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On Syria: A return to the UN and a proposed AUMF

With the uncertainty of both Congressional and international support for a military strike against Syria by the U.S., some news on the possibility of returning to the UN:

The United States said on Sunday it did not rule out returning to the U.N. Security Council to secure a Syria resolution once U.N. inspectors complete a report on a chemical weapons attack, but indicated Arab countries were seeking a tough response. [...] French President Francois Hollande, increasingly under pressure at home and among European partners to seek a U.N. mandate before any military intervention in Syria, on Saturday suggested he could seek a resolution at the U.N. Security Council despite previous Russian and Chinese vetoes.

French officials say a draft resolution presented jointly by Britain and France at the end of August was not even read by Russia and China, let alone discussed. U.N. inspectors are likely to hand in their report later this week roughly at the same time as the U.S. Congress votes on whether to allow limited strikes on Syria.

"On President Hollande's comments with respect to the U.N., the president (Obama), and all of us, are listening carefully to all of our friends," Kerry said. "No decision has been made by the president." After the news conference, a U.S. official said Washington was not seeking a vote at the moment. "We have always supported working through the U.N. but have been clear there is not a path forward there and we are not currently considering proposing another vote," said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

More on the flip

I think it would be wise to return to the UN and seek Security Council condemnation to chemical attacks in Syria, a determination of the party responsible, an inspection regime and, if Syria fails to comply, the authorization to use military force to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons n the Syrian theater.

An example of the approach can be found in the UN resolutions in the 1990 Gulf War period which culminated in Resolution 678, which authorized the use of force against Iraq.

A parallel track can be pursued in the Congress. An example of the AUMF that might garner support would be the 1991 Authorization to Use Military Force Against Iraq (Desert Storm) which I discussed here. I would propose it along the following lines:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This joint resolution may be cited as the `Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Syria Resolution'.

SEC. 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.(a) AUTHORIZATION- The President is authorized, subject to subsection (b), to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Syria's use of chemical weapons as may occur.

(b) REQUIREMENT FOR DETERMINATION THAT USE OF MILITARY FORCE IS NECESSARY-

Before exercising the authority granted in subsection (a), the President shall make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that--

(1) the United States has used all appropriate diplomatic and other peaceful means to obtain compliance by Syria with the United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Syria's use of chemical weapons; and

(2) that those efforts have not been and would not be successful in obtaining such compliance.

(c) War Powers Resolution Requirements-

(1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

(2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

SEC. 3. REPORTS TO CONGRESS.

At least once every 60 days, the President shall submit to the Congress a summary on the status of efforts to obtain compliance by Iraq with the resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council in response to Iraq's aggression.

With such a resolution, the President is empowered to go to the UN knowing the Congress has granted him authority to act militarily should the UN Security Council so authorize.

Now the retort I will no doubt hear is that Russia and China will never go along. That may well be. But we can find out, and if they do not, and do not in an unreasonable way, the Obama Administration will be able to honestly say they have exhausted all diplomatic channels and present to the American People these facts. This has not happened.

Beyond that, it will strengthen international support for the type of action the Obama Administration contemplates.

In my view, the biggest mistake the Obama Administration has made is instead of sending its diplomats out to rally support against Syria's apparent use of chemical weapons, it has instead sent its diplomats out to rattle sabers. This campaign has been counterproductive n the extreme. The Secretary of State in particular has been stunningly ineffective in his role. If this was the UK, his resignation would be in order. But he serves at the pleasure of the President.

In any event, I suggest a reboot along the lines described here.

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  • Display: Sort:
    I am in total agreement with this: (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by shoephone on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 01:45:55 PM EST
    "Now the retort I will no doubt hear is that Russia and China will never go along. That may well be. But we can find out, and if they do not, and do not in an unreasonable way, the Obama Administration will be able to honestly say they have exhausted all diplomatic channels and present to the American People these facts. This has not happened.

    Beyond that, it will strengthen international support for the type of action the Obama Administration contemplates.

    In my view, the biggest mistake the Obama Administration has made is instead of sending its diplomats out to rally support against Syria's apparent use of chemical weapons, it has instead sent its diplomats out to rattle sabers. This campaign has been counterproductive n the extreme. The Secretary of State in particular has been stunningly ineffective in his role. If this was the UK, his resignation would be in order. But he serves at the pleasure of the President."

    BTD, that's a very reasonable and sensible summary.

    Eh? (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Edger on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 01:52:11 PM EST
    return to the UN and seek Security Council condemnation to chemical attacks in Syria, a determination of the party responsible

    No, no, no. That's crazy. That attack must go forward NOW. Today, preferably. If the party responsible is determined and turns out to be US backed al qaeda rebels it'll be too late to un-attack.

    Wait a minute...

    Interesting article about Syria's (none / 0) (#18)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 03:12:12 PM EST
    acquisition of the stuff chemical weapons:  NYT

    Parent
    David Sanger? (none / 0) (#20)
    by squeaky on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 03:57:32 PM EST
    Spawn of Judy Miller and Michael Gordon..  He was big on Iran's Nukes and call to bombing them.

    Parent
    Perhaps he's seen the light. (none / 0) (#21)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 04:02:45 PM EST
    Not Likely (none / 0) (#23)
    by squeaky on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 04:19:14 PM EST
    The article to which I linkedb (none / 0) (#25)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 04:29:54 PM EST
    appears to be a history, not advocacy for any particular course of action by the U..S.

    Parent
    OK (none / 0) (#33)
    by squeaky on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 05:09:04 PM EST
    He may be your guy, but for me his history has shown him to be a conservative mouthpiece quick to report stories pushed by those interested in mid-east wars.

    Parent
    Is that your take away from (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 05:14:25 PM EST
    this article?

    Parent
    Yes (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by squeaky on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 05:38:16 PM EST
    Syria's top leaders amassed one of the world's largest stockpiles of chemical weapons with help from the Soviet Union and Iran, as well as Western European suppliers and even a handful of American companies, according to American diplomatic cables and declassified intelligence records.

    While countries around the world condemned Syria for adding to its arsenal as most nations were eliminating their own, few challenged the buildup, and some were eager to profit from it.

    "It was frustrating," Juan C. Zarate, a former deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism in the George W. Bush administration, recalled Friday.

    [Except US? justification for going it alone?}

    While investigations by the United Nations into the attack remain incomplete, a group of outside academic experts reported last week that some of the warheads used contained 100 kilograms or more of sarin agent.

    oh a stand alone sentence:

    The Americans were not the only ones concerned.

    But we are the only ones brave and powerful enough to act?

    Sounds like an advert for war... based on??  

    Parent

    Personally oculus (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by CoralGables on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 05:45:10 PM EST
    I found the article informative.

    Parent
    Yes Quite (5.00 / 2) (#44)
    by squeaky on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 05:54:13 PM EST
    And of course, all about how bad Syria is and how wimpy the other countries have been.... not much about the Aug 21st gas attack...

    oh wait there was a small paragraph in all the fear mongering,
    implicating the Syrians:

    a group of outside academic experts reported last week that some of the warheads used contained 100 kilograms or more of sarin agent.

    that was right after this:

    " The same report concluded that Syria most likely possessed 500-kilogram aerial bombs containing sarin -- larger, it appears, than the warheads mounted atop rockets that killed so many in the Ghouta suburbs of Damascus on Aug. 21.

