Pelosi begs Democrats for cooperation on Syria, but serious concerns remain

Middle EastUS Politics
Nancy Pelosi (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/ AP)

Nancy Pelosi (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/ AP)

It would seem the White House is having trouble getting all the votes it needs to move forward with a Syria attack. Mondoweiss has received a Dear Colleague letter from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to House Democrats begging for cooperation on new language to narrow down a resolution authorizing an attack. AIPAC allies, like Chris Van Hollen, are trying to narrow the language down to ensure passage, but John Kerry’s testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee did not reassure anyone that the operation will not swiftly escalate.

Here’s the email:

From: Democratic Leader
Sent: Wednesday, September 04, 2013 01:51 PM
Subject: PELOSI — Dear Colleague: Important Week for Discussion on Syria

September 4, 2013

Dear Colleague,

Our continuing discussion on the appropriate response to the Syrian government’s actions is affected by Congress not being in session.  However, this week is an important one in our discussion of what House Members are willing to support.  Yesterday, I asked for input, and I am grateful for those who made your concerns known.

Responses included suggestions to add language to prevent boots on the ground, to tie the authorization more closely to the use of chemical weapons and to address concerns about an open-ended timetable.  Chairman Israel has suggested language along these lines, and Congressmen Chris Van Hollen and Gerry Connolly have also put forward a proposal.

Please offer further suggestions or ideas you may have as to what you can support, so I can convey your concerns to the White House.

The House Democratic leadership joins Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger in encouraging you to read the classified intelligence report, which will be made available every day of the week for your review.  I also appreciate your suggestions and comments regarding the need to educate the American public.  As I have said before, the President needs to continue to make the intelligence case to the American people as to the Assad regime’s responsibility for the attack and why it’s in our national interest to respond to it.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this very important matter for which I am pleased that the President sought congressional authorization.

best regards,

NANCY PELOSI

Democratic Leader

The letter comes as hawkish officials are warning that President Barack Obama may not have the votes to pass the authorization for military force on Syria. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), one of the most pro-Israel members in the House, told the Washington Post that “no one in Congress could vote for” the bill as it stands now and that he doesn’t “know a member of Congress whose e-mails and phone calls are in favor of this.” The bill Obama sent to Congress has been criticized as expansive and could be interpreted as giving authority to attack Iran and Lebanon.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has already made changes to the bill, with the text now stipulating that military strikes would only be authorized for 60 days (with a 30-day extension) and that no ground troops could be used. The changed resolution passed yesterday in the committee by a 10-7 vote. But an amendment pushed by Senator John McCain states that the U.S. should “change the momentum” of the Syrian civil war, seek a democratic government and give arms to flow to vetted opposition groups.

The House, though, has yet to mark up the bill. The majority of House members–169 of them–have indicated they would likely vote no on the bill, according to a Think Progress count. 46 are likely to vote yes, with the rest undecided.

The full Senate and House votes are set for early next week. The Senators backing a strike on Syria will need 60 votes to close debate on the bill, and 51 to pass it in a second vote.

46 Responses

  1. American
    September 4, 2013, 10:59 pm

    ”military strikes would only be authorized for 60 days (with a 30-day extension) ”>>>

    I have listened carefully to Kerry and everyone in this hearing. Kerry has actually given away the whole scheme. His entire presentation has been moral pontifcating, US credibility, the threat to US in the future, taking his word on the secret evidence, trying to evade certain questions and—-DONT LOOK AT THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM—-which is regime change.
    Kerry said under questioning that regime change has been Obama’s position on Syria from the beginning. But then he swears that is not what this is about, that this is about sending a message to Assad and the world on chemical weapons. But then he further admits under questioning that the bombing strikes will degrade Assad’s military capabilities, which means that will help the rebels. But then he says DONT THINK IT’S ABOUT HELPING THE REBELS even though it will help the rebels ovethrow Assad which has been Obama’s position all along.

    A 60 day bombing opportunity is not sending a message. It is regime change.
    They are lying .

