Aug 30 2013

Going Alone

Barack Obama now faces the fact that if the US bombs Syria it will be totally alone and without allies, except maybe France.

The Arab League has condemned Syria but refuses to call for the use of force.

Turkey has backed out after it was reveled the the primary intelligence alleging the Assad government used Chemical Weapons relies on an Israeli communications intercept of a low ranking officer and a Syrian defector who dubiously ‘claims’ inside contacts in the Assad regime.

The UN Security Council will surely reject a authorization to use force and the UN inspection team has withdrawn after inconclusive results.

And now this-

Cameron forced to rule out British attack on Syria after MPs reject motion

Nicholas Watt and Nick Hopkins, Guardian

Thursday 29 August 2013 18.07 EDT

David Cameron indicated on Thursday evening that Britain would not take part in military action against Syria after the government lost a crucial vote on an already watered-down amendment that was designed to pave the way to intervention in the war-torn country.

In a devastating blow to his authority, the prime minister lost a government motion by 272 votes to 285 – an opposition majority of 13 – after scores of Tory MPs voted with Labour.

Labour claimed that the government ran into trouble when Nick Clegg struggled, in the closing minutes of the debate, to answer concerns on all sides of the house that the government motion would have taken Britain closer to joining a US military operation against the Assad regime in Syria after last week’s chemical weapons attack.

One MP shouted “resign” as the results were read out by the speaker. David Cameron said the government would respect the decision of parliament which means that Britain will not take part in military strikes against Syria.

Asked by Ed Miliband for an assurance that he would not use the royal prerogative to sanction British involvement in the military action, the prime told MPs: “I can give that assurance. Let me say, the House has not voted for either motion tonight. I strongly believe in the need for a tough response to the use of chemical weapons, but I also believe in respecting the will of this House of Commons.

“It is very clear tonight that, while the House has not passed a motion, it is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action.

“I get that and the government will act accordingly.”

The shock result means that Cameron becomes the first British prime minister in decades unable to deliver British troops to a joint military operation with the US. Whitehall sources had said Barack Obama was willing to show some patience for Britain but he would need to launch strikes against Syria before he leaves for the G20 summit in Russia next Tuesday. The New York Times reported on Thursday night that Obama is preparing to act alone at the weekend.

Earlier, the prime minister had tried to make a virtue out of conceding that MPs were to be given a second vote on any military action by saying that he had allowed UN time and giving parliament a major say on the crisis.

Cameron moved to build the case for action by releasing a three-page assessment of the Joint Intelligence Committee which said it was “highly likely” the Assad regime launched the chemical weapons attack. But the document failed to ascribe a motive to the regime for the attack.

Downing Street also released a government summary of the legal advice by the attorney general, Dominic Grieve, which said military action would be lawful “under the doctrine of humanitarian intervention”.

So, they got nothing except “trust us, we know what we’re doing.”

Neither has Obama.  If the intent was to restore his credibility after he drew a bright red line, that mission has already failed.

No one in the Mid-East, indeed no one in Europe, views him as anything but Netanyahu’s lap dog and no amount of bombing will fix that.

Obama administration to press case on Syria but support for strikes wavers

Paul Lewis and Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

Thursday 29 August 2013 15.53 EDT

The UK released an intelligence assessment on Thursday that said it was “highly likely” that the regime of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for a chemical attack that killed hundreds in a Damascus suburb last week.

However, the document contained few specifics, and failure by the US and UK to say with absolute certainty that the attacks were conducted by the Syrian government have prompted challenging questions in Congress and led to signs of growing anxiety among traditional US allies.

It has also prompted comparisons with Iraq in 2003, when the US launched an invasion on the pretext of weapons of mass destructions that were never found. “As it relates to the situation in Iraq, I don’t agree these are similar situations,” deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday.

In a sign of the importance the White House is attaching to support from Capitol Hill, the briefings with “congressional leaders and the chairs and ranking members of national security committees” would be given by the secretary of state John Kerry, and secretary of defence Chuck Hagel.

Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice and director of national intelligence James Clapper will also participate in the briefing.

France has also called for a delay to any military action until the UN inspectors complete their work.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, instructed the 20-strong inspection team in Damascus to leave on Saturday, a day before they had expected to leave. Ban also announced the team would report to him immediately on departure.

Military and foreign policy experts were split over whether the US would forge ahead with cruise missile strikes against Syria. Obama, who has long been reluctant to be engaged militarily in the Middle East, is now considering the prospect of taking military action with less international support than George Bush’s 2003 invasion of in Iraq.

However, Earnest, the White House deputy spokesman, seemed to confirm that was a possibility when he was asked whether the US would “go it alone”.

Earnest repeatedly said it was in US “core national security interests” to enforce international chemical weapons norms. “The president of the United States is elected with the duty to protect the national security interests of America,” he said. “The decisions he makes about our foreign policy is with our national security interests front and centre.”

Analysts said that with the Arab League condemning Syria but not backing military action, and no prospect of a UN security council mandate, reluctance on the part of Britain and France could prove a problem for the US.

Ken Pollack, a former CIA analyst now at the Saban Centre for Middle East Policy, said that with continuing uncertainty over the intelligence picture, and no obvious legal mandate for military action, the US will be desperate to secure more international backing to argue intervention is “legitimate”.

“If the administration can’t even count of the full-throated support of our closest ally, the country that stuck by us even during the worst days of Iraq, that legitimacy is going to be called into question,” he said.

Criminal, or just stupid?

The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, which followed World War II, called the waging of aggressive war “essentially an evil thing…to initiate a war of aggression…is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”- Robert H. Jackson


  1. ek hornbeck
  2. BobbyK

    as well as being Criminally Stupid.

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