Off to the Races

by: Shaun Appleby

Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 20:50:58 PM EDT

The first round of activity has already been undertaken in the UN Security Council with the submission of a French resolution:

Russia, the main backer of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, opposed the French-drafted resolution and had been expected to propose a weaker Security Council statement, which are largely symbolic statements on the chemical arms crisis.

The main sticking point was that France wanted to invoke Chapter Seven of the UN Charter, making any resolution legally binding and enforceable by military action.

France was backed by the UK and the US in proposing the statement that Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, said would threaten "extremely serious" consequences if Syria failed to hand over its banned weapons.

The US administration has said it would not fall victim to stalling tactics, and France's proposal reportedly outlined a rapid timetable for disarmament.

Divisions emerge over UN statement on Syria Al Jazeera 10 Sep 13

The distinction between a Chapter VI and Chapter VII resolution is vitally important and it is disingenuous of Russia to pretend that the lesser would satisfy under the circumstances. Vladimir Putin himself, dabbling in diplomacy, has further entrenched Russia behind this obstacle:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that a plan for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons stockpile will only work if the United States agrees not to use force.

Putin told reporters on Tuesday that the plan "can work, only in the event that we hear that the American side and those who support the USA, in this sense, reject the use of force."

Syria plan will work if US rejects force: Vladimir Putin AP via NDTV 10 Sep 13

This seems an overreach on Putin's part; perhaps revealing a weakness of strategy or personality. Whichever is the case it seems vital that Congress and the American public give the Obama administration the support they need to meet this important challenge and help reassert diplomacy as an effective, viable alternative to military conflict.

Shaun Appleby :: Off to the Races
The distinction over the type of resolution is not trivial:

Earlier, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the UN motion should ensure that Russia's offer was "not a ruse".

"We need a proper timetable, process and consequences if it's not done," he said.

Mr Kerry said a binding UN resolution was needed on the issue.

Our correspondent says there is also wrangling over whether the resolution should be Chapter 7 or Chapter 6.

Chapter 7 permits military action if other measures do not succeed. Chapter 6 stipulates peaceful methods of resolving disputes.

Syria conflict: Disputes flare over UN resolution BBC 10 Sep 13

It is not quite that simple, however. The Syrian use of lethal chemical weapons clearly falls under Chapter VII, Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression which contains the crucial Article 42:

Article 42: Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.

Charter of the United Nations: Chapter VII UN

Anything less is just a sternly worded letter. It would seem clear that a binding Chapter VII resolution, at a minimum, would be what the US, France and now the UK would accept and agree too. That the Russians would now be prevaricating on this point seems to be an indication of bad faith and perhaps that the West may have inadvertently called what was only ever meant as a bluff. One would hope that the American public and Congress would help the administration drive this point firmly home.

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Off to the Races | 48 comments
From Obama's Address... (2.00 / 13)
Emphasis added:

It's too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments, but this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad's strongest allies.

I have therefore asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path. I'm sending Secretary of State John Kerry to meet his Russian counterpart on Thursday, and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin.

FULL TRANSCRIPT: President Obama's Sept. 10 speech on Syria Washington Post 10 Sep 13

Sounds like he's talking about Chapter VII if you ask me. It beats me what Putin has up his sleeve at this point. And what about the Chinese? Who's taking their pulse?

Putin's Track Record... (2.00 / 11)
Is abysmal. It is no wonder that Secretary of State Kerry and others initially dismissed the Lavrov offer, emphasis added:

Since 2011, Russia and China have vetoed three separate Security Council resolutions condemning the Syrian regime's violence or promoting a political solution to the conflict. This year alone, Russia has blocked at least three statements expressing humanitarian concern and calling for humanitarian access to besieged cities in Syria.

And in the past two months, Russia has blocked two resolutions condemning the generic use of chemical weapons and two press statements expressing concern about their use. We believe that more than 1,400 people were killed in Damascus on August 21, and the Security Council could not even agree to put out a press statement expressing its disapproval.

Remarks by Ambassador Samantha Power US Mission to the UN 6 Sep 13

We need to be sober about the possibilities afforded by the Security Council as now constituted. China seems inscrutable but Putin's motivations have been ulterior, unsavoury and plain:

"You can't really ask Syria, or any other country, to disarm unilaterally while military action against it is being contemplated," President Putin said on Tuesday.