    • Hostage
      September 5, 2013, 2:27 am

      A 60 day bombing opportunity is not sending a message. It is regime change.
      They are lying .

      Once again, if custody and use of the stockpiles of Syrian government-controlled unconventional weapons is the real issue, then regime change is the worst possible outcome, i.e. a terror group or individuals linked to “al Qaeda” might obtain at least a portion of them.

      If the weapons fall into the hands of the rebel forces, lawmakers would be ignoring public opposition, setting the stage, and making it impossible to guarantee that some of them won’t end-up in the hands of the very organizations or individuals the US government has placed on the Security Council’s terror blacklist, resolution 2083 (2012).

      • Hostage
        September 5, 2013, 4:52 am

        P.S. The President’s version would have allowed attacks to be conducted worldwide.

        The actual wording of the Senate resolution would allow many types of training, intelligence, or logistical support operations to be conducted on the ground in Syria:

        SECTION 3. LIMITATION. The authority granted in section 2 does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Syria for the purpose of combat operations.

        link to scribd.com

        The Administration has already implied that the Congress can’t veto the President’s option of ordering combat operations for 90 days using his existing Article II constitutional and war powers act authority.

      • American
        September 5, 2013, 10:04 am

        @ Hostage,

        When Assad falls, which I believe is the US goal in this , who would take control of the chemical stores except the rebels—–IF —there are no US or other forces that would go into Syria. What is the US plan for that?….asking a UN team to do it after we ignored the UN? Thats the only plan I can see ‘if’ we are going to go all way thru with chemical weapons ‘reason for this without sending any US ‘boots’ in.

    • Taxi
      September 5, 2013, 2:32 am

      Every single political analyst in the middle east talks about the attack on Syria as having the aim of “regime change”. It seems that Kerry thinks he can fool us, his own people, but it don’t look like he’s fooling the people of the middle east.

      And isn’t practicing “regime change” against international law? Isn’t it counted as a war of aggression? (Hostage, the mic is in your hand).

      • Hostage
        September 5, 2013, 1:26 pm

        And isn’t practicing “regime change” against international law? Isn’t it counted as a war of aggression? (Hostage, the mic is in your hand).

        It’s fascinating to see Secretary Kerry and President Obama talk about the efforts to adopt international prohibitions in the wake of World War I.

        Those efforts included the Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases and the Treaty of Paris for the Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy. The prohibitions entered into effect in 1928 and 1929 respectively. The prohibition against war is part of the body of customary international law reflected in Article 2 of the UN Charter and Articles 8 and 15 of the Rome Statute as amended in 2010.

  2. crone
    September 4, 2013, 11:17 pm

    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to authorize President Obama to use limited force against Syria Wednesday, after adopting amendments from Sen. John McCain designed to “change the military equation on the battlefield.”

    The Senate resolution would limit hostilities to 60 or 90 days, narrow the conflict to Syria’s borders and prohibit U.S. troops on Syrian soil. McCain’s amendments didn’t change that scope, but made clear that the end goal should be “a negotiated settlement that ends the conflict and leads to a democratic government in Syria.”

    The vote was 10-7.

    Y’all rememeber 90-day wonders? Well, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led today by McCain, think we can attack Syria (only), get rid of the intra-fighting, get everybody to the negotiating table and set up a Democratic government in Syria… in 90 days. (And I thought a pre-emptive strike on Iraq was HUBRIS (among others of course)!

  3. DICKERSON3870
    September 4, 2013, 11:18 pm

    RE: “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has already made changes to the bill, with the text now stipulating that military strikes would only be authorized for 60 days (with a 30-day extension) and that no ground troops could be used.” ~ Blumenthal /Kane

    MY QUESTION: What about “advisers”? ? ?

    TAKE ACTION! ! ! TAKE ACTION! ! ! TAKE ACTION! ! !

