)
    by oculus on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:16:07 AM EST
    Saudi Arabia. This offer should have made  John Kerry and our Pres. pull up short. Why didn't it?  

    Good question. (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Edger on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:26:57 AM EST
    Also coincidentally...

    September 2012:

    What an entrance at the UN General Assembly in New York; Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani called for an Arab coalition of the willing-style invasion of Syria, no less. [1]
    Here we see Qatar in direct competition with both Iran (as a producer) and Syria (as a destination), and to a lesser extent, Iraq (as a transit country). It's useful to remember that Tehran and Baghdad are adamantly against regime change in Damascus.

    The gas will come from the same geographical/geological base - South Pars, the largest gas field in the world, shared by Iran and Qatar. The Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline - if it's ever built - would solidify a predominantly Shi'ite axis through an economic, steel umbilical cord.

    Qatar, on the other hand, would rather build its pipeline in a non-"Shi'ite crescent" way, with Jordan as a destination; exports would leave from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Gulf of Suez and then to the Mediterranean. That would be the ideal plan B as negotiations with Baghdad become increasingly complicated (plus the fact the route across Iraq and Turkey is much longer).

    Washington - and arguably European customers - would be more than pleased with a crucial Pipelineistan gambit bypassing the Islamic Gas Pipeline.

    And of course, if there's regime change in Syria - helped by the Qatari-proposed invasion - things get much easier in Pipelineistan terms. A more than probable Muslim Brotherhood (MB) post-Assad regime would more than welcome a Qatari pipeline. And that would make an extension to Turkey much easier.

    Ankara and Washington would win. Ankara because Turkey's strategic aim is to become the top energy crossroads from the Middle East/Central Asia to Europe (and the Islamic Gas Pipeline bypasses it). Washington because its whole energy strategy in Southwest Asia since the Clinton administration has been to bypass, isolate and hurt Iran by all means necessary.

    Qatar, coincidentally(?), happens to be the home of US CENTCOM's forward headquarters [...] at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar [tasked] to serve American strategic interests of the US CENTCOM Area of Responsibility (AOR) and Area of Interest (AOI).


    Yes Sherlock, it is all about oil politics (2.00 / 3) (#68)
    by Politalkix on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 06:36:11 PM EST
    It is all about olive oil. link

    Syria is the fifth largest olive oil producing country after Spain, Italy, Greece and Tunisia.
    Washington - and arguably European customers - would be more than pleased with a crucial olive oil Pipelineistan gambit that would bring Syrian olive oil to restaurants and food lovers in Europe and America. A Turkey-Syria-Israel-Egypt-Libya-Tunisia olive oil pipeline would bring Syrian and Turkish olive oil to leisure resorts all around the Mediterranean Sea bypassing the Orthodox axis involving Greece, Russia and Ukraine. No wonder the French were so interested in regime change in Libya, Tunisia and other Arab Spring countries first and now once again in Syria. Can they think of anything else but leisure and food?

    Ankara, Paris and Washington would win. Ankara because Turkey's strategic aim is to become the foodie crossroads from the Middle East/Central Asia to Europe, Paris because it would undercut Germany's influence in Europe (it would bring back Europe's attention to cuisine from finance), Washington because its whole energy strategy in South East Europe since the Clinton administration has been to bypass, isolate and hurt Greece and Russia by all means necessary-it started with the bombing of the Serbs.


    More evidence of olive oil politics (none / 0) (#112)
    by Politalkix on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 06:26:14 AM EST
    I have noticed an uptick in Turkish spam every time a Greek cooking recipe is posted in TL.

    The spam may likely be Turkish recipes.

    Our lazy media has incorrectly identified Turkish-Greek rivalry over olive oil in Syria as a Sunni-Shia divide.


    We already... (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by kdog on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:35:02 AM EST
    contract our military out to half the world...maybe it's about time we get paid for that service.  Though I would much prefer we stop doing it, if we're gonna do it we shouldn't we get reimbursed?

    It must be topping the list (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Edger on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 10:10:10 AM EST
    of US exports by now, now? Right up there with freedumb 'n democracy(tm)?

    I'm sure the Invisible Claw of the Market (none / 0) (#23)
    by jondee on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 11:04:52 AM EST
    has already rewarded a fair number in this country who have a stake in making sure the Assads of the world have all the bloodletting instruments that they need at their disposal..



    Now that you mention it... (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by kdog on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 11:26:05 AM EST
    the "business interests" our military serves gratis should start kickin' in too...sh&t our military might turn a profit for the taxpayer if everybody getting over the world over started paying their own damn freight!

    And they gave a report to the UN (5.00 / 1) (#76)
    by desertswine on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 07:19:55 PM EST
      Russia says a deadly March sarin attack in an Aleppo suburb was carried out by Syrian rebels, not forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, and it has delivered a 100-page report laying out its evidence to the United Nations.

    There's a lot more going on in Syria than we're reading in our newspapers, or seeing on our really crappy tv news.


    Please keep in mind that ... (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 07:55:33 PM EST
    ... ... Russia is also a longtime ally and supporter of the current Ba'athist regime in Damascus, and further maintains an active naval facility and presence at Syria's Mediterranean port of Tartus.

    Suffice to say therefore that Vladimir Putin clearly has a dog in this hunt, and can hardly claim to be a dispassionate or disinterested party regarding the conflict's outcome.



    Bear in mind... (5.00 / 4) (#105)
    by desertswine on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 11:06:48 PM EST
    that there's more than one hound dog in this hunt.

    The CIA and US special operations forces have been training Syrian rebels for months, since long before President Barack Obama announced plans to arm the opposition, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

    Training for rebel forces covers the use of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons and has been carried out at bases in Jordan and Turkey since late last year, the newspaper reported, citing unnamed US officials and rebel commanders.

    The two-week courses, for about 20 to 45 fighters at a time, began last November at a new US base in the desert in southwest Jordan, it said.

    Remember the first casualty of war is the truth.


    Talking about increasing training (none / 0) (#107)
    by MO Blue on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 11:47:22 PM EST
    WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is considering a plan to use U.S. military trainers to help increase the capabilities of the Syrian rebels, in a move that would greatly expand the current CIA training being done quietly in Jordan, U.S. officials told The Associated Press on Thursday.
    The officials said no decision had been made, but that discussions were going on at high levels of the government.
    The CIA has been training select groups of rebels in Jordan on the use of communications equipment and some weapons provided by Gulf states. The new discussions center on whether the U.S. military should take over the mission so that hundreds or thousands can be trained, rather than just dozens.
    The Pentagon already has at least 1,000 troops in Jordan, including trainers working with Jordanian forces. The U.S. left about a dozen fighter jets and a Patriot missile battery there after a recent training exercise.

    In a July letter to Sen. Carl Levin he provided more details in which he laid out military options in response to the chemical weapons attack.

    He said the U.S. could provide between several hundred and several thousand trainers, with a cost of as much as $500 million a year, depending on how large the training mission became. Noting that it would require using "safe areas" outside Syria, he said the risks included "extremists gaining access to additional capabilities, retaliatory cross-border attacks, and insider attacks or inadvertent association with war crimes due to vetting difficulties." link

    Given that sarin gas is denser ... (none / 0) (#78)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 07:37:36 PM EST
    ... than air and thus heavier, how does it then arise from your "secret tunnels" to envelope the surrounding neighborhood and kill nearly 1,500 people?

    You insult people's intelligence by posting this sort of unsubstantiated tripe, with its vague references to rebel leaders named "K" and "J," etc. No doubt, you'll be pleased to know that the World Net Daily is on your side, and making the same case as yours.

    FYI, officials in classified briefings have attributed the atrocity in Ghouta to a shadowy and infamous Syrian air force unit known as Branch 450 (aka "Unit 450" per the New York Times). According to French intelligence, Branch 450 is also affiliated with Syria's Center of Scientific Studies and Research, whose facilities were attacked and extensively damaged by Israeli air strikes last May.

    Only President Bashar al-Assad and top members of his regime, the report says, have the requisite authority to order Branch 450 to deploy and use its deadly weapons. Nor do the French give credence to the notion of a rogue element within Branch 450 itself, noting that the unit is "composed solely of Alawite military personnel ... [and is] distinguished by a high level of loyalty to the regime."

    Recent reports have further identified Branch 450 personnel attached to the 4th Armored Division, which is commanded by Gen. Maher al-Assad, who is President Assad's younger brother and also heads the elite Republican Guard. Like Unit 450, 80% of the personnel comprising 4th Armored and the Republican Guard -- and 100% of its officer corps -- are Alawite, who have tended to be the most loyal of the Assad regime's supporters during both past and present domestic political crises.