    So it must be the Syrians. Proof sort of..  

    PR for Obama is all this piece is. Handed to the NYT by Kerry?

    Parent

    Informative? (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by squeaky on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 05:59:47 PM EST
    Ditto (none / 0) (#58)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 09:08:58 PM EST
    Well Written Propaganda (none / 0) (#72)
    by squeaky on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 09:42:18 AM EST
    Amazing that the State Department is leaking leaked Wikileaks documents (courtesy David Sanger et al.) to bolster their point..  of course the leaked documents originated from the State Department in the first place, so they could be from sources just as credible as Chalabi.

    Nothing new here but a lot of innuendo coincidentally supporting Obama's case..   basic point of the article is that we should learn from history, albeit a revisionist and cherry picked one designed to dovetail with Obama's current frustration:

    The takeaway:

    History has shown us that in the past wimpy nations did not listen to wisdom (the US) and instead put their own self interests ahead of stopping a madman who now is one of the biggest threats in the world. Are we going to repeat history? Or act and eliminate this grave threat?

    perfect timing for this article, no?

    Parent

    Oy (none / 0) (#74)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 09:58:30 AM EST
    OK (5.00 / 1) (#78)
    by squeaky on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 10:32:07 AM EST
    Lets call it PR instead of propaganda... sounds much more user friendly.

    Parent
    Oy? (none / 0) (#77)
    by squeaky on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 10:30:49 AM EST
    What? you think that just because we have a democratic president and BushCo is now gone, that the NYT and State department have stopped producing propaganda?

    sheesh..

    Parent

    I know who would think that ... (5.00 / 2) (#87)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 04:03:05 PM EST
    people who've been effectively propagandized.

    And who said BushCo is gone?  The fact that their policies are in place would suggest otherwise.

    Parent

    Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Proof (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by Aspidistra on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 02:46:09 PM EST
    ...and so far I have seen none.  Before we go and get involved in another war in the Middle East, at the very least there should be solid evidence backing up the claims that have been made as a justification for the bombing raid.

    In Iraq, where were the weapons of mass destruction located again?  Oh that's right there weren't any.  

    Ask most any right-winger... (5.00 / 3) (#42)
    by unitron on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 05:47:56 PM EST
    "In Iraq, where were the weapons of mass destruction located again?"

    They were secretly moved to Syria.

    Of course if we attack they'll be secretly moved to Iran, no doubt.

    Parent

    Good...I'm buying bananas mañana... (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by fishcamp on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 05:08:22 PM EST


    Ripe? (none / 0) (#43)
    by unitron on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 05:48:47 PM EST
    ...or unripe?

    Parent
    well that is the problem (none / 0) (#50)
    by fishcamp on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 07:09:19 PM EST
    they have to be semi-green at the store so they will be yellow when you get home.  it's crazy how fast they go off.  I have two varieties of bananas in my yard and they are delicious.

    Parent
    Military intervention in Libya (2.75 / 4) (#1)
    by Politalkix on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 01:32:56 PM EST
    was vehemently opposed by the same people on the left spectrum of politics in TL that are now opposing intervention in Syria even after UNSC Resolution 1973 was adopted. The issue for these people for not supporting military intervention has always been a matter of ideology and not international support.

    You must be really deluded to think that people on the right spectrum of politics are waiting for a UNSC mandate to change their minds. These people want to dissolve the UN or atleast the United States from the UN.

    If the House of Reps votes "No", the President and the SoS should just sit back IMO and let Israel exercise its right to self defense. Let Israel launch strikes and let Hezbollah, Syria and Iran respond. The clowns on the conservative spectrum of American politics who are ideologically opposed to what they think is the "Obama-Kerry war" will then trip over themselves to support "Netanyahu's war". Let the middle-east engulf in flames and the price of a barrel of oil shoot through the roof. Let Russia, China and the BRIC nations opposed to military intervention in Syria at this time, come begging to the USA to solve the international crisis that they created themselves!
     

    Huh? "Self-defense"? (5.00 / 6) (#3)
    by shoephone on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 01:41:48 PM EST
    If the House of Reps votes "No", the President and the SoS should just sit back IMO and let Israel exercise its right to self defense. Let Israel launch strikes and let Hezbollah, Syria and Iran respond.

    Has Israel been attacked?
    And instigating a war between Israel, Syria, Hezbollah and Iran is, in your opinion, a good idea?

    Going that route would be sheer insanity, and it's hard to believe it is offered up as a serious option.

    I knew I shouldn't have waded back into the blogs today. And now I'm off to the neighborhood farmer's market to get back near sane people.

    Parent

    No, Isreal has not been attacked (none / 0) (#8)
    by MKS on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 01:49:21 PM EST
    But if I were in Tel Aviv, I would not wait much longer.

    The sight of children gassed to death on your doorstep is close enough.  

    Parent

    Assad is fighting a civil war (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 01:55:33 PM EST
    I think attacking Israel is not at the top of his agenda right now.

    Parent
    You think the Israelis will hold (none / 0) (#11)
    by MKS on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 02:04:32 PM EST
    their fire?

    They bombed Hussein years and years ago based on the mere concern about future nuclear capability.

    If I see Congress vote down a use of force resolution on the use of chemical weapons, and I am Netanyahu, I think I must go it alone--now before Assad looks my way.

    But we will see....if the Mosad tells Netanyahu that Assad is in a box and unlikely to attack, then maybe....

    And, your approach is risk free?

    Parent

    Actually I do (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 02:13:39 PM EST
    I think that is why they are pushing the US so hard to fire.


    Parent
    I think the Israelis are used to dealing (none / 0) (#17)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 03:01:27 PM EST
    With a certain level of stress that obviously would melt Americans :)

    Parent
    Well that's a whole lot of hand waving (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 01:42:19 PM EST
    I do think the silence (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by MKS on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 01:47:53 PM EST
    from the Israelis is deafening.

    I think Israeli action in the event of U.S. inaction is something that would not be surprising.

    Parent

    A serious mischaracterization: (5.00 / 8) (#22)
    by KeysDan on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 04:10:36 PM EST
    "....military intervention in Libya was vehemently opposed by the same people on the left spectrum of TL (I.e, Talk Left) that are now opposing intervention in Syria, even after UNSC 1973 was adopted.  The issue for these people for not supporting military intervention has always been a matter of ideology and not international support."

    As one of "those people" my opinion of Libya, as with Syria, is grounded in the ideology of peace is better than war, if that is at all possible,  as well as the pragmatic and predictive index of likely outcomes.

    Military intervention in the Libyan civil war had the legal fig leaf of UN 1973 (Russia and China abstained) to protect civilians, albeit by use of violence to end the violence.  It seemed to me that this was "Operation Hoodwink,"  with claims to help civilians in Benghazi morphing by happenstance or design into regime change.  