    ● FROM RootsAction.org: Prevent an Attack on Syria Now
    If you live in the U.S. and want to email Obama, your senators and representative, expressing opposition to an attack on Syria, please click HERE.
    If you reside outside the United States, you can still sign this petition by clicking HERE.

    ● FROM CodePink4Peace.org: Diplomacy and Aid for Syria, Not Military Strikes
    Send a letter to your members of Congress calling for peace not war on Syria! We plea with President Obama and Congress to seek an immediate ceasefire, begin regional peace talks and provide humanitarian aid to the over 2 million refugees fleeing the violence.
    LINK – link to codepink.salsalabs.com

    ● FROM MoveOn.org: Say “No!” to US strikes on Syria!
    TO SIGN PETITION – link to petitions.moveon.org

    • DICKERSON3870
      September 5, 2013, 5:26 pm

      P.S. ● CONGRESSMAN ALAN GRAYSON’S PETITION
      Tell Congress: Don’t Attack Syria
      We have already delayed an attack on Syria, and forced the President to ask Congress for authorization. The next step in preventing war is to get Congress to deny permission for war. Add your name to this petition, and I will deliver it to your Member of Congress. Your voice matters.
      TO SIGN – link to dontattacksyria.com

  4. MRW
    September 4, 2013, 11:20 pm

    “Chairman Israel?”

  5. Joeygee23
    September 4, 2013, 11:40 pm

    “Chairman Israel?” The person or the country? Does it matter?

  6. Kathleen
    September 5, 2013, 12:17 am

    Pelosi who took even the consideration of impeachment for the Bush war criminals “off the table” “a waste of time” “a waste of time” holding the liars in the Bush administration accountable. “A waste of time” for the families who lost fathers, sons, husbands etc in an invasion based on lies. “A waste of time” for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi’s dead, injured, millions displaced. “a waste of time” says a great deal about Pelosi

    • weindeb
      September 5, 2013, 9:05 am

      And she was the one who also said that the single-payer health plan option would not even be on the table, but this preamble to a criminal and fatal act of vast significance is very much on that groaning table.

  7. Taxi
    September 5, 2013, 12:30 am

    Why are we paying the wages of foreign agents with our tax dollars? Shouldn’t israel be paying them to operate on American soil?

    Vote the mother effing bastards out! Enough already!

    • Obsidian
      September 5, 2013, 6:54 am

      @Taxi

      Hezbollah is a foreign agent of Iran.

      When are you going to vote them out?

      • Taxi
        September 5, 2013, 10:00 am

        Obsibooboo,

        Last I checked, neither hizbollah nor Iran are occupying congress. But israel sure as heck is!

        So I’ll repeat: Traitors in congress! Traitors in congress! “Vote the mother effing b******s out!”.

      • Obsidian
        September 5, 2013, 12:47 pm

        @Taxi

        Hezbollah has created a State within a State in your Lebanon, and takes it’s orders directly from the mullahs in Teheran. Hezbollah’s entry into the Syrian fray puts Lebanon at risk.

        Doesn’t any of this bother you?

        BTW. Do ever run into Franklin P. Lamb in Beirut?

      • Eva Smagacz
        September 5, 2013, 2:06 pm

        Obsidian,

        Hezbollah are the reason Lebanon is not occupied like West Bank, and Israel does not suck the water from Litani river “to make the dessert bloom”. The only reason they are in Syria is because they smell danger for Lebanon from foreign paid intervention to destabilise entire area.

      • Taxi
        September 5, 2013, 2:07 pm

        It’s not ‘my’ Lebanon, mister Obsidian, and I’m actually by far more bothered by the israeli invasion of my congress. Does it bother you at all that foreign agents of a racist colonialist country are fleecing your tax dollars and giving orders to your elected representative? Probably not cuz you’re probably a minion taking orders from a foreign racist colony too.

        “BTW. Do ever run into Franklin P. Lamb in Beirut?”
        What a bizzaro question.

  8. Hostage
    September 5, 2013, 2:43 am

    It would seem the White House is having trouble getting all the votes it needs to move forward with a Syria attack.

