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Offline mystery-ak

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http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/30/obama-strike-syria-britain-vote


Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force

White House forced to consider unilateral strikes against Assad after British PM unexpectedly loses key motion on intervention

 
    Paul Lewis and Spencer Ackerman in Washington
    The Guardian, Thursday 29 August 2013   



Barack Obama's plans for air strikes against Syria were thrown into disarray on Thursday night after the British parliament unexpectedly rejected a motion designed to pave the way to authorising the UK's participation in military action.

The White House was forced to consider the unpalatable option of taking unilateral action against the regime of Bashar al-Assad after the British prime minister, David Cameron, said UK would not now take part in any military action in response to a chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus last week.

Although Britain's support was not a prerequisite for US action, the Obama administration was left exposed without the backing of its most loyal ally, which has taken part in every major US military offensive in recent years.

Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for Obama's national security council, indicated the administration would consider acting unliaterally. "The US will continue to consult with the UK government – one of our closest allies and friends. As we've said, President Obama's decision-making will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States.

"He believes that there are core interests at stake for the United States and that countries who violate international norms regarding chemical weapons need to be held accountable."

The US appears to have taken British support for granted. Hours before the vote, the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, Diane Feinstein, expressed confidence that Britain would join any strike.

Feinstein, a Democrat and staunch administration ally, told Time magazine: "I think the UK makes a difference. I think if the president were to decide to go there's a very high likelihood that the United Kingdom would be with us."

The timing of the British vote, 272 to 285 against the government, was disastrous for Obama. Less than 30 minutes after the vote, senior intelligence officials began a conference call with key members of Congress, in an attempt to keep US lawmakers on side.

Congressional leaders and the chairs and ranking members of national security committees were briefed by the most senior US intelligence officials, amid signs that some of the support for military strikes against Syria was fading.

The officials said there was "no doubt" that chemical weapons were used in Syria last week, Reuters reported. Obama aides cited intercepted communications of Syrian officials and evidence of movements by Syria's military around Damascus before the attack that killed more than 300 people, said Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House foreign affairs committee.

The 90-minute briefing was conducted by secretary of state John Kerry, secretary of defense Chuck Hagel, national security adviser Susan Rice, among others.

After the briefing, Carl Levin, the Democratic chairman of the Senate armed services committee, urged a cautious approach. "I have previously called for the United States to work with our friends and allies to increase the military pressure on the Assad regime by providing lethal aid to vetted elements of the Syrian opposition.

"Tonight, I suggested that we should do so while UN inspectors complete their work and while we seek international support for limited, targeted strikes in response to the Assad regime's large-scale use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people."

The UN has said more time should be given to diplomacy, and France, which earlier this week declared its support for taking action against Syria, is now calling for more time so UN inspections can be completed. A session of the United Nations security council in New York, called by Russia, broke up without agreement.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, instructed the 20-strong inspection team in Damascus to leave on Saturday, a day ahead of schedule. Ban also announced that the team would report to him immediately on departure, raising the possibility that the UN could issue an interim report on the 21 August chemical attacks that left hundreds of people dead.

The inspectors had not been due to deliver their findings for a week at least. The demand for a rushed early assessment reflects the fraught atmosphere at the UN triggered by US threats to launch punitive air strikes within days.

Shortly before Britain's parliamentary vote, the New York Times quoted senior administration officials saying the US administration was prepared to launch strikes on Syria without a UN security council mandate or the support of allies such as Britain.

Earlier on Thursday, Joshua Earnest, the White House deputy spokesman, seemed to confirm that was a possibility when he was asked whether the US would "go it alone". He repeatedly said it was in US "core national security interests" to enforce international chemical weapons norms. "The president of the United States is elected with the duty to protect the national security interests of America," he said. Any strikes would be "discreet and limited", he said.

However, Earnest also stressed the broad international support for the US position – backing that now appears to be dissipating. The Arab League has blamed Syria for the chemical attack, but stopped short of advocating punitive strikes by the US.

In recent days, Obama has spoken personally with leaders of France, Australia, Canada and Germany. But none were as important as Britain, a traditional ally during US military actions which has been lobbying behind the scenes for months for a tougher action on Syria.

Ken Pollack, a fellow from the Saban Centre for Middle East Policy, said that with continuing uncertainty over the intelligence picture, and no obvious legal mandate for military action, the US will be desperate to secure more international backing to argue that intervention is "legitimate".