    The mission to protect civilians creeped (or was crept) into an air force for the rebels.   Besides the tragedy of the Ambassador and others at Benghazi, the outcomes are not as rosy as often depicted.  Government authority is disintegrating throughout the country. Political assassinations are rampant; the economy is in crisis--the critical indicia being oil production, of course. (from 1.4 million barrels a day just a few months ago to about 160,000 barrels a day now.  

    In my view, the old Administration approach, of about 10 days ago, to go it alone, Congress not needed (No War Powers Resolution needed in Libya, it was claimed since there were no "hostilities") attempted to deploy the "LIbyan Model".   But, that was not working.  The new and improved approach is to go to Congress, give a full-court press for something--a message, a change in momentum on the ground, deter and degrade something or another.  But, get a pretty all-encompassing authorization for use of military force to protect, once again, the civilians.  

    Parent

    Well that's not true (none / 0) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 02:58:46 PM EST
    I was all about Libya.

    Parent
    Ditto here. (5.00 / 2) (#63)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 02:11:57 AM EST
    I didn't oppose the Libyan intervention. Do I wish the aftermath was handled better, i.e., Benghazi? Absolutely. But I believed at the time that we were right to actively oppose Moammar Khadafy's armed assault on Cyrenaica (eastern Libya), and I still do.

    Regarding the current debate over Syria, I've absolutely no doubt that chemical weapons have been unleashed against civilians by the Assad regime. And for the record, I agree with BTD that all diplomatic options need to be exhausted completely in a good faith effort to resolve this crisis, before we choose to resort to armed force ourselves.

    That said, I see the present debate in stark terms:

    • The deployment and use of chemical weaponry in modern-day armed conflicts is something that's either worth standing resolutely against when it's within our capacity to do so -- or it's not our concern.

    • Similarly, the deliberate targeting and wanton slaughter of unarmed noncombatants in Syria (and elsewhere, too, for that matter) is something that's either worth trying to stop when it's within our capacity to do so -- or it's none of our business.

    Personally, I've yet to hear any convincing aruguments / rebuttals regarding either one or both of those two simple premises from anyone.

    Rather, proponents of a limited military strike on the Assad regime sound for all the world like they have no confidence in their own arguments, while most of the rationalization against intervention that I'm hearing from the opposition smacks increasingly of apathy and isolationism.

    Pidgin-speaking locals out here have a unique adjective for those who are forever emoting about what should've been done in the past, as an excuse for doing nothing in the present -- futless. And in this particular case, that just sounds so right.

    Aloha.

    Parent

    You have no doubt? Based on what? (5.00 / 2) (#66)
    by Anne on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 07:00:00 AM EST
    Because it appears that even our advanced, super-intrusive government isn't sure.

    Reuters:

    With the United States threatening to attack Syria, U.S. and allied intelligence services are still trying to work out who ordered the poison gas attack on rebel-held neighborhoods near Damascus.

    No direct link to President Bashar al-Assad or his inner circle has been publicly demonstrated, and some U.S. sources say intelligence experts are not sure whether the Syrian leader knew of the attack before it was launched or was only informed about it afterward.

    While U.S. officials say Assad is responsible for the chemical weapons strike even if he did not directly order it, they have not been able to fully describe a chain of command for the August 21 attack in the Ghouta area east of the Syrian capital.

    It is one of the biggest gaps in U.S. understanding of the incident, even as Congress debates whether to launch limited strikes on Assad's forces in retaliation.

    From Emptywheel:

    Remember, we've already had anonymous admissions that the intelligence community isn't really sure who controls Assad's CW; nor do they know what happened when rebels took over a location where weapons had been stored.

    [snip]

    And months ago, the government worried a rogue officer might launch Assad's CW.

    So on multiple occasions the intelligence community has raised ways -- rebel capture, non-authorized capture on the Syrian side, or rogue officer -- in which CW might be released against Assad's wishes. Yet their case tying this attack to Assad relies on mere assumptions that none of those things have happened, even while they know the chain of command did not operate as it normally would have.

    [snip]

    In short, the Administration is so sensitive about their case they're unwilling to allow members of Congress check even the open source parts of it, and any means of tying the attack to Assad relies on assumptions and an intercept that seems to undermine their case.

    Which is why the Administration is invoking on a theory it would never apply to itself: that because Assad is Commander in Chief of his military, he must be held accountable for any actions taken by someone in his military, even if done without authorization.

    What I see is that the administration's response to questions, and requests for more information - especially among members of Congress, who are being asked to vote on the issue - are being met with a bigger, more forceful and increasingly more dishonest full-court PR campaign: Obama's making the rounds of the news shows, and tomorrow he will address the nation.  Kerry is flailing his arms and sounding increasingly pissed off that people aren't willing to take him at his word.

    I'm sure the administration appreciates that you have framed the debate exactly as they want you to, but I think your framing is just terminally flawed - not because I think we should close our eyes to the use of chemical weapons, but because I don't think an armed response solves the problem; I think it creates more of them, not least of which is likely to be more death and more killing.

    You are a very intelligent person, so it surprises me that you are so willing to accept what the administration is selling - and they most certainly are selling.  I'm not saying they're wrong, but their increasing emphasis on "you have to trust us" and their inability or unwillingness to fully inform the Congress makes me concerned that there is way more here than meets the eye, and I don't think any of it is going anyplace good.

    Parent

    But, it is just common sense. (5.00 / 2) (#73)
    by KeysDan on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 09:47:24 AM EST
    According to A.P, as carried in the Atlanta Constitution (Sept 9), White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough said during his five-network  public relations blitz Sunday, that the administration lacks "irrefutable , beyond-a-reasonable doubt evidence that the government of Syria is responsible for a chemical weapons attack.

     The assertion was made that a "common-sense test" dictates that Assad is responsible and should be held to account. As to doubt, there was "no question in my mind." he said.  

     On another front, Secretary Kerry when asked about Assad's claim to Charlie Rose that there is no evidence that he used the weapons,  Kerry said "the evidence speaks for itself."  

    And yet on another front, Susan Rice, national security advisor, who drew  fire for her Sunday talk show briefing on the Benghazi attack that killed our Ambassador and others,  will brief Congress on Sept 11, the anniversary of that Libyan tragedy.  If this is there idea of common sense, they bring that bombing indicia into further question.

    Parent

    We do not have any evidence (none / 0) (#69)
    by Jack203 on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 09:18:36 AM EST
    that Assad knew or ordered it...because he probably didn't.  German intelligence released this past w/e backs this up, and it logically makes more sense.  

    But that doesn't absolve his regime from blame.  Even if it was a "rogue" officer or forces loyal to the regime.  The blame starts at the top.  Unreliable officers/forces shouldn't have had access to these weapons to begin with.

    So what do we do after Russia and China stand by Syria a month or so from now?  It sounds like some here are saying Obama should attack after all "diplomatic attempts are exhausted". Or maybe an ultimatum?