    4th Armored is deployed at the Mezzah military complex near Mount Kalmun south of Damascus, which allows it to control key access points around the capital and tempers the likelihood of a military coup being mounted against the Assad regime. In the event of an Israeli invasion, 4th Armored was expected to act as the capital's last line of defense.

    The available intelligence strongly suggests that the sarin gas was delivered via rocket-propelled 50-liter warheads. In that regard, it is interesting to note that in response to a demand from Moscow last December that he consolidate his weaponized chemical assets in sites that were firmly under his control, President Assad reportedly collected them in three depots.

    In classified briefings, intelligence officials also said that Branch 450 fired rockets armed with sarin payloads from the Mezzah military complex, which serves as one of those three repositories for Syria's chemical weapons. The other two repositories are reportedly located in the Damascus suburb of Dummar and at the Al-Safira air base west of Aleppo, in the northern part of the country.

    If you're at all interested in learning more about the situation in Syria, you would do well to read "By All Means Necessary!: Individual and Command Responsibility for Crimes against Humanity in Syria," (Human Rights Watch, 2011) and "The Assad Regime: From Counterinsugency to Civil War" (Institute for the Study of War, Washington, DC).



    Which of your links (none / 0) (#101)
    by Edger on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 10:06:57 PM EST
    is to obama's declassified incontrovertible "evidence"?

    And which is to kerry's explanation of why Assad supposedly used a weapon of last resort on villagers that were of no threat to him while winning the fight against US backed al qaeda "rebels"?


    It's not Iraq (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:57:26 AM EST
    ...and greatly so, because we had a whole lot more justification in attacking Iraq than we do in Syria.  And we had a coalition.  Shoot, we had Britain then.  Ah, those were the days!

    The assassination attempt on Bush 41 was more reason in itself to attack Iraq.  And no, I didn't support the second invasion of Iraq, but compared to this I did!

    I know.  The gassing.  The gassing.

    But as KOS would say (and it's totally thru the looking glass when I'm quoting KOS).

    The U.S. has been happy to be spectators to conflicts in Darfur, Congo, Burma, Sudan, Kashmir, Somalia and dozens of other places around the globe. Unfortunately, there's no shortage of war, religious strife, ethnic cleansing, separatist insurgencies, foreign adventurism, or nationalistic fights in our planet. And yes, we're stuck being spectators to most of those situations because the alternative is unpalatable.

    Some of the atrocities mentioned above are ongoing.  And we STFU.  Why, then, must we act on what is arguably, a much, much smaller case (somewhere between 300 and 1400 victims)?

    But we are a superpower so we can do whatever the helck we want?  When you start doing crazy things because you think you're invincible?  My friends, that's when you fall.

    Because (none / 0) (#25)
    by TeresaInPa on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 11:11:46 AM EST
    there is nothing quite as grotesque as seeing row upon row of children who have been gassed to death, knowing what a terrible death it is.

    Yeah... (5.00 / 3) (#44)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 01:44:03 PM EST
    ...they kindly kill them in Africa.  Gas is horrible, but everyone keeps acting like victims of other weaponry are dieing peacefully, they aren't.

    I would also add that the number of innocent women and children killed by gas is fewer than the number of innocent women and children killed by US drones.  And that is using their numbers, which are appearing to be inflated.

    If Assad is committing war crimes by killing innocent people, how about us, A-Okay for China to drop bombs on our military installations ?  Ridiculous and hypocritical to the 10th degree, but here we are, about to use weapons Syria could only dream of to show them 'the world' will tolerate Syria using weapons that have killed about 1/10000th of the people we have killed in the past decade.

    We might not use WMD, but we destruct far more with massive amounts of weapons have that kill far more, far faster, and we do it where ever the F we want.  we have become a country of mass destruction and they are falling over themselves for more.


    Not the same (none / 0) (#50)
    by woodchuck64 on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 04:20:09 PM EST
    Chemical warfare and WMDs in general are about the "mass" killing part.  They 're characterized by the killing of all life within a large area in one deployment. The responsible party effectively judges all persons in that area as worthy of death and summarily executes them all in one action.

    Drone killing, on the other hand, recognizes that only a few deserve to die (justified in various ways) and that those persons are embedded within a larger innocent population that should not be harmed.

    Thus, the decision to employ drone killing has to be morally superior to a decision to employ mass-area killing because the existence of innocents in the population area at all is recognized and because innocents are valued.  Arguing that there is no moral value to recognizing innocents --as would be implied by arguing there is no moral difference between drone killing and the use of chemical weapons -- is odd indeed.

    Similarly, drone killing techniques that are employed at the wrong time and take out innocent bystanders are clearly morally inferior to drone killing techniques that avoid those issues.

    Finally, while drone-killing has killed innocents, it is not intended to and it is improving in precision, unlike mass killing, and this is demonstrated by the reduction in civilian casualties over time as a percentage of total deaths in drone strikes as monitored by the New America Foundation.  Recognizing and reducing innocent deaths is clearly morally superior to ignoring innocent deaths.


    So the Actual Numbers... (5.00 / 3) (#119)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 10:01:06 AM EST
    ...aren't important, it's the concept, not the number of bodies.  Very convenient for us, don't you think.

    Who by the way gets to decide this, I am guessing the people who have killed many more and who can afford the technology to use, and claim, that drones are less evil.

    Pretty sure the dead folks don't care and it's pretty damn presumptuous of anyone to claim that killing innocent people using a method A is somehow morally superior then method B or C when they account for more dead bodies.

    Lucky for us that we have determined drones are morally superior or we might be the ones getting bombed in the near future by some jack@sses claiming their method of killing of innocent people is superior and to prove it they would bomb us.  Lucky for us morality allowed us to use napalm and the atomic bomb and as luck would have it, morality on those methods ended right after we used them.


    Number of bodies. (3.50 / 2) (#141)
    by woodchuck64 on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 06:25:02 PM EST
    I don't want to avoid the issue you raised about number of bodies.  Here's why I have a problem with it.  

    This article says that 13 innocent people died as a result of ambulance crashes in 2010.  From that we can probably estimate that 10 or so innocent people die as a result of speeding ambulances every year on average.  Thus, we can choose a particular time period and sum up some number of casualties: from 2000-2010 probably 100 people died.

    Then, is it fair to say that hospitals or our system of medical care in the US is morally equivalent to someone who kills 100 people with chemical weapons?  After all, they both kill the same number of innocent people.  

    I'd say no, absolutely not.  What would you say?


    Then solve this puzzle for me (none / 0) (#129)
    by woodchuck64 on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 02:43:12 PM EST
    If there is no moral difference between drone killing and the use of chemical weapons, then there is no moral value in attempting to recognize and avoid killing innocents, which is the one area in which drone killing and chemical weapon use differ.

    But there must be a  moral value in attempting to recognize and avoid killing innocents, that's self-evident!  So there must be a moral difference between drone killing and the use of chemical weapons.

    So which is it?


    You think what happened to these kids (5.00 / 2) (#51)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 04:22:30 PM EST
    in Syria is worse than all of the other ways that children die in the worldwide genocides.  I have to say you live in a narrowly focused world then.

    Your argument is exceedingly weak.  But keep believing it.  It's what Obama wants.


    so your point is... (1.50 / 2) (#64)
    by woodchuck64 on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 05:55:31 PM EST
    So your point is we should be blase about all this? Just another mass killing of children... (yawn).  Good golly what will those crazy governments do next.

    Or is your argument that we should be doing something about those other worldwide child genocides right now?  If so, which places right now are experiencing atrocities and violation of "international norms" by their own governments for which it makes more sense to intervene than Syria?


    Only then? (5.00 / 2) (#114)
    by Nemi on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 07:05:23 AM EST
    ... which places right now are experiencing atrocities and violation of "international norms" by their own governments for which it makes more sense to intervene than Syria?"

    So in your opinion the only justification to react and/or intervene is when children die and people are killed "by their own governments" ?


    Jeebus (3.00 / 2) (#66)
    by sj on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 06:22:53 PM EST
    No reading comprehension whatsoever. No analysis skills. A view that contains only either/or with nothing in between. Is that the full depth of your moral analysis?

    insults (2.00 / 1) (#70)
    by woodchuck64 on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 06:46:43 PM EST
    Reading comprehension?  Look back at what I'm responding to.  Where are there details to read that answer my question?

    Similarly analysis. Where?

    Certainly I can fill in the blanks, but why guess?  

    Parroting my claim about moral analysis?  I specifically asked you a question about a moral dilemma which you dodged.  You had a chance to convey a nuanced understanding of morality but you avoided it.  Why?

    Insults just hint at a position that is too shaky and insecure to be exposed.