    In other words, Kahane Chomsky was right! . . . and other factors also play a role in deciding foreign policy questions.

    According to the 5 P.M. Whip List, most lawmakers have not yet caved-in as a result of obvious pressure from AIPAC and the Jewish Lobby: link to thehill.com

    • Obsidian
      September 5, 2013, 4:58 am

      The pressure is coming from the White House.
      If the White House asks AIPAC, late in the game, to help bring in votes, than what’s AIPAC supposed to do?

      • Hostage
        September 5, 2013, 9:07 am

        The pressure is coming from the White House.
        If the White House asks AIPAC, late in the game, to help bring in votes, than what’s AIPAC supposed to do?

        AIPAC and Jewish Lobbying groups have already stated that there won’t be any chance of a US strike on Iranian nuclear facilities if Obama and the Congress can’t support a limited strike on Syria under these circumstances. The Lobby is only supporting Obama and his Arab allies because of that objective. They are not “late in the game” when it comes to pushing for war with the Iranian benefactors of Assad, Hezbollah, and Hamas.

      • Obsidian
        September 5, 2013, 12:58 pm

        @Hostage

        I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said vis-a-vis the Lobby and Iran.

        What I do disagree with is Phil’s false headline, ‘Groundswell on Syria: The people versus AIPAC’.

        Do you agree that it’s, ‘The people versus AIPAC’?
        I don’t believe you agree with that headline, but I don’t see you stepping up.

      • Hostage
        September 5, 2013, 3:03 pm

        Do you agree that it’s, ‘The people versus AIPAC’?

        Surely. The United States is a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which stipulates that:

        Article 20

        1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.

        2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.

        link to www1.umn.edu

        There are 166 other State Parties. So the majority of people are represented by governments that consider AIPAC’s efforts to start a war with Iran, Syria, or anyone else to be illegal.

        See the book length treatment by Dr. Micheal Kearney, in The Prohibition of Propaganda for War in International Law. link to amazon.com

        P.S. I personally do not believe that AIPAC is merely a registered domestic lobbying group staffed by friends and aficionados of Israel. I believe that AIPAC takes instructions from foreign principals, including Israeli Cabinet officials, and serves as a de facto organ or agency on their behalf in its own dealings with the Government of the United States.

        In this case, the majority of Americans surveyed are “against” (Latin versus) AIPAC’s publicly stated positions on launching attacks against Syria and Iran, and there’s no crime in reporting that fact.

      • Obsidian
        September 5, 2013, 4:22 pm

        @Hostage

        So if I publicly state that, “..the 9/11 attacks were the same as Pearl Harbor and now we have to begin a War on Terror”, than I go to jail?

        Is that where you want to go?

      • Hostage
        September 6, 2013, 4:46 am

        So if I publicly state that, “..the 9/11 attacks were the same as Pearl Harbor and now we have to begin a War on Terror”, than I go to jail?

        Is that where you want to go?

        Yes exactly. The civilized world, including many US governments, have been trying to outlaw war for generations now. True threats are not constitutionally protected speech. Incitement to commit murder or genocide has no socially redeeming value. The Congress and Executive branch can adopt treaties, like the UN Charter, the ICCPR, and the Kellogg-Briand Pact to place limits on their own constitutionally delegated powers and practices. See Iraq war illegal, says Annan: The United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has told the BBC the US-led invasion of Iraq was an illegal act that contravened the UN charter. link to news.bbc.co.uk

        In any event, the people who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks died as a result of their actions and are beyond the reach of any such reprisals. Persons suspected of aiding and abetting them should be handled by the criminal justice system and afforded the right to due process, not massacred on the basis of falsified or doubtful “intelligence”.

        Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have died needlessly as a direct result of the criminal “war on terror”. Millions have been turned into homeless exiles. Bush and Blair should both be in jail today for deliberately engaging in hate speech that targeted and incited others to commit violence against Iraqis. Kerry and Obama are doing the very same thing to millions of Syrians today, by aiding and arming foreign insurgents in Syria and promoting the use of force in violation of the UN Charter. Why should that activity be legally sanctioned? Our government helped establish the Nuremberg principles which hold that:
        * “Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.”
        * “The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.”
        * “The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.”

      • Obsidian
        September 6, 2013, 6:24 am

        Fascinating.
        If the Head of State broadcasts war propaganda to 200,000 million people, and I say ‘Remember the Maine’ to my neighbor only, the Head of State and I should receive the same sentence.

        Brrrrr….

      • Hostage
        September 6, 2013, 8:55 am

        Fascinating.
        If the Head of State broadcasts war propaganda to 200,000 million people, and I say ‘Remember the Maine’ to my neighbor only, the Head of State and I should receive the same sentence.

        The only thing that’s fascinating is how far-removed your nonsensical hypotheticals are from reality or what I mentioned in my comments above.

        William Randolph Hearst didn’t just say “Remember the Maine” to his neighbor. He publicly promoted a war of aggression and conquest based upon trumped-up evidence that led directly to US intervention and genocide in the Philippines. I think that sort of thing should be subject to more serious legal consequences than a casual conversational comment between neighbors.

        No one would be taken seriously if they complained that the laws against forging checks or counterfeiting currency hypothetically violated the 1st Amendment or would lead to unfair punishment of innocent forms of expression. Under our constitutional system, the Congress has a monopoly on the war-making franchise and can define any punishment it pleases for individual violations of the law of nations. Nothing would prevent them from adopting token fines plus court costs for ordinary citizens, while imposing hefty fines or prison sentences for media moguls or Heads of State. Prosecutors already have discretion to pursue serious crimes and to drop unwarranted complaints and investigations.

        If the Congress or federal regulators can tell Rupert Murdoch that he can’t own television, radio, and newspapers in the same market that engage in legally protected speech, they can sure as hell tell him that he can’t promote wars in violation of the law of nations.

      • Obsidian
        September 6, 2013, 10:22 am

        @Hostage

        If the letter of the law was followed, Osama bin Laden and his minions would have remained free to commit mayhem under the aegis of the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan.

        No thanks.

      • Hostage
        September 6, 2013, 12:18 pm

        @Hostage

        If the letter of the law was followed, Osama bin Laden and his minions would have remained free to commit mayhem under the aegis of the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan.

        No thanks.

        You’re either very misinformed or dishonest. The government did charge Bin Laden with a number of crimes, but refused to share its evidence with the government of Afghanistan. See Bush rejects Taliban offer to hand Bin Laden over: Taliban demand evidence of Bin Laden’s guilt
        link to theguardian.com

        In addition, the US government made no attempt to work within the framework of the law to obtain custody of Bin Laden. He wasn’t killed in a war zone or anywhere near a battlefield:

        The United States has formally dropped criminal charges against former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a U.S. military raid in Pakistan last month.

        link to cnn.com

        The US has an extradition treaty with Pakistan. Its unilateral decision to conduct a raid on Abbottabad was an act of war against Pakistan, not a just a chapter in the so-called “war on terror”:

        TREATIES OF EXTRADITION
        The United States currently has bilateral extradition treaties with
        the following countries:

        Pakistan………………………. Dec. 22, 1931……….. Mar. 9, 1942……….. 47 Stat. 2122

        link to state.gov

        See the report of the Abbottabad Commission on the illegal nature of the US raid: link to aljazeera.com

      • Obsidian
        September 6, 2013, 12:34 pm

        @Hostage

        Yeah. The Taliban initially declined to extradite bin Laden, and only came round to the idea of extraditing bin Laden AFTER the United States began bombing Afghanistan.

        BTW. How do we stop Islamist war propagandists who declare jihad from their mosques and on the internet?

      • Hostage
        September 6, 2013, 1:41 pm

        Yeah. The Taliban initially declined to extradite bin Laden, and only came round to the idea of extraditing bin Laden AFTER the United States began bombing Afghanistan.