Putin: Syria chem arms handover will work only if US calls off strike Russia Times 10 Sep 13

Really, Vladimir? Citing the surrender of the illicit chemical weapons stockpile that you yourself conspired to conceal from international view and condemnation is now 'unilateral disarmament?' It seems when you unpack how this guy thinks you are likely to get a chill up your spine.

It is pretty obvious where their chemical arsenal figures in his attitude to Syria's options in escalating any conflict. And tempting to wonder who might actually wield it; should we now be less or more concerned knowing that Syria's chemical weapons are now in de facto Russian control. Israel, are you watching this performance? Vlad, you're scaring me.

[ Parent ]
Only a chapter VII resolution would be viable (2.00 / 12)
Given the immediate threat the use of chemical weapons poses.

This is proper preparation. It gives the bad faith actors enough rope to hang themselves, and focuses laser-like on the conventions of non chemical weapon use.

I'm still surprised (a little) that this pathway/trap wasn't prepared before. Now everything is open to scrutiny, and the conspiracy theorists, peak oil fanatics, and Putinapologists are being forced into a nice tight corner.

There is still hope for a successful outcome in this. So many who would bash POTUS, or who decried Bosnia/Kosovo/Libya as well as Iraq will have to reveal their fundamental suppositions about international order and non proliferation

Meanwhile, on the right, the Neocons who hijacked international standards for their own weird quasi rational eschatology, will also be forced into a corner. Do they really want everything or nothing? Are they so addicted to the to erotics of power that they see a cruise missile launch as the ultimate shock and awe come-shot? (apologies for that image)

Once again, by bending to people and circumstance, but keeping his ultimate goals in view, Obama has proved himself as the best community organiser for the international community.

It isn't about leading from the front, dressed in an airman's jacket behind a banner saying Mission Accomplished. It's actually about a real mission - making the world a safer place taking heed of all its various participants.

What pundits call weakness in Obama, I call his biggest strength

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Last night on my Twitter stream: (2.00 / 10)
@LOLGOP: President Obama is going to need to be very subtle and nuanced to win over Republicans. I suggest a flight suit and a banner of some sort.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
I Agree (2.00 / 9)
I see most current events as 'fresh history' and from that perspective much of the spin seems even more trivial and shallow. The new twin pillars of congressional authorisation and UN resolution are pretty clearly giving the rest of DC whiplash and the media nose-bleeds. As far as traditional ideological divisions it's "dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria."

The neo-cons are off on Fantasy Island. The Left is now aligned with Putin, Rand Paul and the Tea Party; and some of the stuff coming from them has been just precious. Fox News doesn't know what is coming next or whom to book. I have had a few good chuckles but it seems to me that the Left is just as likely to render itself irrelevant in its frantic opposition to Obama as the dysfunctional GOP already has done. A two-fer.

This business in the UN could drag on for a while if we're not careful. Russia has a long history of obfuscation. But I honestly don't think Putin reckoned Obama would call his bluff. We'll see.  

[ Parent ]
Looking Back (2.00 / 7)
Given Putin's apparently impressive leverage with Syria it is hard not to see the regime's stealthy use of chemical weapons since last December as extremely cynical, at least, if not arguably sinister.

[ Parent ]
So impressed by this diary (2.00 / 11)
I've bigged it up on GOS

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Glad You Liked It (2.00 / 9)
I'm not very popular over there. I've noted Hayes Brown, who is writing about all this for Think Progress and knows a lot more about it than I do, has said that Article 42 isn't the whole story; and I believe him.

But having said that we are in some novel territory as far as the intersection of recent world historical events and the UN is concerned.

[ Parent ]
It's the supreme court stupid (2.00 / 8)
...has a very good point. The real deal breaker might be referral to the ICC

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
i think that's right. (2.00 / 8)

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

[ Parent ]
Not So Sure (2.00 / 8)
I think we could trade that one away for the stockpile at this point. It can always come later. It is physical possession of the chemical weapons under the threat of force which is at issue. There are too few bread crumbs between Assad and the execution of the attack just at the moment, it seems to me. Whether by accident or design, we can't say, but the ICC referral might just be there for deal-making.