    Oh, give me a break (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by sj on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 07:06:03 PM EST
    You dived into this thread doling out insults from the get go. The with-me-or-against-me attitude just drips off your comments. If those are the only choices then I'm against you. You don't provide analysis. Only assertions. And not original ones at that.

    I strongly disagree with what MKS has to say, but at least he's thought about it, and has fleshed out those thoughts and is willing to defend them. He gives something to think about.

    You are offering nothing new. Not even new insults.


    I've been punched. (2.00 / 1) (#75)
    by woodchuck64 on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 07:17:23 PM EST
    I just checked my recent comments, found no insults at all (much less personal), quite a bit of analysis, detail, even a URL or two, not to my surprise.

    For some reason you want to be really, really nasty.  Fair enough.  But there's not much I'm going to change.  I'll avoid insults, I'll keep my comments substantive, with a snark here or there when I think its called for, and maybe a sharp word or two when I'm unfairly attacked.


    woodchuck64 (3.50 / 2) (#77)
    by Politalkix on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 07:20:50 PM EST
    Just ignore her. She is not worth your time.

    You are amusing (none / 0) (#84)
    by sj on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 08:55:41 PM EST
    Annoying. but also amusing.

    I guess hippie punching (none / 0) (#83)
    by sj on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 08:54:48 PM EST
    is so natural to you that you don't consider it condescending and insulting. And maybe do consider it nuanced analysis. Speaking of not being worth the time.

    I'm only condescending when condescended. (2.00 / 1) (#117)
    by woodchuck64 on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 09:33:18 AM EST
    I recall your replies to two of my serious yet pointed comments were something like "::head desk::" and "Pot Kettle Black" or something like that.  It would be hard to think of a more ambiguous, content-free, condescending response.

    My reply that clearly got under your skin was the moral question, fat man and trolley.  Yes, that was a bit condescending, but a reasonable response to your 1-dimensional caricature "kill people to save people" comment.  And, further, it allowed you to come back with a devastating response if I have misjudged your position.  But, no, I got something about "hippie punching", which frankly had me chuckling even if I did find it inexplicable.

    In any case, I don't mind insults or condescension, I have enormously thick skin from a lifetime of internet discussion.  But I do mind when discussion partners avoid the issue, dodge questions and skirt substantial issues.  Oooo that rankles me!  That's how you get under my skin.  And you've done it marvelously so far.


    Inexplicable? (none / 0) (#121)
    by sj on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 12:31:27 PM EST
    Google the term, and then reread your condescending "flowers and peace symbols" remark. Add that to the "moral high horse" snideness, as you pontificated from atop yours.

    There could have been no pot/kettle comment had you not dropped your original condescending remark.

    Stop making this about me, as if there is any sort of relationship to you. It is your remarks that are being weighed, not your person. Your remarks, which not coincidentally,  added nothing to the discussion. Just thrown out there because you think you know better and decided to pass judgement.

    I have no interest in more discussion with someone who has no self-awareness. So unbelievably unself-aware that there are three completely substance-free paragraphs even as you tout your interest in "substantial issues".

    At least when I'm being obnoxious, I know I'm being obnoxious... eventually.

    Now go away, talk about the issue at hand -- which is an important one -- and let each comment speak for itself. Because it is doubtful that anyone really cares whether you "chuckle" or not. Or how thin your skin is.


    You're mistaken. (1.00 / 2) (#128)
    by woodchuck64 on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 02:35:58 PM EST
    There could have been no pot/kettle comment had you not dropped your original condescending remark.

    What are you talking about? This was my original remark.  Pointed but not condescending:

    There is no need to be on such a moral high horse.  It should be clear that those that support deterrence and degrade through military strikes are thinking of the lives lost already as well as lives saved in the future by preventing future chemical weapons attacks.  Whether they are correct are not, it is human lives that matter, same as you.  Why demonize?

    If you think this comment justifies your escalation to an angry firestorm of personal insults, you are clearly the thinnest of the thin-skinned.


    Gassing kids stands out (none / 0) (#147)
    by MKS on Sat Sep 07, 2013 at 07:10:36 PM EST
    We prosecuted the Nazis for gassing their own people as a Crime Against Humanity.

    We can militarily intervene to address Assad's gassing of his own people under the aegis of enforcing the prohibition against Crimes Against Humanity.


    Incineration (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by lentinel on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 04:52:26 PM EST
    by drone, our method of choice, is no picnic either I would imagine.

    Sure about that? (none / 0) (#45)
    by me only on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 02:54:51 PM EST
    If one (5.00 / 4) (#16)
    by lentinel on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 10:16:05 AM EST
    can say, as BTD does, that

    No one seems engaged in the business of the hard thinking and hard work that should entail the most momentous decision any country can take - the decision to go to war.

    Of course I agree with this concise and precise statement.

    It is difficult it seems to me to characterize the mindset of a President who is seeking to push this resolution through, a resolution so lacking in "thinking and hard work", without resorting to verbiage that is extreme. So I am sympathetic to Dadler below in his use of language that is "over the top".

    After all, it is our very lives Mr. Obama is toying with, as well as the lives of the Syrian people who are caught in the grip of an ongoing civil war.

    Ignoring the UN is not something that is particular to this administration. GW Bush did it in grand style. I remember when they took their WMD scenario to the UN, and it became obvious that no one except the principals in that farce were particularly impressed. I think it was Rummy who said, "Well, we don't need their permission". That's the attitude that still prevails in D.C.

    To further muddy the waters, and to further illustrate the lack of serious thought, or honest presentation of what Obama actually wants to get in this resolution, is the reality of the nature of the rebels in Syria.

    The front page of todays Times shows a group of rebel soldiers standing over a group of prisoners who are stripped to the waist and lying face down on the ground before them.

    They then proceeded to shoot them all, dead.

    There is also the suspicion, admittedly unverified, that it is the rebels who have used chemical weapons. Also unverified is the use by the government because Obama has such apparent contempt for the UN that he will not wait for the report of their inspectors - who were made to flee Syria lest they be caught in a rain of American bombs.

    I hope that the members of Congress will rise above partisanship and any other considerations other than the reality of what has
    been presented to them by the Obama administration - its impact upon the American people and the rest of the world.

    Finally, the vote in favor of this resolution in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was 10 to 7.
    When it is a matter of committing the American people to another war in the mid-East, 10 to 7 is not good enough.
    In fact, imo, that should have ended  the matter.

    As soon as (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by Edger on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 10:22:17 AM EST
    the UN Inspectors report that they've indeed found indications of Sarin in Ghouta we'll see a loud chorus of "See! Assad did this!" all over this site, because of course the Sarin molecules will have Assad's fingerprints all over them although that of course will be classified which will prove that obama wouldn't lie, of course.

    Scotch may help.


    Two Points (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by vicndabx on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 11:09:15 AM EST
    Lederman's response is spot on:

    .....the President was implying, quite forthrightly, that because the UNSC system is often dysfunctional when humanitarian crises are at stake, there may be times when breaches of Article 2(4) of the Charter are legitimate or even morally compelled.....

    What the President goes on to suggest, however, is that "in those circumstances"-that is, when "humanity is impacted in a profound way" but the Charter system is incapable of action-"it's important for us to get out of the habit" of the President acting unilaterally.  That is to say, such a breach of a treaty obligation is a very solemn thing, one that ought to be done only rarely and reluctantly, and-most importantly-with the concurrence of Congress, rather than by the President alone.

    how are either of these a bad thing?

    Regarding treaty obligations, he goes on to cite  Kosovo:

    The other day, I suggested that the President does not have the constitutional power to unilaterally put the U.S. in violation of a treaty obligation, even when it might be the morally proper course of action-which is why I continue to think the Kosovo decision was so troubling from a constitutional perspective.

    IANAL, and certainly no international law expert.  Nonetheless, after reading the Chemical Weapons Convention, I'm wondering if concerns about chemical weapons use in Kosovo and Syria, provide a justification for action that people making arguments for/against aren't familiar with.

    This clause specifically:

    Nothing in this Convention shall be interpreted as impeding the right of States Parties to request and provide assistance bilaterally and to conclude individual agreements with other States Parties concerning the emergency procurement of assistance.

    Is it a treaty violation if some other treaty specifically allows the conduct?

    The progressive argument against helping people here seems out of sync with the ideals, IMO.

    That is called (5.00 / 3) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 11:17:41 AM EST
    conceding the point. You cite Lederman saying:

    "there may be times when breaches of Article 2(4) of the Charter are legitimate or even morally compelled....."

    We must break international norms to uphold them is the argument now.

    I have a better option for you - stop saying you are upholding an international norm.

    You're not.


