Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Peaceful Answer to the Syria Question?

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, the drumbeats of war sounded awfully loud. But today, a diplomatic solution to the Syria crisis looks near.

Just hours after Russia stepped forward with a proposal for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons stockpile to international control, France decided to test the seriousness of this proposal by submitting it to the United Nations (UN) Security Council for consideration. And the Syrian Government is now claiming it will comply with this agreement.

But then again, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was denying possession of chemical weapons just 48 hours ago. And Russia was openly challenging the veracity of Western intelligence on Syrian chemical weapons just last week. So is this offer truly in good faith?

This is why President Obama is proceeding cautiously. However, he is proceeding with this in hand. After all, this may be the breakthrough that the world has anxiously been waiting for.

Obama had planned to use [today's] meetings with Democratic and Republican senators to personally lobby for his plan of targeted strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in retaliation for last month’s massive chemical weapons attack outside of Damascus. Instead, he signaled in interviews ahead of his trip to Capitol Hill that new diplomacy involving Russia and others could eliminate the risks of a repeat chemical attack without requiring an American intervention. He presents his case to the American people Tuesday night.

“The key is, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, that we don’t just trust, but we also verify,” Obama told CBS. “The importance is to make sure that the international community has confidence that these chemical weapons are under control, that they are not being used, that potentially they are removed from Syria and that they are destroyed.”

Yesterday, the numbers in Congress did not appear to be on the side of military intervention in Syria. But today, things may be changing. While intense skepticism remains, there are also new questions about this potential diplomatic solution. Yet with this diplomatic solution now on the table, this may provide an escape hatch for Members of Congress who were caught between a desire to "punish Syria & snub Russia", and real fear of the US being caught in another Middle East war.

Tonight, President Obama will be addressing the American people live. But now, he needs a new script... Or does he? At least now, the Syria Question may be nearing a peaceful answer.

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