[ Parent ]
That is my point. Oh, perhaps (2.00 / 6)
the French really wanted it, but, my point is that its inclusion gives "our" side greater leverage with the Russians.  

BTW, the referral might be the one thing that could cause the Chinese to veto the resolution, even without a supporting Russian veto.  The Chinese don't like to veto alone, unless they feel that they have a major strategic interest in the area.  They do not see Syria (or, the Middle East, in general) as part of their "sphere of influence", so they will be less inclined to go it alone.  But, they will hold the Russians' coat in a NY minute.

I am for the individual over government, government over big business and the environment over all. -- William O. Douglas

[ Parent ]
But Why? (2.00 / 5)
I'm delighted to find someone confident to speak to Chinese motives. Why veto over the ICC referral? Because of night-sweats they're still having over Tiananmen Square?

I don't think the ICC referral, as I said, will stay. But I'm really curious at what puts daylight between Russia and China.

China has a long term vested interest in Russia's Caspian Sea energy ambitions. But as they've noted, and quite sincerely, their concern is solely if the outcome is good or bad for their global business prospects. I believe that. So at what point does Putin's aggrandising become bad for business? I think we need to look closely at that.

My premise, at this point, is that Vladimir has been a very cheeky boy lately. The Snowden caper, the Bandar leak, chemical Assad, lots of media pilot fish in the water globally, maybe even some skulduggery around the Boston bombings; who knows? Not sure how much of this the Chinese want to countenance.

[ Parent ]
I'm just saying that, in my view, (2.00 / 5)
the Chinese will likely go along with anything the Russians will countenance (since I cannot believe that the Russians will allow a referral to go through). They see the US and Russia checking each other in the Middle East, and that is well and good from their point of view.  They also don't want chemical weapons in the hands of radical islamists.  They have their own problems domestically on that end (which do not get that much press coverage).    

I am for the individual over government, government over big business and the environment over all. -- William O. Douglas

[ Parent ]
OK (2.00 / 5)
So there's no daylight? I get it that they're for keeping the balance of power at the status quo but it seems to me at some point that gets more complicated. Both the US and Russia are still playing games in Kyrgizstan.

If, as you say, "they also don't want chemical weapons in the hands of radical Islamists" wouldn't they have perhaps a stronger motive than Putin to follow through with this? To be honest, I believe this Russian proposal was not meant entirely in good faith; it was originally mooted, we're told, by an Iranian delegation to Damascus in a different context quite some time ago and it seems to me Putin seized on Iran's acquiesance to thwart and embarrass the West without perhaps considering carefully Obama would really take him up on it. He almost didn't.

[ Parent ]
Buy the Way... (2.00 / 6)
Anyone who quotes the woolly Telegraph piece about Bandar without dusting it for Russian fingerprints is doing their critical thinking all wrong.

My first thought when reading it was, "Chechens, eh? You bastard!"

[ Parent ]
Shameful personal secret (2.00 / 10)
I swore off the GOS 4-5 weeks ago and have not posted there since. My shameful secret is that I still log on to the GOS a few times each week to get a glimpse of the place. I log on to my account about once a week, because the odd personal message still reaches me there.

However I am glad I succumbed to my weaker self today. I spotted Brit's diary and lo and behold he was citing Shawn Appleby, whom I recently met at the green lily pad where frogs are marched. And in so doing I learned about this purple moose.

And now at first encounter I have fresh hopes I've finally found a place where politics and current events are discussed above the level of the lowest common denominator, and where creative thinking can get a fair hearing even if at first impression it flies in the face of orthodoxy.

So i use my first moose call to express my thanks to an old acquaintance, Brit, and a new one, Mr Appleby, for steering me here.

[ Parent ]
Welcome... (2.00 / 9)
Good to see you. The last two weeks over at the pond were pretty tough ones; I admire you for standing your ground. I couldn't put up with it any more.

[ Parent ]
I noticed you dropped off the lily pad (2.00 / 6)
My visits have been sporadic. On the upside, several lurker types came out strongly in support of the President. And the pad-lord has upped his game now that he writes in response to current events, and since current events are proceeding with the understanding that Assad Did It. Now if you press him on it, or praise him for finally rejecting the fa;se flag nonsense he will still claim false flag has legitimacy. So he's not out of the algae slick entirely.