    Maybe, Maybe Not (none / 0) (#27)
    by vicndabx on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 11:20:21 AM EST
    what of the other treaty I cite?

    The enforcement mechanism (none / 0) (#30)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 11:37:22 AM EST
    is international, not unilateral.

    What about the Nuremberg Trials? (none / 0) (#144)
    by MKS on Sat Sep 07, 2013 at 06:54:18 PM EST
    They created new standards out of whole cloth.  Not based on treaties or prior precedent.

    Assad is apparently guilty of Crimes Against Humanity.  Syria need not have signed the Chemical Weapons Treaty.

    The International Law the U.S. would be enforcing is the prohibition against Crimes Against Humanity.  

    I would assert the Nuremberg Principles as a Common Law exception to the Statutes you cite.


    Also, is it an international norm to be the victim (none / 0) (#29)
    by vicndabx on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 11:32:45 AM EST
    of a chemical weapons attack? Read the preamble of the convention....

    Recognizing the prohibition, embodied in the pertinent agreements and relevant principles of international law, of the use of herbicides as a method of warfare

    Not for nothing, I think you are being a little short-sighted to make a minor point about norms.  No disrespect intended.


    Not for nothing (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 11:38:14 AM EST
    I am making a point, not a global argument on the Syria strike.

    I am asking that those who support the strike stop making the false claims on international norms.


    How would you actually enforce (none / 0) (#48)
    by christinep on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 04:06:51 PM EST
    the convention against illegal use of chemical weaponry, BTD?  How would you enforce when the cards dealt are two Security Council members--Russia & China--promising vetoes of almost anything but talk?  How would you enforce the norms when diplomatic efforts have been pressed strenuously by the State Department at least through the past year (via then Secretary Clinton's personal commitment, time, energy & travel) and, per our UN Ambassador Power today at the UN, through the recognized UN diplomatic channels for two-and-a-half years? What steps would you take now ... and what leverage would you have to take those steps?

    And, finally from my high-horse (because we all seem to be astride various high-horses), should the steps include a punitive component?  When the international norms about gassing are reprehensibly transgressed, must it contain a punitive measure?  Or our words enough? For all the questions about military strategy--and those questions are legitimate--there are equally legitimate questions about appearing to "stay the hand" to the point of doing nothing in the heretofore power equation that has marked the world?  Again in sum: What are the precise steps that would fulfill the enforcement role expected?  And, in the same vein as the concerns about what precise outcome would be expected from targeted military strikes, what does restraint from targeted military response accomplish ... and, why would there be the proposed accomplished without a consequential disincentive?


    So Start From this Moment ? (5.00 / 3) (#53)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 04:33:05 PM EST
    There is a reason we are backed in a corner, we have burned about every international bridge we have had contact with.

    The obvious is Russia, the ticky/tack non-sense over one person, who we never got, has really come back to haunt us.  And now we are going to say FU to the UN, which of course is just one more bridge to burn.

    It would be nice if our leaders could grasp the fact that we don't run/own the world.  And that from time to time, compromises have to be made to ensure the times when you need their help, they aren't running for the hills.

    So to answer your questions, we should have never backed ourselves into a corner in which no one wants to help us stop a country from using WMD's on it's own citizens.  Those questions would have been better served before we burned those bridges, not after.  And just maybe, one of the idiots will grasp the fact that telling the UN to go F themselves might not be in or best interests in the future, but I highly doubt it.


    And sure enough (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by sj on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 04:56:05 PM EST
    You called it.

    We are such a nation of whiny ineptitude. All this focus on school yard bullies should have taken place years ago before so many of those bullies grew up and took positions in government.


    We're not backed into a corner. (5.00 / 1) (#69)
    by woodchuck64 on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 06:38:04 PM EST
    Putin asked for proof, that's a problem for his position.  He will get enough proof from the UN inspections to put his current position in doubt.  It's  unlikely Obama would have taken the issue so far without solid evidence as well as evidence that won't evaporate with time.

    The play right now seems to be to convince Russia and China that we will act unilaterally even though we won't and let them consider and threaten their worst case response-- which will surely entail far more risk and sacrifice than the US is taking.  Then the UN report provides cover for both China and Russia to backtrack.  

    Of course I don't know this for a fact but this is one possibility and seems more plausible than assuming everyone but me is an idiot.


    This says what (none / 0) (#55)
    by sj on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 04:47:12 PM EST
    I wanted to say, but says it so much better.

    Interesting, but (none / 0) (#58)
    by christinep on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 04:58:56 PM EST
    your response is primarily addressing what went wrong, what we may have done wrong in the past, etc.  We didn't strike those Syrian men, women, children from the Assad-controlled section of Syria.  We didn't cause that strike.

    In this world where lots of nations don't have clean hands in a number of matters--and that is an understatement--nevertheless, there is almost total world unanimity over the years that using chemical weapons against citizenry is illegal and morally wrong. So ... back to the primary question above: What steps, precisely, should be taken today/now/tomorrow to respond to the mass gassing in Syria on August 21st?  Should there be an enforcement, punitive component in the response ... or is a paper agreement enough? If the latter is the goal, why would we believe a paper agreement would serve to deter future use...especially since there had been no consequence other that verbal condemnation for the August 21st instance?

    Tough questions, I know.


    Your questions aren't so much tough (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by sj on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 05:10:39 PM EST
    as they are poorly designed. But they are from the same playbook that's been in use for the last 12 years so I get where they come from. Well, maybe not exactly. Your questions are a little better than the ones our diplomats stopped asking long ago.

    Because lately our "diplomats" do no asking -- hard questions or not. They just do telling, handing out bitter pills and expecting the recipients to swallow them without asking questions and then say "thank you".

    Did you really think that strutting around, publicly pushing "our" chest out would get any response other than resistance?

    I think we need new and better diplomats. Diplomacy used to be a valuable skill. Now more than ever the title "diplomat" is handed out as a favor for services rendered. You get what you nurture, I guess.


    The Diplomatic service needs to be revisited (none / 0) (#65)
    by christinep on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 06:11:29 PM EST
    Agree.  BUT, the questions are tough, aren't they ... because, I see a reluctance here to deal with how one meshes enforcement for the wrongs described with diplomatic resolution in a broader, preventive sense.  And, I suspect, the real hard question might have to do with the "punitive" aspect of enforcement (aka "penalty".)  As a one-time and long-time "enforcer" for government--mostly on the civil side--I appreciate the differences in aspects of life and society where enforcement means having to come to grips with something ugly and what the punishment for that should be.  In many ways, that age-old question can only be answered case-by-case.

    The question as to what precise steps to take now, at present to redress the acknowledged atrocities in Syria remains.


    It does. (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by sj on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 06:27:45 PM EST
    The question as to what precise steps to take now, at present to redress the acknowledged atrocities in Syria remains.
    What does one do after painting oneself into a corner? Surely there are avenues other than tossing bombs as a first resort.

    Yes, sj, and what are those avenues? (none / 0) (#87)
    by christinep on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:07:19 PM EST
    Utilize the back channels ... (4.40 / 5) (#94)
    by sj on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:27:03 PM EST
    of diplomacy. Stop going directly to press conferences to issue not-so-veiled threats and begin the drum beat of inevitability. Stop forcing the inevitability.

    There are no good guys in the Syrian conflict. Stop trying to create one. I hate being propagandized. And I especially hate it when I see it for what it is. If Obama hadn't been in a snit about Snowden he might have had a more open door to Russia now that he needs one.


    Life isn't Snowden; in this case, (2.00 / 1) (#125)
    by christinep on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 01:56:49 PM EST
    it is about deaths from illegal use of chemical weapons.  Lets not detract from that.  By the way, my focus has been almost entirely on the use of such weapons and the fairly heavy evidence that the event emanated from area under Assad's control in Syria.  I did not say one side in the Civil War is better positioned to govern or has better intentions than the other ... only addressing the horrific result of the use of chemical weaponry. That is my focus.

    Always agree that back-door channels should continue to be pursued as well (as they have evidently been used, per the US Ambassador, for 2+ years to date in diplomatic negotiations.) Even in the midst of "war" it is not abnormal for parties to carry on back-door negotiations.  (By the way, as I just heard about Sens. Heitkamp & Manchin proposal to forestall our strike in the event that Assad would sign on to a ban of the use of such weaponry ... with the time allotted for that agreement to be signed at @45 days ... looks promising.)


    Read that sentence again (5.00 / 2) (#131)
    by sj on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 03:07:33 PM EST
    I said:
    If Obama hadn't been in a snit about Snowden he might have had a more open door to Russia now that he needs one.
    In fact, read the whole comment again. And while you're at it, read what I was responding to. You asked a question, I answered. I was discussing diplomacy. Let's not detract from that. And what I said was true. Obama canceled a planned meeting with Putin because he was in a snit about Snowden.