    I think Assad knows that hell will reign down on him if his forces do it again, and personally don't think he will.  Tough call.  I don't know.  But I think Obama will give him one last chance as opposed to war.

    Parent

    A chemical attack (none / 0) (#70)
    by MKS on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 09:21:03 AM EST
    on "rebel held neighborhoods...."

    We do not know who controls "Assad's chemical weapons?"  That is the question?  

    It does not matter who in Assad's chain of command ordered the use of chemical weapons.  Assad is responsible for what his troops do.  What an unbelievably high standard of having to prove that Assad himself ordered the use of chemical weapons.

    Your cite contains no information to suggest that anyone other than Assad forces used chemical weapons.....

    Parent

    Futless, futless, futless (1.50 / 2) (#91)
    by Politalkix on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 06:19:54 PM EST
    "Pidgin-speaking locals out here have a unique adjective for those who are forever emoting about what should've been done in the past, as an excuse for doing nothing in the present -- futless. And in this particular case, that just sounds so right."

    Have you ever heard this chronically complaining crowd propose any "humanitarian intervention" on their own for conflicts around the globe where the UN or US should get involved?

    They will only talk about humanitarian intervention after our government proposes military intervention in conflicts that have got particularly dire to complain about the government's motives. Then they will come up with all sorts of conspiracy theories.

    Futless, futless, futless!

    Parent

    Where do the locals use futless? (none / 0) (#92)
    by MKS on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 06:23:58 PM EST
    The Timeline (none / 0) (#2)
    by christinep on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 01:35:10 PM EST
    What amount of time should be allotted the Security Council in which to reach a conclusion following the submission that you envision, BTD? The timeline is significant in view of the disclosed info showing US pursuit of relevant diplomatic channels for over 2 years heretofore.  

    For me, the Heitcamp-Manchin concept of a modest timeframe (in general) may provide a model ... in some way.  I agree that we must take great care to pursue all peaceful avenues for reasons moral and practical.  From a practical standpoint, building pressure in a negotiation situation has to have a serious time constraint ... without such pressure, there is often a delay dance that follows. The delay dance by Russia, together with China, would devastate any UN effectiveness in war & peace matters and should be avoided upfront by a rigid schedule for resolution.

     Moving back to the HM model:  The promise of such a condition subsequent resolution--e.g., agree to a reduction in chemical weaponry, agree to not use in future, agree to monitoring--would allow all parties to say that "they got something."  And, the realpolitik would be a spotlighted pressure to comply <by Assad> via its benefactor, Russia. On the condition subsequent that the agreement was violated, the movement ahead would be more than justified ... as you indicate.  

    It is not possible to overstate the importance of teeth and near-term timeline in any potential agreement.  Without that, diplomacy would be rendered as meaningless as a timid kicking-the-can-down-the-road.  The key is isolating pressure (particularly with Russia's influence involved) to force that agreement or face a harsh consequence.  What we really don't want repeated are the harsh realities that revive the inhumanity of a Dachau.

    Why? (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 01:41:56 PM EST
    Even if 10 years have been spent, why is that relevant to preventing CW attacks going forward?

    Parent
    How much time now for the Security Council (5.00 / 0) (#14)
    by christinep on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 02:51:09 PM EST
    To negotiate?  Calling for a timetable now is relevant to whether members would operate diplomatically & negotiate in good faith.  If, for example, Russia would agree to talk in circles & nothing more, the excursion into that would be chasing the rabbit down the hole.  As for past negotiation time spent, while it is not relevant now, technically speaking, it does clue us in to be very wary of any circular delaying tactics.  A strict timetable for yea-nay to agreement (or demonstrable progress toward agreement) minimizes the downsides of a delay trap.

    Parent
    I don;t see that at all (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 03:35:39 PM EST
    It seems a proposal designed to insure failure of diplomacy.

    Parent
    Effective negotiation (none / 0) (#30)
    by christinep on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 05:06:13 PM EST
    often requires the 11th hour court house steps.  That is what I am talking about, certainly.  In the present circumstances, diplomacy--to be effective--requires some leverage.  What is the leverage, pray tell?  Russia can play nice when they have to ... if it is form and talk, fine; then, say so ... if there are some limits/some timeframes to this "diplomacy" this negotiation, what should they be?

    Many people are looking for something that displays penalty and purpose, something that doesn't have to go immediately to cruise missiles or other targeted bombing ... but, pablum doesn't cut it either ... if the US is to open up to yet further negotiation in the Security Council, what constraints should be built in to minimize mere delaying, non-ending, circular distraction.  That end would really be a travesty for the concept & reality of international justice, as well as for the prospects for future Mideast activity.  

    BTD: Being blunt, I would say that your various analyses in times past about our own domestic interaction illustrate your preference for hard negotiation, for pushing leverage & advantage.  Yet here, it seems as if you eschew strong positioning to set up a potential agreement.  Are you really simply wanting to throw the dispute to the Security Council, bank on hope and turn your attention elsewhere.  Now, I'm not name-calling or being sarcastic or being authoritarian or autocratic.  'Only saying that this around-the-edges approach seems to be an unduly soft form of diplomacy (form diplomacy.) If it is the Iraq Hangover Syndrome, I understand; but, surely you can see the differences.

    Parent

    I just disagree (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 05:19:58 PM EST
    The main reason is the "Deterrence" here is the ongoing negotiation.

    A much more effective Sword of Damocles.

    There is no real endpoint that we wish to achieve in these negotiations, we just want to stop the CW use.

    Parent

    It is true that Russia and China will not go along (none / 0) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 02:57:47 PM EST
    I wouldn't worry about that over much.  One of the many tells for me that spells screw this, NATO isn't going with us.  NATO is not dysfunctional, they share all of our concerns about global norms, and they have not signed on.

    Good point about NATO, MT (none / 0) (#34)
    by christinep on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 05:09:36 PM EST
    What have you heard there?

    Parent
    Divided (none / 0) (#38)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 05:22:49 PM EST
    Rassmussen says something must be done, but NATO is currently divided on what Obama proposes.

    Parent
    Tomahawks flying (none / 0) (#24)
    by Edger on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 04:24:01 PM EST
    off the shelves. Raytheon can't keep up with their own share value and may have to authorize overtime pay at minimum wage for account receivable clerks, the poor buggers. You gotta feel for 'em, although I suppose they could use part-timers to avoid paying benefits.

    Reports that the United States is very near to launching an attack against Syria to punish Damascus for the use of chemical weapons sent Raytheon's stock price to a 52-week high this week.

    Who is Raytheon? The manufacturer of the BGM-109, more commonly known as the Tomahawk missile, the weapon of choice of the Obama administration in any strike against Syria.

    Raytheon stock has surged over the past two months, coinciding with the biggest U.S. military build-up America has mounted since it launched an assault against Libya in 2011.
    [...snip...]
    Raytheon has delivered 252 missiles this fiscal year and 361 last fiscal year. War with Syria means that there would likely be a future increase in orders for the missiles, which can go for about $1 million a pop. In the 2011 U.S. military adventure into Libya, 124 Tomahawk missiles were fired by U.S. and UK ships against Libyan targets. The Libya campaign would give a comparable bar on how many Tomahawk missiles will be used in a Syrian campaign.