"If the administration can't even count of the full-throated support of our closest ally, the country that stuck by us even during the worst days of Iraq, that legitimacy is going to be called into question," he said.

Now that the UK parliament has rejected an attack on Syria, Washington's space for planning one is likely to be constrained, particularly as the Obama administration prepares to release its intelligence tying Assad to the 21 August gas attack. An unclassified report is due to be published on Friday.

Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA Middle East analyst and Georgetown professor, said the loss of British support would lead to more "intense" scrutiny of the US case for action against Syria. "The UK is, in many important respects, the most important ally of the United States," said Pillar. "This action by parliament is unquestionably significant in that regard."

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Offline Right_in_Virginia

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Re: Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2013, 09:54:30 AM »
We need a Congressional debate and vote!!
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Re: Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2013, 10:02:14 AM »
Woah!!!!!

It was not rejected. It is a none binding resolution. It takes the tone of the House, but in no way limits the PM's ability to act. As I said on another thread, it was pretty much a party line vote.
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Offline Right_in_Virginia

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Re: Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2013, 10:07:55 AM »
Woah!!!!!

It was not rejected. It is a none binding resolution. It takes the tone of the House, but in no way limits the PM's ability to act. As I said on another thread, it was pretty much a party line vote.

And the PM's already stated several times publicly that he will abide by this vote and not join military action.
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Re: Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2013, 10:15:54 AM »
And the PM's already stated several times publicly that he will abide by this vote and not join military action.

Wanna buy a bridge? One lady owner. Polished it twice a week.

The US goes in, we go in. Full stop. You know that, the world knows that.
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Offline Scottftlc

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Re: Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2013, 11:07:50 AM »
I think the action by Parliament was highly important because it was the act that gave attention to the matter in the U.S. and started the questioning of this entire folly.  Before, America was sleepwalking into Obama's next deadly dalliance with radical Islamists.  Britain has now given a voice to the opposition here and people are paying attention whereas before the opposition could not even get attention, let alone traction.

Britain has done a service for America with that vote...regardless of whether or not Obama plows ahead with this destructive folly, and regardless of whether Britain ends up getting drug into it.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 12:45:38 PM by Scottftlc »
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Re: Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2013, 11:56:04 AM »
Not a snowballs chance I will disagree with you on that.

The US is backing the wrong side. We know it, but "proud rebels rising up against a dictator" is far more emotive for the ones who don't hunt for the real news.

Do I like Assad? No. Do I like the alternative? Hell no!
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Re: Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2013, 01:15:09 PM »
Woah!!!!!

It was not rejected. It is a none binding resolution. It takes the tone of the House, but in no way limits the PM's ability to act. As I said on another thread, it was pretty much a party line vote.

Nonetheless, does the vote signal any risks to Cameron's continued government if he chooses to ignore the vote?  In other words, if he ignores it and a bunch of UK troops get plastered, is he going to face a vote of no confidence?

Offline Dengar01

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Re: Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2013, 01:16:48 PM »
It is amazing to me how the liberals are all for bombing Syria.  The same bums who wanted Bush impeached are all beating war drums. 

This speech by Kerry right now is making me literally want to puke!

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Re: Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2013, 01:17:52 PM »
It is amazing to me how the liberals are all for bombing Syria.  The same bums who wanted Bush impeached are all beating war drums. 

This speech by Kerry right now is making me literally want to puke!

One of the essential characteristics of liberalism is hypocrisy, dyed-in-the-wool hypocrisy.

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Re: Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2013, 01:19:49 PM »
Nonetheless, does the vote signal any risks to Cameron's continued government if he chooses to ignore the vote?  In other words, if he ignores it and a bunch of UK troops get plastered, is he going to face a vote of no confidence?

It is possible. Labour will certainly push for one. They will not have the votes, on current count. Having just watched the Kerry presser - he was 32 minutes late - right now I am feeling "Oh, crap!!"
« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 01:20:59 PM by EC »
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Re: Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2013, 01:23:53 PM »
It is possible. Labour will certainly push for one. They will not have the votes, on current count.

At present; however, suppose the US initiates a unilateral attack and the UK follows the US in, only to take some unpleasant hits, would that cause more of the members to side with Labour?