        So please explain why Bush Jr wasted the opportunity of supplying our evidence? He might have spared everyone nine more years of war, and thousands of casualties, but didn’t even try.

        BTW. How do we stop Islamist war propagandists who declare jihad from their mosques and on the internet?

        Well only an ignoramus would suggest that jihad is synonymous with war in the first place. When Muslims engage in hate speech or propaganda for war, you could simply handle it the same way Zionist and Jewish groups routinely use the Courts to block access to internet sites and pursue criminal charges against the persons who violate other existing hate speech laws, e.g.
        * French court orders Twitter to ID anti-Semites link to jpost.com
        * Jones v Toben (includes explanatory memorandum) [2002] Federal Court of Australia 1150 (17 September 2002) link to austlii.edu.au
        * The case against Ernst Zuendel pursuant to a complaint under the Canadian Human Rights Act, on the basis of his promoting hatred via the Internet described by Karen R. Mock, National Director of the League for Human Rights of B’nai B’rith Canada, in Countering Anti-Semitism and Hate in Canada Today Legal/Legislative Remedies and Current Realities
        Racism, Anti-Semitism and Hate in Canada. link to nizkor.org

      • Justpassingby
        September 5, 2013, 12:49 pm

        “late in the game” haha are you being told to write these lies by aipac?

  9. Kathleen
    September 5, 2013, 8:24 am

    Phil, Annie,Alex etc. Former Aipac official, spy for Israel, almost had a trial for espionage charges (Obama and Holder let him off the hook) Steve Rosen is over at Foreign Policy banging on the Aipac has stayed so silent about attacking Syria drums. Oh yeah if you did not know Aipac stayed out of the way when it came to Iraq too. Rosen is a pathological liar. Claiming Aipac has been “Pushed on the Syria Band Wagon” Aye yi yi. Rosen belongs in prison for espionage

  10. weindeb
    September 5, 2013, 9:07 am

    Where are you Joe Lieberman now we need you so?

  11. marc b.
    September 5, 2013, 9:56 am

    here is a photoshopped picture from the silly society of creative historical anachronisms. the picture shows Sect. of State Kerry dining with Hitler. such fakery is always good for a laugh.

    link to telegraph.co.uk

    • eljay
      September 5, 2013, 10:38 am

      >> … Sect. of State Kerry dining with Hitler.

      Back in the good ol’ days when Saddam Assad was a bastard, but he was our bastard.

  12. American
    September 5, 2013, 2:08 pm

    Additional info.
    German intellgence doesnt disagree that Assad used the gas..but they documented 14 previous instances of it’s use as a ‘non lethal’ or not fatal mixture to clear areas.
    I guess as somethng like a much stronger form of tear gas. They are saying they believe that this use was a accidential ‘overdose’…a wrong mixture.
    Which would also account for the freaked out phone calls between Assad and his military command as to what hell happened.
    This makes some sense for those of us who were asking why Assad would risk doing the one thing that would bring outside interference…..he was using it but not in lethal doses.

    link to theguardian.com

    • Taxi
      September 5, 2013, 3:58 pm

      American,

      I was discussing the German leak earlier with a retired journalist (he’s 78 and seen it all), tryna figure out the timing and the meaning of the release of the information. He reckons the situation now is so out of control, not at all where American wants it to be: having not made clear contingencies for Mr. Putin’s strutting involvement. He says that there is so very much at stake now, especially for Europe (Tehran closing the Hormuz Straight). He says that what started off as an amateur declaration by Obama (red line), under dubious circumstances became a “limited strike”, to now becoming a serious diplomatic confrontation with Russia that could snap and escalate to the battlefields in Syria.

      All of a sudden, there’s way too much at stake for too many countries – countries that don’t want to even be involved in the attack on Syria, countries like Germany. These high stakes are all economical, not moral or ideological. Mindful here of the economically crippled Greece and Spain; think also of the economically limping UK, France, etc.