    Raytheon CEO William H. Swanson was recorded singing in the shower this morning by the NSA:

    And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
    Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.


    Do you think (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by fishcamp on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 04:39:55 PM EST
    they have Tomahawks on the military black market and did you see that weird Russian ship in the Damascus harbor?  Anybody over there could start it up at any time.  Nobody needs this and it's bad for fishing.

    Parent
    Forget where I read it this morning (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Edger on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 04:46:15 PM EST
    but apparently the Russians have more warships in the Mediterranean than the US does, and have their only aircraft carrier visiting Syria right now. They lease naval facility at the Syrian port of Tartus, their only military facility outside the former Soviet Union, and their only direct access to the Mediterranean.

    Parent
    re nobody needs this... (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by Edger on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 05:18:01 PM EST
    Business Insider:
    Attacking Syria Would Be The Most Unpopular Intervention In The Last 20 Years [CHART] - 36 percent in favor - 51 percent opposed

    Looks like obama's blown his chances in the next election. Not likely anyone will ever vote for him again.

    All he can do now is focus on making piles of money for his friends to guarantee his comfort and Presidential Lie-brary after 2016?

    Parent

    One of those examples (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by CoralGables on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 04:58:22 PM EST
    where a little knowledge doesn't always equal smarts.

    321 different stocks hit 52 week highs during the four day week. That happens when the stock market is having a great year. Raytheon was one of those that reached a 52 week high during the week, but as of Friday Raytheon is off 3% from its high.

    On the other hand, Chiquita Bananas is one of those that actually sits at a 52 week high Friday.

    Parent

    Gotta sell more missles (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Dadler on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 05:24:06 PM EST
    Gotta gin up some more war fever, or no profits will be had. Defense contractors de-facto lobby for military action. They need wars or they don't make money. It's a sort of psychopathic conflict of interest. Hell, Senators who backed the Syria resolution in the Foreign Affairs Committee received on average 83% more defense lobby money than those who voted no. (link) That's no accident. Never is.

    Parent
    Gave proof through the night... (5.00 / 2) (#47)
    by unitron on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 06:54:30 PM EST
    ...of a high price per share...

    T,FTFY

    : - )

    Parent

    Good for business here. (none / 0) (#27)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 04:45:40 PM EST
    Tartus, yes I now remember... (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by fishcamp on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 05:06:25 PM EST
    it's been 27 years since I was in Damascus and it was strange but calm then.  We have several warships in the Eastern Med and didn't the Nimitz and four destroyers just pass through the Suez Canal?  I'm sure that's an expensive tariff.  That entire zone will be polluted for years with all that hardware in the air and on the sea.  It used to be beautiful. The world is too small for these new kinds of war.

    Parent
    Somebody Explain to Me (none / 0) (#46)
    by RickyJim on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 06:21:24 PM EST
    why Russia has ao much less concern about the weapons that Syria and Iran have than does the US.  After all, the chances that those countries will allow them to get into the hands of unhappy Chechnyans or Georgians seems much higher than that they will somehow make their way to terrorists inside the US.

    Good question... (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by unitron on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 06:55:44 PM EST
    ...for which I'm about one good answer short of having a good answer, but it certainly bears thinking about.

    Parent
    Iran and Syria (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by Politalkix on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 07:07:28 PM EST
    are allies of Russia and enemies of Israel. Israel is one of our strongest allies. Why would Iran and Syria give chemical weapons to Chechnyans and Georgians to hurt Russia? There are a lot of incentives however for Iran and Syria to give these weapons to Hezbollah to hurt Israel.

    Russia has used CW against Chechnyans. Russian military officers have trained Assad's military and are helping in Syria's war strategy. The Assad military is using the same playbook regarding chemical weapons that the Russians used against the Chechen rebels.

    I have a feeling that you already knew this and your questions are entirely rhetorical.

    Parent

    Yes, Russia has used chemical (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by KeysDan on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 08:28:53 PM EST
    weapons against Chechnyans--and their own people.  In 2002, 40 to 60 armed Chechens took 850 hostages in the crowded Dubrovka Theater in Moscow and demanded withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya.

    After about three days, Russian forces pumped an unknown chemical agent into the building's ventilation system and raided the theater. Forty of the attackers were killed and 130 hostages died due to the gas.  The Russians would not reveal the nature of the gas even to assist in identifying an appropriate antidote for the chemical agent or  for the proper treatment.

    The opiate antidote,  Naloxone, was used to treat victims, suggesting that the poison gas was weaponized fentyl--although the exact chemical substance remains a state secret.   The UK thought the use of the poison gas OK, as did President  Bush, who blamed it all on the "terrorists."    Perhaps we should have sent a missile message to Moscow.  

    Parent

    Is it the translation of the tone from the page (2.00 / 1) (#59)
    by christinep on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 10:23:29 PM EST
    or are you minimizing and unusually downplaying the use of chemical weapons in this set of comments, KeysDan?  I realize that people can and do stress or deemphasize facts, as the case may be, to fit a debate and all that ... is that the case here?  I hope not, because it is a bit sterile to stand back from the reality around us in order to argue a point.  BTW, it would be more than difficult to make an argument in this international crisis that portrays Russia as "good guy" ... you are not that gullible.

    Parent
    It seems that your (5.00 / 4) (#75)
    by KeysDan on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 10:13:25 AM EST
    "translation" hit your thumb with the hammer rather than the nail.  But, I do appreciate your expression of confidence in that I am not "that gullible,"  although that is not entirely true.  I have, in the past, thought that your opinions, framed as questions, were sincere.

    Parent
    I am quite sincere. (none / 0) (#81)
    by christinep on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 11:57:33 AM EST
    I have never minimized Russia's role--particularly Putin--in every form of skullduggery. I also know that strong, strong pressure on Putin is the way to have any potential for progress (maybe.)  And, my hair gets aflame when an equivalence game is played here suggesting that there might be little, if any, difference between the methods of Putin and our country ... even when I have significant differences, at times, with methods used by some in our government (e.g., CIA and NSA), a sense of proportion, history, and fact-checking comparison is more significant imo.  (Just as an aside: Moscow's treatment of the "Stans" & Chechnya has a bloody history, dating at least back to Stenka Razin.)

    Parent
    You might want to learn more (4.00 / 3) (#93)
    by sj on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 07:41:16 PM EST
    And, my hair gets aflame when an equivalence game is played here suggesting that there might be little, if any, difference between the methods of Putin and our country ... a sense of proportion, history, and fact-checking comparison is more significant imo.  (Just as an aside: Moscow's treatment of the "Stans" & Chechnya has a bloody history, dating at least back to Stenka Razin.))

    If you truly care about "proportion, history, and fact-checking", start by reading about the Trail of Tears and then go from there. I honestly can't believe you said that. From this I infer that you must live in a very white world.

    As one who identifies brown, this comment borders on the ridiculous, "spoken" by the willfully blind. Our history isn't all "Founding Fathers" and "Democracy". Our feet have just as much clay as the Russians.

