In a developing story, Syrian officials have indicated that they will agree to the Russian deal to turn over the locations of their chemical weapon stockpiles, cease production and hand them over to international control. Meanwhile, earlier tonight, President Obama addressed the nation and reaffirmed that he’s keeping the pressure on Assad, but will ask Congress to postpone a vote on military action.
Syria’s Foreign Minister spoke before leaving Russia earlier today, and said that the Syrian government will “fully cooperate” with the Russian initiative that would include Damascus joining the Chemical Weapons Convention and turning over its chemical weapons.
Which is kind of ironic considering it wasn’t until just recently that Syrian officials even admitted to having chemical weapons.
Of course, this is all contingent on President Obama agreeing to stand down from his push for military intervention in Syria. Russian President Putin said, “This will only mean anything if the United States and other nations supporting it tell us that they’re giving up their plan to use force against Syria. You can’t really ask Syria, or any other country, to disarm unilaterally while military action against it is being contemplated.”
Well, he’s partially right.
President Obama can’t “stand down” on his threat of military force until every detail which he’s concerned about is addressed. After all, this is a deal between Syrian and Russian officials—not exactly the most ethical, or credible, individuals.
His continued threat of military action gives the United States leverage to push the Russians and Syrian officials to give up more than they might have previously. Because the facts are, before all of this, there was no Syrian deal to hand over any chemical weapons.
Hell, they hadn’t even admitted to having any. Now suddenly we have a tentative deal that not only hopes to bring about a diplomatic ending to this situation, but also forces Syria to hand over its chemical weapons stockpiles to international authorities.
And with that on the table, President Obama has asked Congress to delay a vote on possible military action against Syria. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Switzerland this week to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to continue dialog as it relates to the situation.
Perhaps this was Obama’s plan all along. Le’t just look at a few facts.
Nothing was being done in Syria, so he calls for military action seeking Congressional approval (something he did not have to do for a short-term military strike). He then doesn’t ask Congress to come back early, showing no sign of urgency on his part — yet he does a ton of television appearances calling for definitive action against the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons.
This then prompts the Russian government to act and strong-arm the Syrian government to not only admit they have chemical weapons, but to potentially hand them over to international authorities.
Was this all just a coincidence? I highly doubt that. Especially when facts have emerged revealing that for over a year, Obama and Putin have been in discussions about Syria’s chemical weapons.
These developments are a sign that we are headed in the right direction, and hopefully diplomacy will win while U.S. military aggression can be averted.
And while President Obama did express hope for this plan, he also reaffirmed his calls for action in his speech to the nation tonight. He stood tough against Assad’s use of chemical weapons and tried to convey to a skeptical public why he believes military action would be necessary. He urged the public to watch the videos of children gasping for air, and some lying lifeless on a cold hospital floor. He touched on the proof that we have that the Assad regime was behind the chemical attack, and asserted that we cannot sit idly by and do nothing — which would only end up emboldening our enemies.
He asked us, “What kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas, and we choose to look the other way?”
And while there’s still uncertainty about this Russian proposed plan, it clearly is the path which most of the world hopes to proceed with. While there has been a push for military action against Syria in some nations, the vast majority of Americans and our allies around the world would rather a diplomatic solution be hammered out as opposed to a military one.
Which would mean that without a troop deployed, missile fired or bomb dropped—President Obama forced the Syrian government to reveal, and hand over, their entire chemical weapons stockpile. And that would truly be a remarkable accomplishment for this president.