Sunday, 1 September 2013

Catching up on Syria Coverage (Some Select Clips, Links & Quotations)

Here is a clip from the Rachel Maddow Show, from August 28th:

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Includes clip from an interview with President Obama, in which he states that the evidence suggests that there is no way the opposition forces (i.e. non-Assad) could not have been responsible for the deployment of chemical weapons, due to the delivery methods needed to do so.

From MSNBC’s All In, hosted by Chris Hayes (Aug.29):

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The part of this clip that caught my attention came around the 3:10-mark, in which Marie Harf, White House Deputy Spokesperson, said,

“Iraq and Syria are in no way analogous. We’re not considering analogous responses clearly in any way, so I would really caution people against using both the language that people used in the Iraq intelligence assessment, but also making any kind of intellectual comparisons because they don’t exist.”

I think this is a rather disingenuous statement. I think any intelligent observer can see that the specifics of the two cases are different. What many people are uncomfortable about are the parallels in rhetoric that we are hearing and reading in relation to proposed action and justifications for intervention in Syria. A cynical Washington watcher might wonder why a deputy is making this statement, on perhaps the most important issue in politics this month. Is it an attempt to create distance? Why isn’t Jay Carney making this statement? Perhaps he was too busy addressing twerking...?

And finally, some quotations regarding Prime Minister David Cameron’s Pariliamentary defeat.

From The New York Times (29/8):

“President Obama is prepared to move ahead with a limited military strike on Syria, administration officials said Thursday, despite a stinging rejection of such action by America’s stalwart ally Britain and mounting questions from Congress... The vote was also a setback for Mr. Obama, who, having given up hope of getting United Nations Security Council authorization for the strike, is struggling to assemble a coalition of allies against Syria... But administration officials made clear that the eroding support would not deter Mr. Obama in deciding to go ahead with a strike. Pentagon officials said that the Navy had now moved a fifth destroyer into the eastern Mediterranean Sea.”

New York Times (30/8) joined the hyperbolic commentary (“stunning” defeat of 51-49% against?), which also offering some extra context for how a vote on the UN Security Council might go – it boils down, ultimately, to the usual suspects threatening to veto (a threat they are entirely comfortable acting on):

“The stunning parliamentary defeat on Thursday for Prime Minister David Cameron that led him to rule out British military participation in any strike on Syria reflected British fears of rushing to act against Damascus without certain evidence... The vote, and Mr. Cameron’s pledge to honor it, is a blow to President Obama. Like nearly all presidents since the Vietnam War, he has relied on Britain to be shoulder-to-shoulder with Washington in any serious military or security engagement... But Mr. Obama’s efforts to marshal a unified international front for a short, punitive strike raised concerns about the evidence, reawakening British resentment over false assurances from the American and British governments that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction... The [UK] government had seemed only days from joining the United States and France in cruise-missile strikes on Syrian targets, even though a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing force was out of reach, because of Russia and China.”

The Guardian (30/8) reflected on Cameron’s defeat, and reported the Prime Minister’s reaction:

“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 Guardian (30/8) also reported that,

“Obama’s Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force... Although Britain’s support was not a prerequisite for US action, the Obama administration was left exposed without the backing of its most loyal ally, which has taken part in every major US military offensive in recent years... The US appears to have taken British support for granted. Hours before the vote, the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, Diane Feinstein, expressed confidence that Britain would join any strike... Now that the UK parliament has rejected an attack on Syria, Washington's space for planning one is likely to be constrained, particularly as the Obama administration prepares to release its intelligence tying Assad to the 21 August gas attack.”

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