    It's interesting, though, that you still talk about "Russia" as if the Cold War was still officially on.

    Parent

    sj, do you truly believe (3.00 / 2) (#96)
    by MKS on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 12:34:17 PM EST
    there is no difference between us and the Russians?

    We have had terrible events in our history.  But as bad as Stalin?

    Trail of Tears, and Sand Creek, and more.  There is a reason there is no Comanche Reservation in Texas, or anywhere else I am aware of.  And U.S. support of the Guatemalan Army during the 1980s.

    And, yet, the same as the Russians?

    Parent

    On the other hand, this country's only produced (5.00 / 1) (#97)
    by jondee on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 02:23:40 PM EST
    at best, shoddy facsimiles of Tolstoy, Dostoyevky, Gogol, Chekov, Turgenev, Stravinsky, Mussorgsky, Najinsky, Berdyaev..

    The future Stalins of the world are never going to be averted by people deeply inspired by the idea of "embracing globalization", reading Milton Friedman, and hitting the 100k an hour speaker circuit..

    Parent

    We have Cormac McCarthy (none / 0) (#101)
    by MKS on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 05:04:59 PM EST
    And Spiderman:The Musical (none / 0) (#106)
    by jondee on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 08:48:03 PM EST
    Not a fan? (none / 0) (#107)
    by MKS on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 08:56:19 PM EST
    Too bad....

    Parent
    My loss, I know.. (none / 0) (#108)
    by jondee on Wed Sep 11, 2013 at 04:18:04 PM EST
    And I don't know (5.00 / 3) (#99)
    by sj on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 03:28:15 PM EST
    why I put so much time into a dead thread. I doubt that a) you (or anyone) will read it, and 2) this will probably sound like Charlie Brown's teacher to you.

    Except that I do happen to think it's important.

    Parent

    I read it (3.25 / 4) (#102)
    by MKS on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 05:12:36 PM EST
    I have lived in a despotic country during severe human rights abuses....So, I can do without your self-righteous condescension here.

    Short version of what you say:  Jackson was really bad over 150 years ago, and the NSA abuses here mean our Stalin is just around the corner.

    If you really put the United States in the same boat as Stalin's Russia, you do not see reality clearly.

    Parent

    Lordy (5.00 / 2) (#105)
    by sj on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 06:43:28 PM EST
    Back to the patronizing without showing Any. Understanding. Whatsoever.

    Seriously, just follow your usual pattern of downrating me and then go away and bully someone else.

    I don't know why I would think your reading comprehension has gotten any better. Your "interpretation" is always overlaid with your pre-misconceptions.

    Your acceptance of anyone's comments are based entirely on your approval of the speaker.  It's sickening, really.

    Try reading for content sometime, and not for rebuttal points. Then again, maybe you really like making people nauseous.

    Parent

    I truly believe (4.50 / 4) (#98)
    by sj on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 03:05:47 PM EST
    that we are all driven first by our human nature, for good or ill, and after that in tune with our culture. Hitler and Stalin were first and foremost human beings. At a cultural (e.g. structure of government) level these single, individual psychopaths (who can be found anywhere) were able to take power that was already centralized and live out their fantasies to crush those they considered lesser.

    But then again, Andrew Jackson was also able to indulge his fantasies of "Indian Removal". So there is that. His sphere of influence was smaller only due to the smaller populations being affected. His belief in the rightness of his ethnic cleansing activities was just the same.

    I personally don't see a great difference in the level of evil inherent in an economy based on slavery than one based on serfdom. It's basically the same evil.

    I agree that it has been difficult structurally for a charismatic psychopath to take personal control of the full resources of the United States. Until now, really. The "checks and balances" of the three branches of government are largely neutered, or in any case severely compromised. Party loyalty in Congress is rewarded while constituent loyalty is not. SC appointees are more political than ever (this could be merely my perception. It it still a Bad Thing).

    We have info-tainment posing as news.

    Worst of all, the full activities of the government have been stamped "Classified" and hidden from everyone who is affected -- which is pretty much everybody. And not just everybody in this country. I mean everybody.

    History is never over. It is just the record of what has transpired as recorded by the victors. And while we have managed to avoid the Charismatic Psychopathic Dear Leader (CPDL) in the past, it doesn't necessarily follow that we are free and clear in the future. Without vigilance we can easily drift into the same folly. That's why I believe every leader should be challenged and made to justify his/her actions. Not pugnaciously, but for transparency's sake.

    Truthfully, I think we are poised on that brink right now -- setting up the circumstances for a CPDL to emerge. So historically the USA has no Stalin or Hitler. And we get all smug about that as if that makes us intrinsically superior. But history is never over. And you can't take the full spectrum of human nature out of the humans.

    For example, I am always amazed at how easily some people can de-humanize other people. I think the person who invented the term "collateral damage" did an evil thing. I don't have illusions that people around the globe are all good and if we just dismantle our armed forces then everyone will be happy and sing Kumbayah. But I do know I believe completely, as RFK did,

    We can perhaps remember, that those who live with us are our brothers; that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek -- as we do -- nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.
    No nation is inherently more good or more evil than another. It's the structure and the safeguards that are in place that permit more or less.  We shouldn't feel so superior to Russia or the USSR. Instead we should be assuring transparency and safeguarding those things that truly do make our structure better.

    Instead we're giving them away for "security's" sake. History is never over. It never pays to believe that one nation is inherently superior to another. By what definitive measure can that be ascertained? It will always be open to intrepretation. We can only be the best that we can be. Comparisons as metric? I don't buy it.

    Parent

    Stalin was less a charismatic (none / 0) (#100)
    by jondee on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 03:40:42 PM EST
    than a hyper-cynical insider-manipulator at the head of a historically unique, "charistmatic" (in the psuedo-religious sense) political-revolutionary movement..

    Revolutionary Leninism was an any-means-justify-the-ends ideology par excellance. And the seige mentality inculcated by the West's response only served to to reinforce the righteous holy martyr psychology of the revolutionaries..

    Paradoxically, according to Nokolai Berdyaev, none of it would've been possible if the Russian people hadn't been a naturally religious people who had been profoundly let down by Christiandom.  

     

    Parent

    Hitler and his party did take over an already (none / 0) (#103)
    by oculus on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 05:13:29 PM EST
    cohesive central government. Munich first.

    Parent
    Yup (none / 0) (#104)
    by sj on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 06:33:52 PM EST
    That's the problem with a unitary executives, classified signing statements, and crony politics (Larry Summers, anyone?). All that infrastructure is in place. Not to mention domestic surveillance capabilities that make Orwell look like an amateur.

    Parent
    Our role in American Indian (none / 0) (#95)
    by christinep on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 12:14:31 PM EST
    poverty and persecution was truly inhuman.  So was our role in the slavery trade & "institution." The cruelty of so many in recent times in separating parents & children over a political immigration battle is a throwback to a different time as well.

