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« One pissed-off but cautious president | Main | On Syria, a whole new front »

September 01, 2013


Peter G

And in consequence Obama will get exactly what Cameron got which is immunity from criticism for failing to take unilateral action. No matter what happens in Syria, no matter how horrible it becomes, the onus to do anything then will lie with those who will have to reverse their votes to authorize action. This must necessarily be true whether any contemplated intervention is under the flag of the UN or not. I don't see this as a bad thing. Certainly the UN will be on the spot where it surely deserves to be.


And there are what, only nine days of actual sessions scheduled between now and Oct 1, when a CR and a debt limit increase will be required to keep the government functioning and paying its Congressionally-mandated obligations? So this is the perfect storm. The GOP can sanctimoniously waste as much of this time as possible arguing about authorizing an attack, knowing full well what the outcome will be, and blaming PBO for the delay.

This Middle Eastern red-herring will simply serve to insure that nothing gets done on what needs to be done until the financial crisis is upon us, thereby ratcheting up the pressure. And the GOP will see that, since Obama caved in going to the Congress about Syria, perhaps he'll cave when it comes to gutting the ACA in exchange for another six months of debt-limit extension. They'll be able to lay the blame for the delay squarely at Obama's feet; and they'll be right about that. PBO should have had the sense to stay out of the Syrian war, which we cannot influence to an outcome that would ultimately be acceptable to us.


They expect Obama to cave because he does it a lot. Sometimes he preemptively caves in to them.

Robert Henig

I think P.M and others here are mistaken. Pelosi and Reid have already endorsed an attack on Assad. I don't see a large scale Democratic revolt against Obama happening here. I'm sure a principled few will vote no, but not more than 10-15% of the caucus. Meanwhile, Boehner and McConnell have agreed to a vote, so no filibuster or Hastert rule. And the GOP most certainly will split along ideological lines. That equals a majority in both houses backing the administration.

Additionally, this makes the threat of default less likely. When national security is heightened, even many conservatives will not view kindly the idea of 'burning it all down'. Many non-Tea Party GOP voters are still patriotic, though they have to be jolted into such thinking. This is the kind of debate that can do so.

Here's hoping.


And meanwhile, there's this report that Cameron's government allowed a British company to export the raw materials to Syria that could be turned into chemical WMDs:

So whose side is Cameron really on? And who does his "defeat" in the Commons really serve? One might guess from these reports that Cameron might have been counting his votes quite accurately, with a view to an out, while helping supply the Assad regime. Perfidious Albion!

Peter G

Sorry shsavage but these sort of stories are mostly horseshit. Dual use my ass. The range of uses of these chemicals is very broad and they are themselves easy enough to synthesize. You might as well criticize the British government for exporting salt which can also be used to make these "precursors". They could have just imported window cleaner and got the same stuff.


Indeed, PeterG; I see your point. They're so benign that one wonders why an export permit from the British government was even necessary. In fact, they're probably being used in a Syrian baby milk plant even now.

Peter G

I often wonder about the point of that myself. I could see these rules applying to nuclear technologies but, unfortunately, as you point out, the same facility that makes virtually any type of chemical can be used to make another. All that you really control is temp and pressure and what's cooking in the reactor. Limiting availability of a particular component usually just means you have to add a step and make that component from some other innocuous chemicals. As I pointed out before, nerve agents are not hard to make by a competent chemist and so potent that no large scale production facility is necessary. It's somewhat more difficult with biological agents but not much if you can get your hands of the right strains of bacteria or virus. Brave new world indeed.

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