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Sunday, 1 September 2013

Obama turns to Congress, but the attack on Syria is only delayed.

US attack on Syria delayed after surprise U-turn from Obama

Obama Syria statement
Obama, accompanied by Joe Biden, said: 'I am confident we can hold the regime accountable

The "Will he, won't he?" antics over the past 10 days descends into the world of farce. Good cop/bad cop routines only work in second rate television soaps and even then are not really credible within the story line. Over the past 24 hours, we have had Kerry banging on about "what we know" (or perhaps that should have been "what we don't know), and throwing in the occasional, not very well concealed threat to shower Syria under a deluge of cruise missiles. Today (Saturday) we see (after a long pause for dramatic effect) Obama emerge from the Whitehouse and stand at the podium in the "Rose Garden", and spend the first part of his contribution to the debate  repeating practically everything that Kerry said yesterday. When he eventually got to the point, he listed "friends" in the countries bordering Syria. First on the list was of course Israel and there is a certain irony in the fact that the last country on the list was Iraq, where the American government is jointly responsible for the killing of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, men women and children.
The President believes that America (Obama) was/is justified in attacking Syrian government targets and military installations to "deter and to degrade their capacity", he also believes that he has the authority to carry out such operations without further agreement from Congress and most importantly without authorisation from the United Nations or sight of the reports from the weapons inspection team.
Then came the "good cop" bit.
However to go the extra mile. he would " authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress". as soon as Congress comes back into session that is, September 9th in fact. He would follow the example of "our closest ally, the United Kingdom" and consult with the peoples representatives, prior to taking action. The result of the Commons vote on this matter is well known.
The question is what happens if (and it is a big if) Congress should vote against action?  There is after all a significant amount of public opinion in America (over 55% against from the latest polls) and Congressmen may feel uneasy in defying their constituents views.
I remain convinced that the United States will attack Syria with or without Congressional approval and in the face of public opinion. Things have moved too far for any other possibility without American humiliation on the world stage. The irony is that they will be militarily supporting Al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations in their fight against the Assad regime.