    I hear your concerns ... concerns we should all have.  BTW, I am quite familiar with the Trail of Tears.  Are you familiar with Russia's history and culture (oh, and I'm not talking Cold War.) If you want to talk about Russian history, in all of its iterations, I would be happy to oblige ... a great nation with a great people, yet with a very authoritarian culture.  The authoritarian personality of the latest KGB-type culture, my friend, is a lot more notorious than you might be aware or acknowledge.  

    We have made mistakes -- some rotten ones as a country -- but, I have always been heartened by the dedication of the people that eventually gets reflected in genuine, if bit by bit, progress.  

    Parent

    Not just in the Dubrovka theatre (none / 0) (#54)
    by Politalkix on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 08:33:44 PM EST
    The Russians used chemical weapons against the Chechnyans throughout the 1990s and also in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation.

    Parent
    And, used chemical weapons (5.00 / 2) (#55)
    by KeysDan on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 08:43:31 PM EST
    on their own people.  Maybe we should expand the resolution on bombing Syria to include Russia.  But, then, it is probably sufficiently broad to cover any eventuality.  And,  there is no doubt a careerist attorney lurking somewhere in the Administration who will be happy to interpret any resolution as being fitting to any occasion.

    Parent
    I can't understand the tenor (none / 0) (#56)
    by Politalkix on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 08:57:06 PM EST
    of your argument.

    Are you saying that we should turn a blind eye towards the use of chemical weapons everywhere in the world and allow its use to be the new normal because we cannot militarily prevent Russia from using such weapons because of its size and power?

    This kind of logic is as crazy as saying that we should turn a blind eye towards fighting poverty anywhere in the world unless we solve the problem of poverty in a whole country or continent or solve the problem of hunger in our planet.

    We should make use of the limited power we have and keep plugging away to make a difference wherever we can.

    Parent

    Then why not intervene EVERY time... (5.00 / 5) (#60)
    by Dadler on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 11:25:26 PM EST
    ...civilians are murdered, however it occurs? Why would you discriminate against civilians just because they have the misfortune of not being murdered by chemical weapons? Just a devil's advocate point, no snark intended.

    Parent
    Your assumptions are wrong (none / 0) (#89)
    by Politalkix on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 05:43:30 PM EST
    I would not mind intervening EVERY time but all conflicts do not require the full force of the American military (unlike the most problematic ones that split the permanent members of the security council). UN peacekeepers can (if they are supported well by member countries) can do a lot in this regard. However, based on the number of civilians killed or rendered refugees every year it can be said that the UN has been doing a particularly crappy job when it comes to ending conflicts.

    I have always supported providing more funding, material and human resources to the UN for humanitarian action. Based on what I have heard and read, people like Samantha Powers, Susan Rice, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama also have the same view about the role of the UN. They have also supported providing more resources to this organization.

    Republicans in general are very antagonistic towards the UN. They do not share the same view that people like Samantha Powers have regarding getting involved in humanitarian missions around the globe. Your quarrel should be with them.

    Parent

    Because Syria is a Russian ally (5.00 / 3) (#52)
    by Edger on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 08:12:33 PM EST
    as well as hosting their only external military base, Russia isn't after regime change in Syria, and they'd like their energy costs to remain stable and Gazprom's profits to grow.

    ZeroHedge:

    Russia very much prefers the Assad regime for a whole bunch of reasons.  One of those reasons is that Assad is helping to block the flow of natural gas out of the Persian Gulf into Europe, thus ensuring higher profits for Gazprom.

    Now the United States is getting directly involved in the conflict.  If the U.S. is successful in getting rid of the Assad regime, it will be good for either the Saudis or Qatar (and possibly for both), and it will be really bad for Russia.  This is a strategic geopolitical conflict about natural resources, religion and money, and it really has nothing to do with chemical weapons at all.

    It has been common knowledge (link) that Qatar has desperately wanted to construct a natural gas pipeline that will enable it to get natural gas to Europe for a very long time .
    [...snip...]
    the Guardian...

    In 2009 - the same year former French foreign minister Dumas alleges the British began planning operations in Syria - Assad refused to sign a proposed agreement with Qatar that would run a pipeline from the latter's North field, contiguous with Iran's South Pars field, through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey, with a view to supply European markets - albeit crucially bypassing Russia. Assad's rationale was "to protect the interests of [his] Russian ally, which is Europe's top supplier of natural gas."

    Instead, the following year, Assad pursued negotiations for an alternative $10 billion pipeline plan with Iran, across Iraq to Syria, that would also potentially allow Iran to supply gas to Europe from its South Pars field shared with Qatar. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the project was signed in July 2012 - just as Syria's civil war was spreading to Damascus and Aleppo - and earlier this year Iraq signed a framework agreement for construction of the gas pipelines.

    The Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline plan was a "direct slap in the face" to Qatar's plans. No wonder Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, in a failed attempt to bribe Russia to switch sides, told President Vladmir Putin that "whatever regime comes after" Assad, it will be "completely" in Saudi Arabia's hands and will "not sign any agreement allowing any Gulf country to transport its gas across Syria to Europe and compete with Russian gas exports", according to diplomatic sources. When Putin refused, the Prince vowed military action.

    If Qatar is able to get natural gas flowing into Europe, that will be a significant blow to Russia.



    Parent
    "the Prince vowed military action" (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by Edger on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 09:02:21 PM EST
    Hence...
    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.

    more, including video



    Parent
    Yes, I agree, (5.00 / 4) (#61)
    by desertswine on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 11:41:32 PM EST
    this isn't about chemical weapons at all.  And the US govts sudden found concern over the deaths of civilians is hollow and distracting.

    Parent
    Well, the US Govt has "good" reasons (5.00 / 2) (#65)
    by Edger on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 06:19:24 AM EST
    to be making up a simple minded scare story and pretending to be concerned about it, beyond the fact that it works on about 36 percent of people. They are obviously hoping that more people than that will be stupid enough to not see through such a transparent propaganda effort. And they may succeed. Reality is not a big seller.

    There are many reasons why one should oppose the military action against Syria being planned by the Obama administration. But given that the action is being trumpeted as a righteous response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, there is one reason to oppose the U.S. action that carries with it more than the usual amount of painful irony.

    It is difficult to know how to introduce this subject, as it is so dark and evil, and the U.S. population has been lied to for so long about it, that I fear the initial reaction very likely can only be shock and denial. And yet, the crimes to which I am about to refer are quite well documented, and were themselves the focus of a Congressional bill in 2000 directing the National Archives to specially search for and release the relevant documentation. The deaths involved are said to approach half-a-million souls, and the injuries of many are still ongoing.

    Kept "Top Secret" in "Intelligence Channels"

    Here, in summary, are the primary facts. As you read this, remember that the U.S. government not only amnestied those involved in the following war crimes, but paid them for the information they could provide, and in some cases hired them. The decision was made by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the State Department, and possibly the new CIA and the new president, Truman. The idea for the deal was prompted by General Douglas MacArthur, military doctors at Ft. Detrick, and officials in the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service. It was famously decided that all that you are about to read now would be kept as "top secret," not to be released outside "intelligence channels."