[ Parent ]
Yeah... (2.00 / 7)
Well, bollocks to him. It's Harry's Cafe de Wheels over there, the all-night, all-you-can-eat Lefty buffet and cabaret that only throws the regulars and hangers-on out briefly to sweep up the detritus and start afresh. Martin knows exactly what he's doing and it pays the rent. I've seen the whole show several times over by now; it was fun for a while.

He's a damn sight more cogent on domestic politics, to be fair. Otherwise a mad-hatter's tea party.

[ Parent ]
Been a member a long time (2.00 / 6)
But my visits there have been brief compared to months or even years of no visits. So I don't know his "business model" shall we say. However that it exactly what I think is happening at GOS. Clicks and views.

[ Parent ]
PS: My fierces do not seem to be working (2.00 / 6)
Just so people know. I am trying. :)

[ Parent ]
New users often report this problem. (2.00 / 6)
I think that it has to do with you being allowed to see the option circles but not yet having the rights you need to complete the database update. Give it a few days and if it still is not working, let someone know.

We don't have computer generated mojo here anyway so the lack of a Fierce does not cause much grief.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
I'm still trying to suss out... (2.00 / 7)
the triple-Fierce (originally double-Fail with a full-Meh) that I pulled off the other day.

I've not ever seen such a thing.

While I've often felt of three minds on a subject, I've never lent voice to all three at once!
(at least when free of hallucinogens)
(which I am, I promise!)

I really do think, at times, that the database has a mind of its own.



[ Parent ]
Face It (2.00 / 5)
You're just omniscient.

[ Parent ]
Har!! (2.00 / 3)
I've often felt of three minds on a subject, I've never lent voice to all three at once!

Sometimes such a lack of internal consistency, though, would give us plausible deniability. ;)

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
I am but an egg and eggs are not allowed to be fierce (2.00 / 5)
It's been cleared up for me now. So in a day or two I can fill in the bubble.

The whole concept of mojo rated a meh from me as I never found the store which took mojobucks. But the fierce or rec or +1 function is nice. It allows one to say "me too" or even "yes, I did read  your reply" without the clutter of a bunch of tiny comments.

Well, picture a line of phantom fierces up and down the line here.

[ Parent ]
/smile (2.00 / 7)
Welcome to the Moose, Quicklund!

I see that you have already found some familiar faces.  : )

Your ability to rec/rate should kick in in about 24-hrs. We have a bit of a delay on full 'powers' (so as to discourage spammers).

If you have any questions about the Moose, feel free to ask in any active thread (or use the 'Contact the Moose' link found at the bottom of each page). The Daily Check-Ins are a great place to find Moosey answers.

I'm happy to see ya...yours is a name long recognized by me.

Make yourself at home!

Insider's Guide to Motley Moose


[ Parent ]
Thanks Kysen (2.00 / 6)
That goes for the fierce clarification and more so for the warm welcome. I'm replying here just to be sure I'm not swept into the triple-fierce double-fail with full meh. I don't know what that is but I suspect it leads to spaghettification.

[ Parent ]
Ramen (2.00 / 5)
Hallowed be thy sauce
Thy serving come
Thy strands be wrung
And all thy noodly appendages al dente.

[ Parent ]
warmonger!1!! (2.00 / 9)
i kid, i kid.

welcome.  :)

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

[ Parent ]
Welcome Quicklund (2.00 / 9)
I think you'll like it here

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Thank you for the welcome (2.00 / 9)
I look forward to reliving the early experiences on Great Orange. In those days I spent far more time learning than I  spent evening up the plucked eyeball count, in the rhetorical sense.

[ Parent ]
Hey there! (2.00 / 7)
Good to see you've wandered in here; it is indeed a haven for thoughtful, rational and civilized (even when passions are provoked) discussion.  I too used to find Kos's place an eye-opener, before Obama Derangement Syndrome swept over it.

I still dabble in the frog pond, but it's disheartening to see the same names go on spouting the same unthinking orthodoxies and dominating discussions.

If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done subjunctively.

