Crikey Says

Sep 11, 2013

Crikey says: knowing when to go

The ups and downs of Canberra: who are the lobbyists walking tall, and the public servants facing the chop? Crikey names them. The surprise raid on News Corp shares. Walking the diplomatic path in Syria. And in America, the 9/11 legacy, plus a new mayor for New York?

Barack Obama has taken his finger off the button. In a nationally televised address this morning our time, the United States President told Congress to postpone a vote authorising the use of force in Syria "while we pursue this diplomatic path":
"I'm sending Secretary of State John Kerry to met his Russian counterpart on Thursday, and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin. I've spoken to the leaders of two of our closest allies, France and the United Kingdom. And we will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the UN Security Council requiring [Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-]Assad to give up his chemical weapons and to ultimately destroy them under international control. We'll also give UN inspectors the opportunity to report their findings about what happened on August 21st. And we will continue to rally support from allies, from Europe to the Americas, from Asia to the Middle East who agree on the need for action. Meanwhile, I've ordered our military to maintain their current posture, to keep the pressure on Assad and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails."
As Professor Damien Kingsbury writes today, Assad's sudden willingness to put chemical weapon stockpiles under international (read: Russian) supervision has given Obama a way out:
"More than punish Assad, the US wants to preserve its credibility while extricating itself from a situation it has never wanted to be in and that, on balance, it knows will only get worse."
American presidents of all colours have a difficult legacy of acting too quickly (George Bush in Iraq) or too late (Bill Clinton in Bosnia). Obama is walking both sides of the street: today he talked in the same paragraph of the might of the US military ("even a limited strike will send a message to Assad that no other nation can deliver") and the need for cool heads ("I don't think we should remove another dictator with force -- we learned from Iraq that doing so makes us responsible for all that comes next"). The rhetoric is comforting. If not to the suffering Syrian people.

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5 thoughts on “Crikey says: knowing when to go

  1. Ian

    There is nothing humanitarian about any military action America may take in Syria or anywhere else. America’s motives are purely geopolitical as it continues to seek to expand its empire and undermine the sovereignty of Russia, Iran and China.

    America, or its ally, Israel are,in fact not averse to using chemical weapons themselves as demonstrated by the use of depleted uranium in Fallujah, Iraq and white phosphorous by Israel in Gaza.

    I think this whole “red lines on the use of chemical weapons” thing and the subsequent incidences of their use show all the hallmarks of being a false flag set up in order to facilitate the US’s entry into yet another conflict.

  2. zut alors

    The USA is becoming increasingly worse at engaging in, and precipitating, war. Someone should tell them – ASAP.

  3. Ian

    It won’t be Tony Abbott or Kevin Rudd and it will be another 4 years before we get another chance to convince some Australian leader to point out to America the errors of their way.

  4. AR

    The last thing Israel wants is another fundi hellhole on their northern border.

  5. Roni

    I suspect the ‘red line’ was laid down with as much thought as John Kerry’s ‘give up the weapons’ solution. The US, Israel etc had no real interest in Syria settling down to the business of taking their oil reserves, world heritage areas, secular government and other advantages on the journey to successful economic power. Quite the opposite.

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