    -- US Covered-Up for Decades the Largest Use of Biological & Chemical Weapons in History



    Parent
    Is it possible Kerry thinks it is a positive (none / 0) (#62)
    by oculus on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 12:00:18 AM EST
    for him to tell Congress the Saudi offer "is on the table"?

    Parent
    Life is sweet (none / 0) (#51)
    by MKS on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 07:32:43 PM EST
    DeMarcus yes!

    Iran (none / 0) (#64)
    by Mikado Cat on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 02:24:50 AM EST
    continues to refine its nuclear materials, makes me wonder if this isn't a test to see what the world's reaction may be like when Iran is ready to test.

    Two Different Theories (none / 0) (#67)
    by RickyJim on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 08:34:38 AM EST
    The comments here so far propose two different theories as to why the US and Russia have different points of view about the Syrian chemical weapons situation.

    1. US allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar want to build a gas pipeline to Europe that would go through Syria.  Assad refuses to go along.  This would hurt Russia's Gazprom business.

    2. Israel has been pressuring the US to take out Syria's chemical weapons capability.  Have they, like in 1973, been threatening a "Samson Option" attack involving atomic weapon if the US refuses?

    I hope these issues are discussed in Congress.

    Not really (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by Edger on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 09:10:50 AM EST
    one, the chemical weapons thing, is the excuse, the propaganda campaign, while the other is geopolitical reality, the reason.

    obama, kerry et al would rather have people arguing about the excuse, to keep them from focusing on the reason.

    Parent

    There is no other (none / 0) (#71)
    by MKS on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 09:22:29 AM EST
    reason for attacking Assad.

    We are thinking about the Syrian oilfields?

    Really?  Show me.

    Parent

    Looking for some help... (none / 0) (#76)
    by Visteo1 on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 10:14:55 AM EST
    I have recently met a Jordanian doctor in residency here in Detroit.  I see him nearly daily.  He stated there were 2 million refugees in Jordan.  I told him that would be nearly all refugees, but did not dispute his number.

    Having verified that he is incorrect, how do I tactfully let him know this? (Hoping he does some research and corrects his statement)

    I may just let it pass.

    Russia (none / 0) (#79)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 11:35:51 AM EST
    MOSCOW -- Russia proposed on Monday that Syria hand over its chemical weapons to international control in an attempt to avert a U.S. military attack.

    Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, told reporters that he had conveyed the idea to Syria at talks in Moscow and expected "a quick and, I hope, a positive answer." Syria publicly welcomed the idea, but a senior White House official told NBC News that it was no more than a delay tactic.

    Russia is an ally of Syria, and Russian opposition is one reason the United States is not working through the United Nations to build support for a strike to punish the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons in its civil war.



    LINK

    Not sure how much influence Russia has, but damn wouldn't it be great if Syria actually did it and we walk away without a single bomb being dropped.

    It would make our leaders look like the war craven maniacs they are since they all declared here was no other options.

    Actually you're out of the loop (none / 0) (#80)
    by CoralGables on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 11:41:27 AM EST
    Kerry said this morning that turning them over was the only option. Russia then made their statement asking for Syria to turn them over while Russian and Syrian diplomats were meeting in Moscow. It looks like a joint US & Russia angle has been going on behind the scenes.

    Parent
    I agree with you--this whole thing has a crazy (5.00 / 1) (#83)
    by indy in sc on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 12:25:12 PM EST
    like a fox feel to it.  For reasons stated above by others, Russia has far more reason to be concerned by the situation in Syria as well as potential military action by the U.S. there than they have been trying to let on publicly.  No one could fully understand why the administration would publicly announce pending military airstrikes as though they were imminent and then sit back and wait out what they would have known would be a lengthy congressional debate before taking any action.  This pronouncement gave all the parties time to work out a diplomatic solution while real pressure of a strike loomed (if it was purely diplomatic solutions being discussed, I don't think Russia steps in and encourages Syria to do anything yet).  All of a sudden, Kerry lets slip that turning over the weapons would avoid a strike and everyone has a "face-saving" option.  Russia can step in so as not to appear to be doing nothing in the face of this tragic civil war and "repair" its relationship with the U.S. in the process.  Syria has a way to come back from the ledge without what would clearly have been devastating air strikes and the U.S. can still cling to the rhetoric that it is prepared to intervene militarily where chemical weapons are concerned for Iran and North Korea and others to hear.  It really seems like a win-win--except of course, the war continues and deaths of innocents still occur, just not via chemical weapons.

    Parent
    Good result (none / 0) (#84)
    by MKS on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 12:29:34 PM EST
    Would that be an example of eleventh-dimensional chess?

    I am not so sure that was the intent.  Best not to get too cute when dealing with matters of war and chemical weapons.  Clarity, rather than tricky machinations that can be mis-interpreted, probably better route.

    Parent

    Yep. (none / 0) (#85)
    by indy in sc on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 12:55:29 PM EST
    I agree that brinksmanship does not a foreign policy make, but  sometimes it's necessary and this time it seems to have worked (we'll see).  I do think the administration is/was willing to move forward with the strikes, so I don't think it was completely theater.

    I haven't decided if it's eleventh dimensional chess or something they were backed into given the lukewarm international response so far and adverse U.S. public opinion (I'm guessing it was a little of both).  If it works out, I'll give them credit for it.

    Parent

    While difficult to prove (none / 0) (#82)
    by Jack203 on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 12:13:53 PM EST
    The regime really will turn over all of them (as opposed to majority, half, etc.).

    This is still a great development.

    I'm convinced Assad knows he's dead meat if they are used again against rebels....so he might as well turn them over.  Especially if it's his friends the Russians suggestions.

    Parent

    I'll be curious to see (none / 0) (#88)
    by christinep on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 04:59:05 PM EST
    the incremental steps & enforcement provisions in any agreement hopefully reached on the Syrian issue.  The matter of responsible enforcement parties will be important as well.

    Quite a bit of work to do in getting any agreement still ... but, now we all see the opening.  OTOH, a solid agreement enforcing against the use of CW would bring a sigh of hope for the world's community progress; OTOH, we should not be too surprised that there really has been unseen (read: normal diplomacy) occurring throughout the intensifying conflict.  For now, I'll still hold the breath.

    Parent

    Seems (none / 0) (#86)
    by Mikado Cat on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 01:47:06 PM EST
    Like a win/win for Russia/Syria, and an out at least for the US.

    Takes all the wind out of any kind of strikes on Syria.

    At worst gives Syria potentially months of time to manage the logistics of removal.

    Could include some demand for a ceasefire during removal and inspection.

    Bottom line, Assad isn't going to lose power.

    Quote of the day, today... (none / 0) (#90)
    by Edger on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 05:52:42 PM EST
    You know the empire is crumbling when it can't even start a war of choice...

    --Matt Renner



    Second quote of the day (none / 0) (#94)
    by Edger on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 08:55:13 PM EST
    The USA should bomb Syria with white phosphorous, like we did in Fallujah, to show Assad that using chemical weapons is a crime against humanity.

    --<unnamed>, posted somewhere today