Syria Audio Analysis: The Real Story is Not Obama’s Sideshow With US Congress


I had an interesting discussion with BBC Radio this morning about President Obama’s decision to seek authorisaton from Congress for a response to the August 21 chemical weapons attacks by the Assad regime.

Listen to interview from 2:09:19

The interviewer focused on the domestic implications of the President’s decision, e.g., “Does this show Obama as a consensual politician?”. My concern — given that it will be at least two weeks before Congress might give approval for even an airstrike “limited in scope and duration” — was on the significance for the situation inside Syria.

Take-away points:

1. “This isn’t about domestic politics. This is about not only an incident in which 1400 people died in a chemical weapons attack last month but also a conflict in which 80,000 people have died in 2 1/2 years. Having a nice image at home is one thing; doing something effective about a crisis for Syria and the region is another.”

2. “The bigger question is whether you support insurgents, not with airstrikes but with military supplies to overthrow the Assad regime.”

3. “At the end of the day, I think Obama will get Congressional authorization for a fairly weak mandate, whether or not he chooses to use it. I don’t think that’s going to resolve the wider issues. We are probably going to be here three months from now, six months, a year from now still talking about Syria — and President Obama’s steps, and what Congress does about them, in the next two weeks are going to be peripheral.”

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  1. Thanks for this analysis, Scott. I guess Obama just continues his policy of not getting involved in Syria despite supporting the FSA clandestinely.
    The much bigger problem is the Security Council paralysed by Cold War mindset and unable to find a solution for the ongoing slaughter of civilians. Although Russia and China may appear as the winners for the moment they will join the ranks of losers in the end.

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