Diplomatic dancing

Bow to your partners

The first of the partners to take a bow should be the British Parliament. For I am sure a variety of reasons they rejected military action against Syria. Despite the British Government’s decision not to go back to Parliament if new facts about the chemical attack on civilians should emerge I personally feel that if a strong enough case were made then Parliament would reverse it’s decision. However, the key to this would be to present a concrete, workable plan of military action that had clear objectives and had a reasonable chance of success. Thus far I have not been able to detect the existence any such plan and I doubt if actually it exists.

I’m really not certain that Obama should take a bow although doubtless he would smilingly do so. The whole ‘situation’ in Syria has been exacerbated by American ineptness, and I say that as one who is appreciative of American good intentions in this world.. As I opined in a previous article the British Parliament’s decision in many ways let Obama off the hook by allowing him to go to Congress to seek authorisation for military action. He doesn’t need to do so but can appear a true-blue democrat by doing so. That was all fine and dandy when it appeared that Congress would go along with it but increasingly it has begun to look like they might not. There is a lot of caution being expressed along with the expected gung-ho nonsense. What to do?

That ‘Good ‘Ole boy’ Vladi Putin can certainly take a bow, in my opinion he has played a blinder. Faced with a US President talking tough but basically unwilling to do anything he kept up his stance of ‘no military action should be countenanced’ whilst gently modifying his stance in case it actually happened. The Russian nyet might become something else, carefully undefined, if proof emerged that the Assad regime had in fact used chemical weapons. Not exactly selling a client state down the river but coming close to it because Russia would be unlikely to risk any military confrontation with the US, the same being true for America of course. This raises the real possibility of both sides (Russia and America) misreading the others intentions or resolve. With Obama now backed into a corner of his own making and facing the real possibility of an embarrassing refusal by Congress to endorse military action, Putin now suggested a way out.

The Assad regime should take a bow too. Not because they are innocent of all charges but because they are playing skilfully the game. Mindful of how the Iranian regime has strung the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.) along for years they immediately agreed that UN inspectors should be allowed full access to chemical weapons stocks and yes of course they agreed to handing them over to some as yet unnamed other party for safe keeping until they needed them again, no sorry I meant to put them out of commission, what was I thinking about?

Enter Congress

Obama might be hoping that with American somewhat lukewarm, acceptance of the Russian plan that Congress would authorise the use of force as a bargaining tool, as in ‘trust me I don’t want to bomb Syria but I just might have to if all else fails’. There is no real sign of that at the moment that Congress will go along with that and Obama is a worried man. He has invested a lot of personal political capital in persuading Congress to go along with his plan, such as it is and if his plan is rejected he will in effect become even more of a lame-duck president than he already is.

Putin in the meantime is still insisting that Russia will not go along with military action and the wrangling at the UN continues. The Russians have always been more successful than the Americans at taking a long-term view and I have no doubt that Putin would knife Assad as soon as look at him if a better opportunity to advance Russian interests in the Mediterranean came along.

Ladies and Gentlemen, take your partners by the hand and let the dancing begin

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