Syria Dominates Debate At G20 And In US

President Obama set out to convince his allies at the G20 to support his position on Syria, but his efforts have not yielded much progress, reports Voice of America – at home or abroad.

Iran May Be Open To Negotiations
Sune Engel Rasmussen of The Atlantic says Iran is not as tied to Syria’s fortunes as many believe and that there might be an opening for the Islamic nation to play a role in negotiations.

The dissolution of Saddam Hussein’s regime has opened up the door for warmer relations between Iran and Iraq, a situation that makes Syria less important for Iran.

“So there is a good chance that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei would be willing to “cut the head off the snake” in Damascus and keep the body. Assad is not as important for Tehran, as is ensuring that Syria’s power structure is friendly to Iran’s interests. Aware that a negotiated solution is the only way to achieve that, Iran has long called for political reforms in Syria,” Rasmussen writes.

Debate Intensifies About Consequences Of Syria Action
Philip Stephens in The Financial Times laments the degradation of the United Nations and the willingness of the international community to enforce global rules.

“The Syrian crisis throws into relief the collision of two principles underpinning the mission of the UN. The first is the founding statute that prohibits interference in the sovereign affairs of UN members without explicit authorization of the Security Council. The second, more recent pillar of global governance declares that sovereignty carries responsibilities as well as rights. The price of  non-interference is respect for the security of the citizen,” Stephens argues.

“The central irony of the present debate, however, is that the nation calling for intervention is also the one best equipped to prosper in a world without rules. Uniquely favorable geography, abundant natural resources, economic resilience and unrivalled military power offer the US the option of disengagement. Sure, it would suffer from a breakdown of the global order, but the US is as close as it gets to a self-sufficient superpower. Today’s champions of undiluted sovereignty would be the big losers.”

Domestic Debate Moves On With Views Hardening
In The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan, President Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter, makes the case for not taking action and for rejecting the argument that not acting will harm US standing or will send the wrong message to the world.

“We are, and everyone knows we are, the most militarily powerful and technologically able nation on earth. And at the end of the day America is America. We don’t have to bow to the claim that if we don’t attack Syria we are over as a great power.

“Are North Korea and Iran watching? Sure. They’ll always be watching. And no, they won’t say, “Huh, that settles it, if America didn’t move against Syria they’ll never move against us. All our worries are over.” In fact their worries, and ours, will continue,” argues Noonan.

On the other hand, . . . .

Michael Gerson of The Washington Post contends rejecting Obama’s request for congressional approval would diminish the standing of the commander in chief.

“Not every gesture is an empty gesture. And even if this military action were wrong or pointless, it would have to be sufficiently dangerous to justify the gelding of the executive branch on a global stage.

“A limited military strike may be symbolic. But for Congress to block that strike would be more than symbolic. It would undermine a tangible element of American influence: the perception that the commander in chief is fully in command,” writes George W. Bush’s former speechwriter.




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