Offline massadvj

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Re: Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2013, 01:26:23 PM »
It is amazing to me how the liberals are all for bombing Syria.  The same bums who wanted Bush impeached are all beating war drums. 

This speech by Kerry right now is making me literally want to puke!

You mean Mr. "Global Test" says we should strike unilaterally?  Imagine that!
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Re: Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2013, 01:36:04 PM »
At present; however, suppose the US initiates a unilateral attack and the UK follows the US in, only to take some unpleasant hits, would that cause more of the members to side with Labour?

That's a toss up. We take unpleasant hits then talk about the weather (think the IRA or the 7/7 bombings) - so in a way no. With the current make up of the House, if push comes to shove the vote will be mostly party lines with a few votes of conscience either way, probably cancelling each other out, which will narrowly defeat a vote of no confidence. Might not be by much - 4 votes maybe - but Cameron should squeak by even if there is a right royal SNAFU.
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Re: Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2013, 01:47:02 PM »
Double post, sorry.

There is an additional complication. A vote of no confidence has to be accepted by the Queen in person. She actually has to sign off on it, since the PM serves at her pleasure. Considering the long ties to and treaties with Jordan and Israel, that would be difficult to grant during a time of war aimed at our long time allies.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 01:48:37 PM by EC »
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Offline Cincinnatus

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Re: Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2013, 02:50:36 PM »
You mean Mr. "Global Test" says we should strike unilaterally?  Imagine that!

Yeah, imagine. Remember the constant din from the Left about how Bush had no support from other nations with his Iraqi invasion?

This whole thing is rife with hypocrisy and thus far the MSM has been silent on that point.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 02:52:56 PM by Cincinnatus »
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Re: Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2013, 02:52:06 PM »
Double post, sorry.

There is an additional complication. A vote of no confidence has to be accepted by the Queen in person. She actually has to sign off on it, since the PM serves at her pleasure. Considering the long ties to and treaties with Jordan and Israel, that would be difficult to grant during a time of war aimed at our long time allies.

Which raises an interesting interplay of powers and the relationship between the Queen and the Prime Minister.  As I understand it, although the Queen has the technical authority to overrule the Prime Minister, in practice she almost never does - in part, as was explained to me by Greg Craven when I took Con. Law with him in Australia, because it would be an undemocratic thing to do and dangerous for a head of state who does not stand for election and therefore cannot be said to have the support of the public solely by virtue of her position as Queen.  Certainly, as Craven pointed out, the Queen can and does mercilessly grill the Prime Minister over legislation she finds objectionable during their consultations, and that the Prime Minister will often return to Parliament to try and remove those issues repugnant to the Queen, but that at the end of the day the Queen will normally accede to the wishes of the people as expressed by the legislation passed in Parliament.

It raises an interesting interplay because it normally when a Parliamentary act is brought to the Queen for approval, it is the Prime Minister who is the principal advocate for the act in persuading the Queen to approve the act; however, in a case such as a no-confidence vote, I would assume the Prime Minister would not advocate for that vote, despite the fact that he would have to stand as a school-boy and face the Queen's probing questions about why she should not accept the vote.  Interesting because the roles are reversed in a sense and now it is the Queen - the unelected head of state - who is advocating for the will of the people as expressed by Parliament, and the Prime Minister - the elected member of Parliament in charge of the government - who is advocating against the expressed will of the people.

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Re: Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2013, 03:08:57 PM »
“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” - Barack Obama 2007
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Re: Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2013, 03:13:28 PM »
“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” - Barack Obama 2007

Hypocrisy is the bread and butter of liberalism.

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Re: Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
« Reply #19 on: August 30, 2013, 03:18:59 PM »
You got that exactly and perfectly right.

The Crown is not a figurehead, though it has been reduced to a shadow of itself (rightly, I say). The reigning monarch is supposed to be the embodiment of the wishes of the people and the country. That is the ideal, anyway, though you can imagine how many times it falls short  :laugh:

Since She can't speak to everyone, the will of the people is represented by the MP's. Her job is to implement that, as long as it will not harm the nation as a whole. Deciding if a particular piece of legislation was potentially harmful used to be the job of the House of Lords. That aspect of the checks and balances system has pretty much gone by the wayside. Since they were not elected, the Lords - in theory - had no outside influences. Coming from all three branches - Lords, Clergy and Judicial, it was assumed that if legislation was approved it was beneficial to the country as a whole.
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