      Israel’s self-satisfied “sh*t stirring” aside – considering the colossal devastation on the global economy if the Hormuz was closed and Saudi oil fields are hit (Iran is directly threatening to do this if Syria is hit), and considering that the USA has no intention of going to war with Russia over anything at the moment (can’t afford to), my friend thinks that a high stakes poker game is currently being played, and Obama is looking for a face-saving excuse to leave the poker table. Enter Germany: a leaked German intelligence report that “softens” down the USA’s own report.

      Furthermore, American diplomats have been meeting with Chinese diplomats, with America hoping that China can cool down Russia.

      My friend thinks that Obama is setting it up on the international stage for a sober and pragmatic Germany to hold it back, while a sober and pragmatic China holds back the Russians. Avoiding the possible collapse of western economies over the Syria issue, being the common cause that both the Russians and the Americans can agree on.

      He says that the intensity of the Syria crisis reminds him of Kennedy’s Cuban missile crisis. And he thinks that behind the scenes, sober minds on both sides will eventually prevail.

      I thought his take was interesting.

    • Justpassingby
      September 5, 2013, 4:57 pm

      No he didnt use it, if we want to hear obama/kerry propoganda we know where to go.

  13. marc b.
    September 5, 2013, 3:11 pm

    American, I think it’s British Intelligence that has ‘documented’ 14 previous instances of the use of chemical weapons. Herr Schindler of the BND seems to contradict himself saying both that the Syrians may have miscalculated by using a stronger version of the gas than intended (where it had been previously primarily used to disperse) while also referring to diplomatic intercepts stating that al-Assad ‘lost his nerve’ (whatever that means) and ordered the use of sarin against the rebels. Why Schindler waited until the eve of the G20 summit to disclose this intercept, I couldn’t say.

    • American
      September 5, 2013, 11:51 pm

      ‘Herr Schindler of the BND seems to contradict himself saying both that the Syrians may have miscalculated by using a stronger version of the gas than intended (where it had been previously primarily used to disperse) while also referring to diplomatic intercepts stating that al-Assad ‘lost his nerve’ (whatever that means) and ordered the use of sarin against the rebels’….marc b

      Yes it does sound contradictory, but I think it was a Hezbollah official talking about Assad in that phone call—-I would imagine there was a frenzy of phone calls between all parties after the gas attack—-and before Assad, Hez or anyone knew for sure what or how it happened. So the Hez guy may not have had the full story before that call—-if the full story is that it was an accidental overdose mixture—-he might have thought or assumed Assad got desperate and used a lethal dose.

  14. quercus
    September 5, 2013, 4:59 pm

    A very bright light is Alan Grayson, D-Rep from Florida’s 9th district. He asked excellent questions during the debate and he was on Democracy Now this morning and made an excellent observation which was the Administration refers to Syria as violating international “NORMS’ not “LAW”. This is a very important distinction. Also, does anyone know what the legal implications of Syria not being a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Treaty means? Israel has signed, but not ratified, does that give them legal cover when they used white phosphorus against non-combatants in Gaza? Does it give Syria legal cover?

    If the Administration launches military action against Syria without Congressional approval what recourse does the Congress have in this situation? Can it withhold money to fund the war? Can it began impeachment proceedings?

  15. miriam6
    September 5, 2013, 7:54 pm

    From The Onion:


    Poll: Majority Of Americans Approve Of Sending Congress To Syria

    A majority of U.S. citizens believe congressional leaders in both the House and Senate must be sent to war-torn Syria immediately.

    WASHINGTON—As President Obama continues to push for a plan of limited military intervention in Syria, a new poll of Americans has found that though the nation remains wary over the prospect of becoming involved in another Middle Eastern war, the vast majority of U.S. citizens strongly approve of sending Congress to Syria.