    You missed my point entirely (5.00 / 2) (#90)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:12:02 PM EST
    I am not judging the potential actin by some "international norm" position.

    Have you ever read me do it?

    I am telling people to stop citing it as the basis of their argument because what they are arguing for is  A VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW!!


    That doesn't follow, BTD. (none / 0) (#91)
    by christinep on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:14:12 PM EST
    It follows completely (5.00 / 4) (#97)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:44:03 PM EST
    Let me try it this way - stop saying you want to enforce international law when what you propose is violating international law.

    Honestly, what is hard to understand about that?


    Listening to the president, it's apparent (5.00 / 2) (#118)
    by Anne on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 09:41:25 AM EST
    that he, too, has a problem with this concept.

    And there, as they say, is the rub...


    No, I will not stop saying that (1.00 / 1) (#126)
    by christinep on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 02:06:11 PM EST
    because the comparison of the two are really false equivalencies for a number of reasons.  Hate to say it, but a violation that involves the use of chemical weaponry against people with their resultant agonizing deaths (caught on camera) stands at a level way above the growth pains of the UN that has been having its own problems in effective response and actions when called for (see, especially, the Security Council.)  And, yes, I am quite aware that my argument picks & chooses violations, as it were (sort of like recognizing different levels of crimes and sins.) And, it also causes some personal consternation on my homefront because my husband has been officially associated with the UN Foundation and UNICEF for a number of devoted years.  To me, the vast difference between the two is so great and the result so meaningful, that my conscience is clear in supporting a meaningful punitive military strike.

    That is absolute and total rubbish (5.00 / 3) (#127)
    by bmaz on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 02:14:44 PM EST
    Chapter Seven, Articles 39-51 of the root UN Charter have FAR more primacy than the Chemical Weapons Convention to which Syria is neither a signatory to, nor bound by.

    Bull (none / 0) (#130)
    by christinep on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 02:49:24 PM EST
    That confirms (5.00 / 3) (#132)
    by bmaz on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 03:17:03 PM EST
    You do not know the slightest thing about what you are talking about. It is a FACT Syria is not a signatory to the CW Convention. It is a FACT that Chapter Seven of the UN Charter allows affirmative war under only very restricted conditions. Why don't you try reading the material and making specific cites to support your position?

    Until you do, you are blowing conclusory, and false, bull.


    Blowing Bull? (5.00 / 2) (#133)
    by squeaky on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 03:25:18 PM EST
    Interesting mixed metaphor...  never heard it before but it is good.

    Heh, well (none / 0) (#134)
    by bmaz on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 04:05:27 PM EST
    I try to get the point across while respecting Jeralyn's commenting rules you know. Not always easy...

    Stop trying to bully me, bmaz (none / 0) (#135)
    by christinep on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 05:01:21 PM EST
    I have no intention of getting into a p***ing match with you about who knows more.  The problem with what you are saying is that it stems from comparing apples to oranges ... this is about the reality of the gassing & its consequences when viewed in light of the UN's paralysis in the Security Council ... we are not play "what ifs" but rather "what is."  I recognize what the UN requires by way of procedural steps; I also recognize the level of the crime in Damascus on August 21st.

    That's funny (5.00 / 1) (#137)
    by bmaz on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 05:18:02 PM EST
    I am not bullying you in the least. Simply explaining why you argument does not hold water. You said:

    Hate to say it, but a violation that involves the use of chemical weaponry against people with their resultant agonizing deaths (caught on camera) stands at a level way above the growth pains of the UN that has been having its own problems in effective response and actions when called for (see, especially, the Security Council.)

    That is patently false, and I explained why. You do not even attempt to rationally controvert; probably because you cannot. It is simple argument and discussion.


    Your''e just wrong (5.00 / 2) (#140)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 05:42:50 PM EST
    It's not even a matter of opinion.

    Apparently (3.00 / 2) (#136)
    by sj on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 05:03:00 PM EST
    you are immune to being confused by facts. Who needs them when you have an opinion?

    As am matter of intl law (5.00 / 2) (#139)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 05:42:24 PM EST
    it's not even disputable Christine.

    As I said, international law is completely against you here.


    I understand International Law (none / 0) (#142)
    by christinep on Sat Sep 07, 2013 at 02:17:46 PM EST
    and I understand the undergirding of the international convention against the use of weapons used on August 21st by Assad's Syria. (See the EU's statement today noting that evidence is increasingly showing that the finger points to Assad.  See statement of 10 of the G20 the day before saying the same thing ... plus, Germany joined in today.)  Look, I full well understand conflicting laws (legal & moral) ... I understand that the UN calls for certain procedures to be abided by.  Most important, for me, is that I also know that there may come a time in a person's life (maybe once or twice) that one would conclude, nonetheless, that the hard hand that is proposed here should be the approach.

    I respect your position; but, I cannot agree.  As a practicing Catholic, I fully support as well Pope Francis' Prayer Vigil today.  Here is why: Intrapersonal, interpersonal, intra-national, international conflicts of the most pressing and difficult nature aren't really given to a straight-line resolution.  There is nothing wrong with the position or posture of moving resolutely, as the President is doing, while directly involving Congress and other nations and a national address planned for Tuesday.  It makes sense to keep moving the ball as the UN inspectors' complete their analysis and report.

    Frankly, who knows where this is going ... but, judging from the EU comments today and Germany's support, it may not be surprising to see Putin feel a certain international pressure building. (Playing on the Putin court of the Security Council, as earlier tried, was going nowhere. That was the jumping-off point for me.) If that is so, these maneuvers could lead to the kind of negotiated result through hard, non-blinking drive from the WH--the face that says "I mean business"--that most would welcome.  The carrot & stick doesn't work unless an old pro like Assad (or benefactor Putin) comes to believe that the US, indeed, will act... because without the harsh consequence, there is no pressure.  It could all be accidentally converging this way, of course, these several related world threads ... or it could be that this President is more willing to play poker than some might think.


    Christine, you are right (5.00 / 1) (#146)
    by MKS on Sat Sep 07, 2013 at 07:02:51 PM EST
    Your views are what drove the Nuremberg Trials.

    The Nuremberg Principles stand for the proposition that there are certain uncodified humanitarian standards that form part of International Law.

    Crimes Against Humanity and Waging An Aggressive War were not codified in any prior statute or treaty.  They were standards imposed in an ex post facto basis without precedent.

    This entire discussion is deficient without a discussion of Nuremberg.  It is like doing legal research on an issue by only analyzing the statutes and not the case law.

    This is an incomplete discussion.


    Your statement's... (none / 0) (#148)
    by bmaz on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 11:20:33 PM EST
    ...tragically belie your claims. that, in addition to consistently failing to answer the questions and posits of both BTD and me. It is because your position does not survive scrutiny.

    They are at different levels (5.00 / 3) (#138)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 05:41:37 PM EST
    I was being kind to your position as a question of international law - Syria is not a signatory to the CW Treaty.

    The US IS a signatory of the UN Charter.

    You make a MORAL argument, not an argument based on international law.

    MY point is you should stop making the international law based argument because your position is complete horsecrap.


    Hold on for a second (none / 0) (#143)
    by MKS on Sat Sep 07, 2013 at 06:47:47 PM EST
    The Nuremberg principles were "new" law not previously embodied in prior treaties.

    Prior to Nuremberg, there was precedent for prosecution of War Crimes going back to Andersonville.  But War Crimes were crimes committed against an opposing country's people and soldiers.

    There was no precedent or treaties regarding the Nuremberg charges of Crimes Against Humanity and Waging an Aggressive War.  These were new.

    Crimes Against Humanity were about killing your own people.  Waging an Aggressive War had no precedent at all.

    If your analysis does not include Nuremberg, I cannot see how it is not incomplete.

    Nuremberg stands for the proposition, I would submit, that there is such a thing as International Common Law.  You are analyzing Statutes and Treaties. Just one source for International Law.

    Nuremberg was criticized as an Ex Post Facto imposition of new law.  And, yes, the Nazis killing of German citizens was a violation of German law.  But we did not try the Nazis for violating German Law and probably did not have jurisdiction to do so.

    The idea behind Nuremberg was that there are certain humanitarian norms that are not necessarily codified that form part of International Law.

    Christine's mere "moral" qualms are exactly what drove the Nuremberg Trials.


    The treay ecplains how (5.00 / 1) (#89)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:09:32 PM EST
    Through the UN Security Council.

    Apparently people don;t like THAT International Norm.


