I’d say the chances of missile strikes are now less than one in ten. The sudden turn of events has already led the Syrian government to reverse its longstanding policy of denying that it possesses chemical weapons, a situation that would have Monty Python-like possibilities if not for the daily horrors. That move suggests the better possibilities of diplomacy. …
[E]ven if the plan works, Syria will be no closer to the fall of Assad or to his negotiated departure. The killing will go on. Death by gas might be taken off the table, but children and other human beings, by the thousands, will still be pulverized in indiscriminate shelling and burned to death by incendiary devices. There will be more to celebrate in Washington and at the United Nations than in Homs and Aleppo.
In the strange period since August 21st, when the poison gas attacks took place, the White House has seemed incapable of strategic thinking. The State Department seems incapable of coherent communication. Republicans who never raised a question about Iraq are now in full flight from the use of force because they don’t like the Commander-in-Chief. The United Nations can’t bring itself to condemn chemical weapons regardless of who’s using them. Assad’s war crime has turned into Obama’s embarrassment. Everything is upside down; nothing seems to be working as it should.
It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
Maybe he made some good points in the abstract, but it sounds too sculpted, accommodating (e.g. appeal to
‘God’). Basically, this is disingenuous, coming from Putin. Be hard to convince me that he doesn’t believe his ideal Russia is exceptional above all else.
The interesting thing he said was that attacking Syrian targets was “not time sensitive”. This—all of it—seems like a huge political gamble for Pres. Obama, based on the history of this story.
Cue people (neocons) calling Obama weak for not exercising executive authority and instead seeking some semblance of debate and consensus. The questions on my mind: what if Congress doesn’t end up agreeing with him? Can Assad move some ‘targets’ around without them being tracked? Although unlikely, what if he decides to just start unloading chemical weapons like crazy before the Congressional debate?
In contrast to today’s wrenching debate over whether the United States should intervene to stop alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, the United States applied a cold calculus three decades ago to Hussein’s widespread use of chemical weapons against his enemies and his own people. The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted.
It has been previously reported that the United States provided tactical intelligence to Iraq at the same time that officials suspected Hussein would use chemical weapons. But the CIA documents, which sat almost entirely unnoticed in a trove of declassified material at the National Archives in College Park, Md., combined with exclusive interviews with former intelligence officials, reveal new details about the depth of the United States’ knowledge of how and when Iraq employed the deadly agents. They show that senior U.S. officials were being regularly informed about the scale of the nerve gas attacks. They are tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched.
What was John Kerry saying about how evil and universally unacceptable chemical weapons were the other day? Hmmm… anyway, the moral of the story is: any values a country professes to have or uphold are effectively bogus, because they will always go against them if they’re in the way of their perceived self-interests at the time.
A pretty good article with some interesting history tidbits by Fouad Ajami (although I’ll admit I’m not the best judge of this material, but I’ll pass it along anyway). Also, I just heard him in the background on CNN speaking to this topic, and he said something interesting: he wondered aloud rhetorically—why all the manifested anger over such an insignificant, awfully-made film in the Arab world when Bashar al-Assad is slaughtering hundreds of muslims every day in Syria? Where’s the manifest outrage over that? Obviously, he believes the recent outrage is not merely a byproduct of framing by the Western media; rather, it’s real and significant. That to me implies that he doesn’t believe it’s a simple case of media bias that has the media covering the recent protests directed towards the US rather than cover the outrage in the Arab world directed toward Assad’s regime (because it simply doesn’t much exist). However, I’m sure the disdain for Assad is still there; I just don’t know relatively how much remains and what the potency of it is.
In any case, he has some ideas about the recent anger that he speaks about in the article.
A Syrian rebel covers a fellow fighter carrying the body of his brother, killed during a battle in the Saif al-Dawla district of Syria’s northern city of Aleppo, amid heavy street fighting between opposition and government forces on August 29, 2012. Zac Baillie / AFP - Getty Images
I called an old friend the other day, dialing the number somewhat sheepishly. He’s a senior adviser to the Iraq government and I knew what to expect when he answered.
First, he reprimanded me for not calling enough and hardly visiting. I’ve been away too long. You can’t do that, not to your friends. What’s so difficult about calling? he asked.
I apologized, asked about his children, his health, if he’s having success in quitting smoking, and offered the only excuse I could think of: “I’ve been busy with the Arab Spring.”
“The Arab Spring?” he said. “What’s that? There’s no Arab Spring anymore. That’s over. It is now a big struggle for power.”
He may have been acting like an insistent grandmother, but he was right. The Arab Spring is over. The days of the protesters with laptops and BlackBerrys in Tahrir Square are long gone.
Instead, a much bigger struggle is underway, one that goes back centuries that is both a regional battle for dominance and an epic tug of war between Sunnis and Shiites for control of the Middle East and the Prophet Muhammad’s legacy.
The Syrian administration is tyrannical and not just. Turkey will be in solidarity with our brothers in Syria until a new regime is in place…We will offer all the possible support to liberate the Syrians from dictatorship.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the aftermath of a Turkish recon plane being shot down by Syria
If you’re in the bombing mood, how about instead of bombing Iran and more than likely destroying innocent lives and starting a regional inferno, bomb Syria, i.e. Assad’s military assets in particular and save innocent lives? The world and the Syrian people loathe him (well, except China and esp. Russia, and Russia “elected” Putin again and have their own problems…). The Libyan precedent—while not exactly the same—worked out pretty well. I might actually be agreeing with John McCain generally in that regard, but I’m sure McCain is all for attacking Iran as well, so whatever. (I would actually like to see another global framework to act on Syria like the one instituted in Libya, but it doesn’t appear likely, and Syrian civilians are being massacred every day.)
This drumbeat Israel is laying down is nauseating. The US needs to get Israel out of its ear—ally or no—and, quite frankly, stop being such a control freak in the world.