President Obama has clutched at the straw of diplomacy in order to postpone deeply unpopular military intervention in Syria. However the Russian-Syrian so-called diplomatic option for dealing with chemical weapons has a definite whiff of implausibility about it.  

Is the art of negotiation really in play over the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons?


Surely you would have to have been living in a hermetically sealed bubble for the last few decades at least to believe that Syria’s sudden acquiescence over its stockpiles of chemical weapons, let alone its admission to even having them and willingness to join the convention on the prohibition of chemical weapons, means the end of the bloodshed in that beleaguered country.

It seems more likely that it is a move designed to buy time for a number of reasons - Assad has weeks to comply with a UN resolution to surrender his weapons and to sign up to the convention, and, how on earth will the weapons the Syrian regime possesses be located, secured or destroyed in the midst of a violent civil war?

International experts have been quick to point out that destroying chemical weapons, even in ideal circumstances if there is such a thing, is not easy, not quick and not cheap.

Added to that is Assad has to be honest about the quantity and variety he has stashed away.

What is to stop him delivering some, or even most of this stockpile and keeping the rest, you know, just in case?

It is true that the proposal by the Syrians with Russian backing has to be considered for appearances sake if nothing else. 

In that Obama has been given a lifeline of sorts. He has been able to pull back from the brink of military action for which he will be thankful given the increasing objection to it within the US - politicians and voters alike.

Obama claims his threat of force in turn forced the Russians and the Syrians to the negotiation table.

He may well be right, and good on him if that is the case. It is certainly plausible to a degree, and he needs every degree on the foreign policy ladder that he can lay his hands on at the moment.

More plausible is that Russia - the wily Putin in particular - has played this one brilliantly.

The G-20 in St Petersburg was fully under Putin control. He did the lobbying and was able to present Obama as lonely and out of synch with the majority of countries when it came to military strikes against Syria - no matter how precise they may be.

Putin was thereby able to put lie to claims from the West that Russia’s UNSC veto was all that stood between war and peace in Syria...death and life for Syrians. 

US action in Syria in 2013 remains as legally dubious as other incursions into sovereign states throughout US history, and the track record is not compelling.

Yet Obama is still selling US military intervention without American boots on the ground as being in the interest of US security.

It is a stretch to say the least.

His address to Americans in particular, but with the rest of the world watching of course, evoked the horrific possibility of chemical weapons being used against US soldiers in the future if the Assads of this world are not contained now.  

Trouble is the US has itself used chemical weapons against civilians in countries it has invaded, and it stood by without so much as a finger wag at Israel when it dumped white phosphorous on Palestinian children, women and men trapped in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09.

The US and the rest of the world also looked the other way when Saddam Hussein gassed thousands of Iraqi Kurds from 1987 on during the Anfal campaign.

The catalyst for the eventual US-led invasion of Iraq was a manufactured one, the legacy of which thankfully haunts lawmakers world-wide. 

Obama told all that America is not the world’s policeman and that it cannot alleviate all the horrors that are committed around the world.

Yet this admission was delivered by Obama the Drone King who gives every appearance of considering himself the chief of police as he decides who lives and who dies by drone.

Syria is being warned that it will face “serious consequences” if it does not comply with this latest proposal to surrender its chemical weapons.

Serious consequences is UN speak for military intervention, and Obama, along with the French who proposed the draft UNSC resolution have stated the military option is no hypothetical threat should diplomacy fail. 

The next play is between US Secretary of State Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in Geneva later this week. Diplomacy usually entails talks in nice places.

In the meantime the Syrian forces confronting Assad believe this form of diplomacy is nothing but a ruse, a trap so the killing can continue unabated.

It all seems that the 100,000 plus death toll is not quite so bad given it has been achieved through permissible conventional weaponry which makes victims bleed rather than choke and suffocate as they writhe in the pain of death.

Unfortunately for them, and those to follow, the lifeline that matters at the moment is the political one thrown to Obama.  



Comments (2)

by Andrew P Nichols on September 12, 2013
Andrew P Nichols

Obama told all that America is not the world’s policeman and that it cannot alleviate all the horrors that are committed around the world.


Well argued and a better effort than your risible Bashar the Butcher tirade of a few months back. (I guess you took time to educate yourself a bit since then) Obama is a vulgar hypocrite. Now saved from a deserved humiliation by an off the cuff brain switched off concession by Kerry in London that has been siezed on and given legs by Putin who surely will be a worthy candidate for a Nobel Peace Prize if he carries it off.

by Serum on September 12, 2013

Here we see Obama, the Commander-In-Chief, displaying all the attributes of a cynical and inexperienced foreign policy leader (all too obvious from the time of his Cairo speech) needing to be seen, after being prodded by Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, as doing something - anything – even though the initially proposal was no more than an empty gesture and a desperate political knee-jerk reaction. The subsequent twists and turns and ineffectual non-stop talking by those in the White House have shown their ineptitude as political leaders and highlighted the position that they, after having been out maneuvered by those on the other side of the war games fence, are now in. 

 After world leaders acknowledged the chemical attack in Syria, they have now taken the position that the ‘world cannot stand by’. Oh really? So why did they ‘stand by’ while the Copts of Egypt were subjected to  savage pogroms by the Muslim Brotherhood fanatics who Cameron and Obama helped put into power in Egypt.     

 The comment by J.Y. in her article slyly attempting to equate Israel’s use of white phosphorus in Gaza to President Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons in Syria has back fired after the Observer in Britain issued a correction last Sunday pertaining to a previous op-ed piece in the Observer claiming a breach of all international conventions.

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