    As a strong supporter of adhering to the (5.00 / 3) (#33)
    by MO Blue on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 12:30:44 PM EST
    agreements set forth in the convention, I am surprised that you are ignoring this wee point about the Protocol and the convention:  

    The Geneva Protocol of 1925 (which Syria ratified) and the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 (which Syria has not ratified) ban the use of chemical weapons, but do not authorize countries to attack other countries that violate these treaties.

    Is it that you do not know this or like other involved in this debate, you want to pick and choose which parts of the agreement (and law) you want to accept and which parts (laws and agreements) you want to break.


    I don't want to break anything (none / 0) (#37)
    by vicndabx on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 12:50:10 PM EST
    what I don't think we should do is dodder about quoting pieces of paper worrying about norms when situations outside of the norm arise.  Deaths such as these are to a certain extent preventable.

    Where have you seen me advocating breaking any law?  I have been researching ways international law could be upheld should we be unable to reach consensus in the UN.


    Here's some food for thought, (5.00 / 3) (#40)
    by Anne on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 12:59:30 PM EST
    that is part of a much, much longer post at Lawfare:

    President Obama and American officials have said, in effect, that it's a flaw of the international order that the Security Council can become deadlocked on a vital issue such as Syria's chemical weapon's use.  As I point out in my 2012 book, Living with the UN: American Responsibilities and International Order, however, from the standpoint of the institutional and historical design of the Security Council, that's a feature, not a bug.  It's a deliberate design feature because it aims at bringing matters to a deadlocked standstill where the risk is great power conflict that might conceivably lead to war among them.  No doubt that is not an issue here and now, but if the preservation of the norm against chemical weapon use is a pragmatic concern, it is also a pragmatic concern that the role of the Security Council not be undermined.  "Bypassed," as the Russian spokesman said, in ways that might, over time, lead to war among the great powers - including those great powers that are not today permanent members of the Security Council.

    Your comment is really, really amusing (5.00 / 2) (#43)
    by MO Blue on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 01:06:58 PM EST
    especially since you have dodder about quoting pieces of paper in your last comment. That was you who cited and quoted part of the the preamble of the convention....now wasn't it. So basically if you don't think we should dodder about quoting pieces of paper, maybe you could stop doing it.

    Correct me if I am wrong but in all of your past comments you seem to be advocating for and justifying Obama bombing Syria. That action is against international law. So if you advocate for an U.S. military strike in Syria, you are in fact advocating for breaking international law. Don't understand how you can deny that since the fact that this action is against the law is what this post and others like it is all about.  


    Agreed (none / 0) (#41)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 01:00:43 PM EST
    supporters of military intervention should stop doddering on about international norms if they are unwilling to accept them.

    Read this (none / 0) (#32)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 11:40:59 AM EST

    Article XII. Measures to Redress a Situation and to Ensure Compliance, Including Sanctions
    1. The Conference shall take the necessary measures, as set forth in paragraphs 2, 3 and 4, to ensure compliance with this Convention and to redress and remedy any situation which contravenes the provisions of this Convention.  In considering action pursuant to this paragraph, the Conference shall take into account all information and recommendations on the issues submitted by the Executive Council.
    2. In cases where a State Party has been requested by the Executive Council to take measures to redress a situation raising problems with regard to its compliance, and where the State Party fails to fulfil the request within the specified time, the Conference may, inter alia, upon the recommendation of the Executive Council, restrict or suspend the State Party's rights and privileges under this Convention until it undertakes the necessary action to conform with its obligations under this Convention.
    3. In cases where serious damage to the object and purpose of this Convention may result from activities prohibited under this Convention, in particular by Article I, the Conference may recommend collective measures to States Parties in conformity with international law.
    4. The Conference shall, in cases of particular gravity, bring the issue, including relevant information and conclusions, to the attention of the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council.

    International norms anyone?


    Don't disagree with you on this (none / 0) (#35)
    by vicndabx on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 12:37:33 PM EST
    but it is also true that the treaty itself allows parties to seek assistance bilaterally, which would mean someone has to be acting unilaterally.

    Could it be the treaty drafters were smart enough to build in a hedge for the future?

    Bilateral agreements are also international norms.  I would submit bilateral agreements that violate international norms are themselves international norms.

    You were making this point yesterday w/MKS.  I don't see the rationale behind a UN SC vote to have it shot down by Russia and/or China.

    Nevertheless, the fact is the US hasn't violated any treaty yet and we are in the midst of the process you linked to above.


    That's funny (5.00 / 2) (#38)
    by bmaz on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 12:55:10 PM EST
    Because it sure has not been the historical US position. I guess situational ethics come a lot easier for you than me.

    Not bilaterally (none / 0) (#42)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 01:02:02 PM EST
    they ask it of the international community.

    You misunderstand the treaty.


    How does that... (none / 0) (#47)
    by bmaz on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 03:53:03 PM EST
    ...over come the restriction of affirmative act of war force to either permissive grants from UNSC under Articles 39 and 42 or, alternatively, self defense?

    I don't know that it does (none / 0) (#82)
    by vicndabx on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 08:16:46 PM EST
    that's why I was asking the question.

    Nuremberg (none / 0) (#145)
    by MKS on Sat Sep 07, 2013 at 06:55:21 PM EST
    If we are willing to skip a few steps, (5.00 / 3) (#34)
    by KeysDan on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 12:31:13 PM EST
    as we are more than willing to do, such as demonstration to the world of the "high confidence" evidence of what occurred to, and by whom, and the difference between international "norms" and international "laws,"  and move on to what, where and how much bombing is required, it would be nice if the Administration could find some stability to the rationale for war, or whatever this is to be, and stick with it.

    The reasons are shifting faster than desert sands: send a message;  punishment, a shot across the bow, deter and degrade, or, Mr. Kerry's newest argument given to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: extremist groups fighting against the Syrian government will become stronger if the US did not carry out a military strike.  Of course, as Mr. Kerry added, some of our Arab friends  will provide arms and financing to the best rebel fighters, regardless of whether they are extremists, and then we will have created more extremists and a greater long term problem down the road.  

    So, I guess there is some long term strategies lurking in their own confusion. It is true that many Arab nations will hold our coat while we do the fighting, but do not worry, they will stuff the pockets with cash.

    This end run around the UN is the most destructive effort against its capabilities since John Bolton proposed knocking off 10 stories of the 38 story UN Secretariat building in NYC.  And, we have not even tried to bring the matter to the UN, assuming that it would be blocked by Russia and China.  Of course, Mr. Obama was in Sweden because he scotched his private meeting with Putin.

     Maybe, more effort should have gone into improved relations with Russia and less effort into our issue of Snowden.  After all, the use of poison gas is a war crime and as clarified at Nurenberg,  crimes are committed by individuals .  Only they are responsible and accountable.  The Security Council could refer these crimes of leaders to the Hague to determine the facts--even more than to "high confidence."   Bombing a country for accountability, degrades the bomber more than the bombee.  

    Re the expectation/wish for World consensus (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Nemi on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 03:36:43 PM EST
    From Reuters:

    The first round at the summit went to Putin, as China, the European Union, the BRICS emerging economies and Pope Francis - in a letter - warned of the dangers of military intervention without the approval of the U.N. Security Council.

    "Military action would have a negative impact on the global economy, especially on the oil price - it will cause a hike in the oil price," Chinese Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said.

    The BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - echoed that remark, and the Pope, who leads the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, urged the G20 leaders to "lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution".

    European Union leaders described the August 21 attack near Damascus, which killed up to 1,400 people, as "abhorrent" but said: "There is no military solution to the Syrian conflict."


    Putin says rebel forces may have carried out the poison gas attack and that any military strike without Security Council approval would violate international law, a view now being supported increasingly openly by others - including countries that have usually disagreed with Moscow on Syria.

    United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi are also in St. Petersburg to push for diplomacy rather than military options, and support efforts to organize an international peace conference on Syria.

    Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, portrayed the "camp of supporters of a strike on Syria" as divided, and said: "It is impossible to say that very many states support the idea of a military operation."

    Wow. (5.00 / 2) (#54)
    by lentinel on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 04:46:59 PM EST
    Let's hear it for Pope Francis!

    Speaking (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by lentinel on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 04:30:52 PM EST
    of international norms, it is sobering to note that the nuclear weapons that we and other members of what is called a "club" possess, power which can incinerate every living soul on the planet, have been accepted as "norms".

    Something is askew.

    Try reading the post again (5.00 / 1) (#85)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:04:40 PM EST
    You didn't understand it.