[ Parent ]
Thank you janicket (2.00 / 6)
I noticed about the only thumbs-up I got over at the frog pond came from you. :)  

[ Parent ]
You're most welcome (2.00 / 5)
And there were a few*, a very few others who gave you thumbs up besides me, and who went further and backed you up with their own arguments, but yeh, it has been a lonely outpost you've been holding against the hordes, eh?

The saddest part of it has been seeing some regulars who are capable of offering thoughtful, intelligent comments on many topics getting hopelessly lost in the Left Blogistan weeds.

*The few, the proudly rational, the non-maroons?

If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done subjunctively.

[ Parent ]
Me Too (2.00 / 6)
It was very supportive. Thanks. Even if you didn't always agree with me.

[ Parent ]
Some More Pretty Good Background... (2.00 / 11)
Of recent diplomatic wrangling here and here. The one bright spot is the Syrians genuinely seem eager to get rid of their chemical stockpile; I wonder what the story is with that.

It may be too early to call Putin's offer a bluff but the details don't live up to the advance billing. (2.00 / 10)
The president's speech did one thing: by delaying the vote on the Authorization to Use Military Force, the threat of military action is still on the table. If Congress had voted, it is likely that the AUMF would have failed, or worse, been turned into a Christmas tree by McCain and his hawks to add regime change and support for one of the rebel groups in the civil war including boots on the ground.

A "sternly worded letter" will not do. And Congress needs to come to grips with that and be prepared to give the president the cudgel he needs to force compliance.

The last report I saw indicated that Syria would "sign the chemical weapons agreement and 'declare' its arsenal". That sounds a whole lot different than the earlier reports that Assad would turn over his weapons to Russia.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

The President's Address on Syria, September 10, 2013 (2.00 / 11)
From the White House: President Obama Addresses the Nation on Syria
Just after 9:00 PM ET, President Obama delivered a national address from the East Room of the White House to discuss the situation in Syria. He explained why he has called for military strikes in response to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons, laid out his reasons for asking Congress to authorize the use of force, and described how the threat of U.S. action has created the potential for a diplomatic breakthrough.

"Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong," the President said. "But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act."

Full transcript.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

I wonder how much of the Russian (2.00 / 8)
objection is really about Chapter 7, and how much is about the ICC referral in the draft French resolution.  Sure, they do want to limit the authorization, but, I suspect that their real objection is to the ICC referral.  That is the chip which will have to be bargained away to secure a strong authorization.

I am for the individual over government, government over big business and the environment over all. -- William O. Douglas

concur. (2.00 / 8)

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

[ Parent ]
Maybe (2.00 / 6)

@hayesbrown Probably in there as a giveaway item in the first place... RT @curtiskj: Also the ICC referral is probably a non-starter for Russia.

Seems about right to me.

[ Parent ]
Obviously, he is a most perceptive commentator. ;~} (2.00 / 5)

I am for the individual over government, government over big business and the environment over all. -- William O. Douglas

[ Parent ]
Heh (2.00 / 5)
Missed your "chip which will have to be bargained away" first time around.

[ Parent ]
Excellent Backgrounder... (2.00 / 8)
Up at the Post; an interview with David Bosco. A dissenting view:

How important is it in practical terms for the resolution to invoke Chapter 7? Does it matter for the effectiveness of the disarmament regime?

Chapter 7 has become a key question at the Security Council because, in legal terms, it does affect the weight of the resolution. But in practical terms, of course, the Security Council does things under Chapter 7 all the time that it doesn't enforce or back up. There's nothing magical about Chapter 7. So I could actually imagine the U.S. agreeing to something without Chapter 7 so long as the language was tough enough.

Dylan Matthews - The man who wrote the book on the U.N. Security Council tells how it's handling Syria Washington Post 11 Sep 13

I wonder about that; this isn't your everyday UNSC resolution and Obama is going to want to see Putin's hand early. It shouldn't be too hard to call Putin's bluff at this point. Jeez, I wish I was confident that the rest of our government had his back.

sigh (2.00 / 7)
Sometimes I think the only one other than Michelle and the girls who always has his back is Bo.

If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done subjunctively.

[ Parent ]
Off to the Races | 48 comments

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