Catching Up on Syria – Open Thread

UPDATED 9/10

The President speaks to the American people tonight about Syria. We have a feeling he’s been busy revising his speech after a couple of fast moving developments. Viewers of any one of SIX different television news programs got a sneak peek of his speech yesterday, as he tried to sell the case to the American people.  In fact, he called the Russian plan to have Syrians hand over chemical arms for international inspection and destruction a “breakthrough“:

“We don’t know whether Syria will agree with this,’ he said, ‘but if the establishment of international control over chemical weapons in the country will prevent attacks, then we will immediately begin work with Damascus. And we will call on the Syrian leadership to not only agree to putting the chemical weapons storage sites under international control but also to their subsequent destruction.”

If Syria does indeed give up its chemical arsenal, destroying the stockpile will be a huge challenge.

Alas, Foreign Policy site The Cable says Russia’s proposal for Syrian weapons will not work — not in the midst of that civil war.

UPDATED 9/6

The President held a press conference today on the Syria crisis, from the G20 summit:

Amy Goodman laments the lack of diplomacy on Syria — and that the G20 summit was a huge missed opportunity for Obama and Putin to work together.

One thing is certain about the President’s decision to pursue AUMF in Syria: He hasn’t been motivated by politics. No matter how the vote goes, this incident isn’t going to help him achieve the rest of the items on his agenda.

BlogHer political editor Grace Hwang Lynch quoted us in her roundup of what women in the blogosphere are saying about Syria. It is worth a read.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved action against Syria on Wednesday. House has yet to vote on the authorization for use of military force (AUMF). Mother Jones has published a running guide to the debate.

 

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Was anyone (other than the usual pundits) paying attention to the President’s speech on Syria over the Labor Day weekend?

We were relieved at his announcement that he would seek Congressional approval for the military strike he is considering to deter the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against its own people. This is the course we hoped he would take when discussing this on last week’s MOMochat podcast, and in the absence of UN authorization (which he is unlikely to get), we feel that this kind of unilateral action without a legal framework would be disastrous – especially in this situation, where it does not appear a missile strike would do anything to stop the violence in Syria, and may even make things worse.

This Washington Post piece did a really good job of explaining how we got to this place over Syria’s two-year-old civil war.

The White House met with Congressional leaders and received bipartisan endorsements from John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, with Mitch McConnell – who is facing a tough re-election challenge from his isolationist right flank –  withholding his approval until he learns more. And today, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Syria.

NPR recounted how the President wound up reversing his position on getting involved in the Syrian conflict.

In the meantime, opinions are being aired from all over the political spectrum.

Former Secretary of State Clinton says she also supports the limited strike.

Before any vote is taken up, we hope all of our representatives will read Middle East expert Juan Cole’s list of eight points to consider before intervening in Syria.

Robert Reich points out that Syria is a distraction from the problems we face here at home.

Huffington-Post RJ Eskow today warned against allowing military action in Syria to splinter progressive unity:

“It would be tragic if the upcoming debate became yet another opportunity for Americans in general, and US progressives in particular, to become more divided. People who are inclined to support military intervention aren’t necessarily tools of the military-industrial complex. Those of us who oppose it, or are asking hard questions, aren’t indifferent to the suffering of the Syrian people.”

And Matt Drudge is so disheartened by his party’s support of the President on this one that he wonders “why anyone would vote Republican?”

For once, Drudge and we agree.

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