    The New York Times/CBS News poll showed that though just 1 in 4 Americans believe that the United States has a responsibility to intervene in the Syrian conflict, more than 90 per cent of the public is convinced that putting all 535 representatives of the United States Congress on the ground in Syria—including Senate pro tempore Patrick Leahy, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and, in fact, all current members of the House and Senate—is the best course of action at this time.

    “I believe it is in the best interest of the United States, and the global community as a whole, to move forward with the deployment of all U.S. congressional leaders to Syria immediately,” respondent Carol Abare, 50, said in the nationwide telephone survey, echoing the thoughts of an estimated 9 in 10 Americans who said they “strongly support” any plan of action that involves putting the U.S. House and Senate on the ground in the war-torn Middle Eastern state. “With violence intensifying every day, now is absolutely the right moment—the perfect moment, really—for the United States to send our legislators to the region.”

    Cont..

    link to theonion.com

    Congressmen who voted to attack Syria;

    link to twitter.com

    Military advisers advise President Obama to take a look at America’s long and glorious history of bombing campaigns;

    link to theonion.com

  16. Hostage
    September 5, 2013, 7:56 pm

    an excellent observation which was the Administration refers to Syria as violating international “NORMS’ not “LAW”. This is a very important distinction.

    Yes, but it means that Syria is violating “the norms of international law”. Those are customary rules that are considered to be compelling law, “jus cogens”, for which no deviations or exceptions are ever permitted. Some examples are the prohibitions of genocide, slavery, and piracy. There is mutual agreement among state actors that the use of coercion by the United Nations is permitted, when necessary, to enforce compliance with international law norms. link to projectuntitled.com

    Also, does anyone know what the legal implications of Syria not being a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Treaty means?

    There is a legal maxim: “Pacta sunt servanda”, which means agreements must be kept. Parties to conventions have voluntarily agreed to be bound by the terms of their own acceptance, including any reservations. Some treaties, like the Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty, allow the parties to withdraw or renounce their obligations under conventional law. Other treaties like the UN Charter contain supremacy clauses which preempt other agreements in the event of conflicting conventional obligations. But parties to conventions remain unconditionally bound by the norms of customary international law. Article 8(2)b of the Rome Statute establishes the Court’s criminal jurisdiction over violations of either the laws or customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law. link to untreaty.un.org

    Can it withhold money to fund the war? Can it began impeachment proceedings?

    Of course.

  17. American
    September 6, 2013, 12:42 am

    This is interesting post on the Stars and Stripes site. Officials are calling this a ‘routine’ deployment.
    But, but but….if Kerry is so concerned about Syria’s chemical threat to our Natonal Security and people..why was this ‘routine’ deployment of “US people” to Israel, an area that might be affected by a blowback fron our Syria bombing , not re-routed out of harms way? Liars, liars,liars.

    link to stripes.com

    USS San Antonio arrives in Haifa, Israel

    Stars and Stripes Tweet

    Published: September 4, 2013

    The amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio, at sea in July, 2013.
    Sabrina Fine/U.S. Navy file photo

    NAPLES, Italy — The USS San Antonio, an amphibious ship carrying hundreds of Marines, arrived Wednesday in Haifa, Israel, amid regional tensions over possible U.S. military strikes against Syria.
    A Navy press release called the visit routine.
    The ship is part of the Kearsarge amphibious ready group, which left the East Coast in March for a routine deployment to the Middle East and Europe. The group includes two other ships, the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship, and the USS Carter Hall, an amphibious dock landing ship. Amphibious groups are crisis-response forces capable of landing Marines, their vehicles and cargo.
    The Kearsarge and Carter Hall were still in the Middle East as of Sept. 2, according to a Facebook post by Col. Matt St. Clair, commander of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked on the San Antonio, to the unit’s official page.
    St. Clair wrote that the San Antonio’s arrival in the Mediterranean was “pre-planned” and that its operations and training at the time were routine.”

    Now look at the first comment in the comment section under the article:…yes indeed, the Navy remembers Israel.

    day_in_the_sun
    • 10 hours ago • 1 0
    Remember the USS Liberty.

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