    A cakewalk (5.00 / 2) (#93)
    by Edger on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:17:51 PM EST
    "Don't worry -- this war won't be another Syria."
    -- Whoever's president in 2023

    Do you need any more proof... (4.50 / 4) (#5)
    by Dadler on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:06:38 AM EST
    ....that Obama is one seriously addled mind, and a minor league one at that? He is going to be blown further into diplomatic/credibility irrelevance by the guy who held up a fake bag of crack during a speech to the American people and lied about it being bought across the street from the White House. By the guy who said "Read my lips..." By guy who spawned Dubya.

    You are talking irrational and illogical and plain ol' stupid that you can't get at the five and dime. Takes a special kind of incompetent mind.

    Another great post on this topic, BTD. Thanks.

    Well, if Tent downrated me.... (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Dadler on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:20:47 AM EST
    ...I think I need to take to the pine.

    Sorry, BTD, but what you've just described is a President with a worse critical intellect, in this case, than some of the most inept executives we've seen.

    (Actually the economic incompetence and corruption he's shown, I must admit, is probably a worse example.)



    If you read the LawFare/Goldsmith (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by Anne on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:35:28 AM EST
    piece, and Marty Lederman's and Goldsmith's responses, I think you'll understand better the game that is afoot here.

    It's tempting to think this is ineptitude, when in reality, it's more like an arrogant belief in their own diabolical brilliance.  Goldsmith and Lederman point out that Congress can violate international law - so get Congress to okay military action and the immediate problem of the UN charter goes away like the pesky gnat it seems to be regarded as.  But don't tell the American people that - no, better to let them feel like they matter, finally, right?

    I just can't decide if we're the toilet paper or the toilet in this scenario, but I'm pretty sure there's a lot of sh!t involved.


    Don't think Congress passing an AUMF (none / 0) (#39)
    by bmaz on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 12:58:02 PM EST
    Obviates the UN Charter provision. It may give Obama more domestic cover in violating it, but doesn't obviate it.

    I was simply going by this, from (none / 0) (#59)
    by Anne on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 05:00:25 PM EST
    the Lawfare link posted earlier:

    (As Marty says, the congressional approval for use of force sought by the President, if it comes through, will render this constitutional implication moot, for it is settled that Congress can violate international law.  Marty thinks this is an important reason to go to Congress, and he is right.

    It doesn't obviate it as much as it becomes something to check off on a list.


    Question not asked of you... (none / 0) (#72)
    by bmaz on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 07:06:01 PM EST
    ...but rather my friend BTD. I do get confused by the comment stream system here - it flat baffles me sometimes (but not that often). It looked like BTD was saying I had it wrong. Which is more than possible - the international law is not always my strong suit - but I wanted to know how and why in light of the posited cites.

    I 3 rated you (none / 0) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:27:24 AM EST
    Which my saying I agree and disagree.

    I thought your language about Obama over the top.

    My 2 cents.


    Great to see you back BTD (none / 0) (#18)
    by Visteo1 on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 10:24:47 AM EST
    with posts that are nailing the Syrian crisis talking points.  Wish I had time to read all the comments on the previous posts.

    Never before have we been in a place that we can reach World consensus in a situation, like we could in Syria.

    Our goals should be simple:

    1. Destruction of the chemical weapons in Syria (If this requires WORLD posturing to overthrow Assad or a World attack on Assad, fine).

    2. A WORLD negotiated cease-fire in Syria (If this requires a divided Syria and WORLD strikes on those who would violate that cease-fire, also fine).

    WORLD coalition NOW.

    Exactly what magic dust are (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by MO Blue on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 12:40:18 PM EST
    you going to use to destroy the chemical weapons in Syria or force several entities (known & unknown) into a cease fire?

    All sarcasm aside, exactly what specific steps do you recommend taking to destroy the chemical weapons in Syria. What if the world decides that they don't want to join this world army? Are you in favor of the U.S. taking invading by themselves? Details please - not pie in the sky broad objectives.  



    Even the EU won't support (none / 0) (#63)
    by MO Blue on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 05:27:35 PM EST
    this rush to military action by the U.S.

    ...even the European Union -- which condemned the deadly recent chemical weapons attack in Bashar Assad's country but declared it too soon for military action. link

    Sorry, little time lately. (none / 0) (#110)
    by Visteo1 on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 02:03:04 AM EST
    Chalk it up to my naivety, but it seems the US is in a position to lead UN negotiations on the syrian crisis.  With the exception of Iran, I think we will find willing partners in negotiations for a cease-fire based on the high number of civilian casualties caused by both sides in the civil war and the potential for this to become a larger regional conflit.  

    I don't see why those backing the war would not cooperate to impose a ceasefire.  The problem is with the boots that are on the ground.  I don't have the details on how to get the Syrians to abandon their resolve in the conflict.  

    For both sides this is a holy war.  Both sides believe it is G*d's will that they will prevail in this conflict.  I find it impossible to see this conflict from a Syrian's point of view.  Every soldier believes that they will die a martyr for their cause.  Their belief system denies that there are collateral victims.  It is all part of G*d's will.  Assad's forces will follow his orders as G*d's appointed leader.  The problem is with the opposition factions.  How do you get all factions to agree to a ceasefire?  This is the problem IMO.

    As far as destroying chemical weapons, it would be Assad destroying weapons with UN observers.  Again, I don't have details...pesky little things, but there are strategists that should be looking at this.  What pressure needs to be applied to Assad to get him to cooperate?  It may require that Assad perceives a choice of defeat or compliance with world demands.

    I don't believe the US should go this alone or as some Western coalition.  We will only be angering or making enemies in the region...no matter who we back.  If we are involved, it should be UN sanctioned.  Wait for the UN evidence to be presented, I believe it will point to the source of the chemical attack.  Russia will not veto a security council resolution based on UN evidence and member surveillance. I hope to have an opportunity to be proven wrong.


    Great Frontline show (none / 0) (#111)
    by Visteo1 on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 02:30:59 AM EST
    If you have not seen it, it is worth a look.

    Syria Behind the Lines


    Heh. (none / 0) (#19)
    by Edger on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 10:28:43 AM EST
    Thanks, I needed a good laugh this morning. Heh. Heh heh.

    ... from your sanctuary north of the border, in lockstep with World Net Daily.

    what if the world is perfectly (none / 0) (#20)
    by TeresaInPa on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 10:52:11 AM EST
    content to sit on it's fat a$$, knowing that America will do something in any case?  

    That is the message the US should (5.00 / 1) (#120)
    by Visteo1 on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 11:29:11 AM EST
    be sending.  The US is going to sit on ITS fat a$$, until its actions are supported by those with the largest stake in the conflict.  Those are the countries in that region of the world, not France or the UK or Germany.  We cannot ignore the regional input, except Iran and those groups in the actual fight.  

    The world has an interest.  It may not be directly in Syria, but in the potential for the conflict to spill into other countries.  


    And a new ALA comic on-topic (none / 0) (#6)
    by Dadler on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:11:17 AM EST
    Syrian Rebels not nice (none / 0) (#21)
    by Slado on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 10:57:06 AM EST
    From the NYT's

    I don't need anymore reason to stay the hell out.  No matter who wins we aren't going to like them so let the chips fall where they may.   it's too bad that these people want to kill eachother with gas, guns and bombs but we can't stop it so we shouldn't try.

    Can't stop it? (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Edger on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 11:00:56 AM EST
    Susan Rice: (none / 0) (#49)
    by oculus on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 04:18:31 PM EST

    Power (5.00 / 3) (#88)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:07:44 PM EST
    Geezus it appears the last diplomats have left the governemnt.

    Samantha Power (5.00 / 5) (#108)
    by bmaz on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 12:32:51 AM EST
    So, Obama is sending his UN Ambassador Power to...

    the supposed "liberal" bastion Center for American Progress...

    to advocate for violating the UN Charter.

    What are you doing when your UN Ambassador is out politically shilling for war of aggression in violation of the Charter of the organization she is Ambassador to?

    This is just getting nuts. Also, I am not sure about what part of "international law" some of the commenters can't grasp. If you just want to take a dump on the law, have the guts to say that; some of the rationalizations and rhetoric are just crazy.


    Admittedly, I'm unsure of what to do. (none / 0) (#61)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 05:12:41 PM EST
    For reasons stated yesterday, I've no doubt at all in my mind that the Assad regime ordered that August 21 sarin attack on Ghouta, and I believe that constitutes an international war crime deserving of some sort of serious and credible response, one which may or may not ultimately require the use of military force.

    But quite honestly, I remain totally unconvinced regarding the presumed effectiveness of the Obama administration's proposed punitive military attack against Damascus, the ostensive purpose of which is to degrade the Syrian government's capacity to deploy and use chemical weapons in the future.

