Monday, September 9, 2013
Listen to Russian proposal to remove chemical weapons from Syria...and to Ban Ki Moon's proposal to put them in UN hands
If everyone agrees, and apparently most seem to, that chemical weapons are, in fact stockpiled in Syria under the Assad regime, then why is the world not accepting the proposal of the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, that Assad turn over control of those weapons to an international body like the United Nations, and do it today? Lavrov allegedly made the recommendation to the Syrian Foreign Minister, a suggestion that was immediately rejected by U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry as a "delaying tactic"....for the apparent reason that Kerry believes Assad would never agree to such a proposal.
Not so fast, Mr. Kerry!
You may be able to spout what you know about the facts from the chemical attack. You are unable, and also unqualified. to speak about a hypothesis, especially one that predicts the future behaviour of Assad. If Assad denies he ordered their deployment, and if some of his hawkish generals are behind the attack, as reports in a German publication indicate, and if the U.S. is fully committed to the stated purpose of deter and denigrate Assad's capability to use chemical weapons in the future, then would it not be in the U.S. interests, especially given the high number of AlQaeda sympathizers fighting along side of the rebels in Syria to mount even more pressure on Assad based on the Russian recommendation. They know they have a role to play in unravelling this human, political and sectarian tragedy. They also know that they do not want to be tarred with the brush that says, "Russia supports the use of chemical weapon."
Getting those weapons outside of Syria, especially into the hands of the United Nations would give some confidence to the world that terrorists of whatever stripe would be unable to access them and thereby unable to deploy them.
The Russians allegedly have the ear of Assad and his regime; they do a considerable amount of business albeit mostly in arms sales to Assad; they also have been painted as the obstructionist at the Security Council, along with China, of any proposed international response to the Assad use of chemical weapons.
I listened to two highly respected academics debate the question of whether or not to attack Syria, on NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook this morning. Both arguments sound compelling, reasonable and equally weight, pithy and cogent. As one who favours a negotiated settlement, I was nevertheless, persuaded to the position of the interventionist, and then swayed back to the non-intervention side, where I would still vote if I were a member of the U.S. Congress.
However, the world is now fixated on this issue. If Obama is being criticized by members of Congress for not explaining the U.S. case, he has certainly brought the whole world into the debate, no mean fete in itself. And every hour the dynamic changes; clearly the Russian proposal has been heard in every room that listens around the globe.
At least Obama will have to address the proposal in his nation-wide address tomorrow night, if not in his six network interviews this afternoon.
Thankfully, former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, will weigh in later today, in support of the president, and by so doing will cast a large shadow of doubt on her successor at State, John Kerry. He has so little public credibility, given his "I was in favour of the Iraq war until I was against it!" fiasco in the 2004 presidential campaign against George W. Bush that he is unable to "carry the president's freight" in this public debate over a very serious issue.. If former president Clinton is known as the "Secretary of Explaining Stuff," Hillary will soon become known as the public figure who bailed Obama out of the most serious crisis of his presidency...some irony there...yes?
She marshalls facts, poses arguments and delivers them in a manner which neither the current president, nor her husband can do, when the issue is not electoral politics. She is by far the better lawyer of the two Clintons; she is by far the better states"man" of the three; and she is polishing her already platinum reputation for another run at the White House in 2016.
Her statement on Wednesday could make or break the White House campaign for a military strike.
And if and when it does, Obama will have Hillary to both thank and to repay, through extensive campaigning for her, should she ask for his help in 2016.