Saturday, August 31, 2013

What's the rush?

So James Fallows asked the president. Why strike Syria  isolated from almost all sources of potential support, domestic as well as foreign? Why not make the case with more deliberation and build more support, foreign and domestic? Surprise! Obama, who boasted of doing just that in Libya, now appears to be on the same page.

At the risk of pointing out the obvious: his statement this afternoon announcing that he would seek Congressional authorization for a strike was pitched to an international audience as well. He's seeking more than Congressional support. My italics:
Here’s my question for every member of Congress and every member of the global community: What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?

What’s the purpose of the international system that we’ve built if a prohibition on the use of chemical weapons that has been agreed to by the governments of 98 percent of the world’s people and approved overwhelmingly by the Congress of the United States is not enforced?

Make no mistake -- this has implications beyond chemical warfare. If we won’t enforce accountability in the face of this heinous act, what does it say about our resolve to stand up to others who flout fundamental international rules? To governments who would choose to build nuclear arms? To terrorist who would spread biological weapons? To armies who carry out genocide?

We cannot raise our children in a world where we will not follow through on the things we say, the accords we sign, the values that define us.

So just as I will take this case to Congress, I will also deliver this message to the world. While the U.N. investigation has some time to report on its findings, we will insist that an atrocity committed with chemical weapons is not simply investigated, it must be confronted.

I don’t expect every nation to agree with the decision we have made. Privately we’ve heard many expressions of support from our friends. But I will ask those who care about the writ of the international community to stand publicly behind our action.
The U.N. inspectors could add direct evidence to the United States' strong circumstantial, as James Miller points out: the U.S. tracked the launch of missiles apparently carrying chemical weapons from Assad's bases, and the U.N. has taken samples of those missiles. Meanwhile, the Arab League meets tomorrow, and the G-20, next week.

Obama is being mocked on Twitter for not calling Congress into session immediately. But Assad has moved his troops out of military installations and into schools, mosques, etc.  It may not hurt to let him stew a bit -- and let international support jell.

What's the rush?

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