    Pursuing a course of coercive military action simply for its own sake, without first identifying a clear and rationale objective for said undertaking, is the sort of classic bullheaded policy which can only increase one's risk of quagmire. I think most of us out here in America's political hinterlands can both see and sense that, regardless of whatever side of the aisle our political orientations and preferences may lay.

    And while I'll give the Obama administration some credit for taking the case to Congress, the American people's past collective experience with the 2003 Iraq AUMF resolution is probably the primary reason why the prospects for congressional authorization of the currently proposed Syria AUMF are perhaps marginal at best.

    Granted, this is a gnarly political and diplomatic situation in which most all available choices fall into the categories of "Bad" and "Worse," and I really don't envy the president right now. But that said, I bet I could make an eminently logical case for resurrecting a modern-day Ottoman Empire by ceding the entire phuquin' region back to Turkey, and get more public buy-in for that crackpot proposal than what's presently being offered for public consumption by the Obama administration.

    If the ultimate -- but heretofore unspoken -- goal of this proposed undertaking is to seek and secure regime change in Damascus, then let's please be forthright with the American people and just say so upfront, and then be prepared to offer a compelling reason why that might ultimately prove better for everyone involved than the presently deteriorating status quo.

    And if that's the decision, then let's be wide-eyed and fully cognizant of the fact that imposing regime change is often an inherently messy business, and that we should further be prepared to stay the course and try to craft at least a palatable outcome.

    But regardless of what ultimately plays out in Washington over the next week or so, I believe that per their own actions and decisions, the Assad family has probably chosen the same path once trod by the Bourbons, Romanovs and the Ceausescus.

    If Congress's forthcoming decision in this matter is to deny the administration's request, with the result being that the West sits on the sidelines while the ongoing tragedy in Syria is allowed to play out in full, then I see three things happening, in this order:

    • The Assad regime's eroding position can only become more desperate;
    • The opposition will only become more radicalized with every escalating attempt by the Syrian government to forestall the inevitable; and
    • Whatever emerges from the carnage in Syria will probably not be to our liking.


    Unfortunately (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by sj on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 05:16:14 PM EST
    I see those results whether or not we act.
    * The Assad regime's eroding position can only become more desperate;

    • The opposition will only become more radicalized with every escalating attempt by the Syrian government to forestall the inevitable; and

    • Whatever emerges from the carnage in Syria will probably not be to our liking.

    Maybe. Maybe not. (none / 0) (#79)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 07:42:18 PM EST
    If we choose not to act, we become captive to events, and it becomes the default position.

    Regardless, I'd like to believe that there has to be some way for us to influence events and find some way to get the Assad family to give up power in Damascus, and I'm not at all convinced that the solution needs to be a military one.



    I agree with this (none / 0) (#92)
    by sj on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:17:43 PM EST
    I'd like to believe that there has to be some way for us to influence events...
    My issue is the direct, one-step path from their action to "our" military action. And the immediate waving of the big stick. The "walk softly" part seems to have fallen along the wayside along with treaty compliance.

    And here I have to shake my head at myself. Every treaty the US ever made with the Native Americans was broken by the US. Why should an international treaty be any different, I suppose.

    And yet, I still expect us to do better.


    That offer was made 1.5 years ago (none / 0) (#95)
    by Politalkix on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:31:43 PM EST

    Dictators never believe that they will get ousted or people hate them. Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gadaffi also rejected asylum offers before meeting their respective fates.


    More on the asylum offer that was made (none / 0) (#96)
    by Politalkix on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:41:27 PM EST
    Military strikes were never our first option (none / 0) (#98)
    by Politalkix on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:53:42 PM EST

    Military strikes was never our initial reaction. The USA and many other countries repeatedly offered Assad encouragement to step down gracefully before things came to such a pass. Russia and China opposed it.


    It seems that everyone (5.00 / 3) (#102)
    by MO Blue on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 10:13:05 PM EST
    remains totally focused on their take of the landscape as it exists right NOW. As in as it is NOW is how it will be forevermore.

    No one knows what the landscape will look like once the United Nations chemical weapons investigators present their findings. From what I've read, this has been a major stumbling block - the U.S. refusing to support the U.N. investigation and demanding military action prior to the completion of the investigation.

    People want to say that this is not Iraq. That may be true but this wanting to rush to military action and discounting the U.N. investigation is exactly like Iraq and the ramifications of that faulty decision is still very visible in current day Iraq for all to see.


    If we were rushing into military action (none / 0) (#106)
    by CoralGables on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 11:10:08 PM EST
    it would have happened last Friday night.

    Glad to see that you developed one (5.00 / 3) (#109)
    by MO Blue on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 12:54:08 AM EST
    opinion about this issue rather than leave everything to the discretion of your elected officials.  

    I have a few (5.00 / 1) (#116)
    by CoralGables on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 08:14:14 AM EST
    but mostly worthless unless there comes a day when people vote on every decision, or I have an advisory roll with an elected official. Until then, yes I'm afraid it's up to our elected officials and opinions remain like noses.

    If Only We Had... (5.00 / 2) (#124)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 01:53:04 PM EST
    ...some sort of long distance communication system that all people used daily then we could do our own voting and send our representatives home.  We would need a devise that would communicate with the system, something reliable, instant, and used by nearly everyone.

    Then corporate America would have to argue the merits of the bills they already write instead of making huge 'donations' to the politician's 'keep my job' fund in order to sway their vote.

    Instead of calling a member of congress, we could just vote our damn selves.  No insulator between us and corporate interests would be profound.

    Use IRS records for voter eligibility.  I think most of us, at least on important issues, would love to cast our own votes.  Syria being a prime example.

    If they are reliable enough for the government to use them to keep us safe from terrorists, surely they are reliable enough to send our opinions to Washington along with all that meta data they like so much.  Surely those NSA data collection systems could weed out fraud/stolen phone with ease.

    But then again, if we had any say, the NSA would would be a fraction of it's current self, along with most of the policing agencies who currently have near unlimited budgets.


    You have a few noses, too? (none / 0) (#122)
    by sj on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 12:36:41 PM EST

    Couldn't say a few (5.00 / 3) (#123)
    by CoralGables on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 01:27:41 PM EST
    but having it broken as a teen, looking back at old pics you wouldn't be wrong to say I've had two :)

    Does anyone care about international law? (none / 0) (#74)
    by Politalkix on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 07:16:56 PM EST

    I think the Chinese official just pis*ed on faces of people who think that the Chinese, Russians and other countries are not supporting the United States in enforcing internationl law against war crimes because the USA is in the wrong or has burned bridges with other countries by bypassing the UN in the past. No stooopid, many countries do not care about UN agreements they signed because they are more worried about oil prices. Yes, this is also oil politics and not the kind you think!
    "A senior Chinese official, backing Russia in opposing a U.S.-led military strike in Syria, warned that such action would hurt the global economy.

    It "will definitely have a negative impact on the world economy," said Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao, speaking ahead of the Group of 20 summit here.

    Zhu said estimates from the International Monetary Fund indicate that a military strike would lead to a $10 jump in the price of a barrel of oil, which in turn would cut global economic growth by 0.25%."

    Try reading the post agsain (5.00 / 2) (#86)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:05:50 PM EST
    You did not understand it.

    I understood your post (none / 0) (#113)
    by Politalkix on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 06:30:47 AM EST
    My post does not contradict what you wrote and it was not a reply to your post.

    It implies something that goes to the point (5.00 / 1) (#115)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 07:42:44 AM EST
    of my post - that supporters of strikes DO care about international law.

    Deter and degrade (none / 0) (#99)
    by Politalkix on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 10:01:20 PM EST
    I saw a blurb of Kerry (none / 0) (#100)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 10:03:01 PM EST
    Getting riled up over some offensive Republican questioning.  In that blurb though Kerry claimed that the norm had only been violated twice and that was by Hitler and Saddam.  Not exactly accurate.  Russia violated it and used chemical weapons in Afghanistan.  Saddam used chemical weapons fully supported and aided by the Reagan administration.

    Add to that that news networks ask Donald Rumsfeld to weigh in and he claims this is a crisis of leadership on Obamas part and nobody puts up the photos of Rumsfeld with Saddam during Saddams war with Iran when he was using chemical weapons on Iranians.

    It is all bullshit right now from all directions.  The press is sort of asleep at wheel again too.

    The press isn't asleep... (5.00 / 1) (#104)
    by unitron on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 10:50:04 PM EST
    ...they're trying to figure out whether to get out the pom-poms and pleated skirts or stock up on rotten tomatoes to throw.

    As soon as they figure out which way the public sentiment is going on this, they'll be scurrying to get out in front of it.


    There were many reports (none / 0) (#103)
    by Politalkix on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 10:18:44 PM EST
    of Russia using chemical weapons in Chechnya in the 1990s.