diplomacy

There are no good options in Ukraine

Crimea

First, a timeline:

2/27:

US intelligence does not anticipate a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

2/28:

Russian forces arrive “uncontested” in Crimea, barricading roads, commandeering the Sevastopol airport.

Obama warns of “costs for any military intervention in Ukraine”.

3/1:

Putin requests permission to deploy the Russian military to Ukraine.

Within an hour, the duma grants, and the full Russian invasion of Ukraine begins.

As we can see, Russia takes American threats very seriously. And why should they? President Obama’s planned strike on Syria was stopped in its tracks (fortunately) by behind-the-scenes dithering, overwhelming popular opposition, and congressional uncertainty. Putin knows America has no stomach for military intervention after almost thirteen years in Afghanistan and Iraq.

European countries offer asylum to Syrians, Obama pushes for strike

President Obama’s quest for support in what would be an air strike against Syria has taken much of our attention during the past several weeks.

Since the number of Syrians fleeing the troubled country is increasing, countries like Italy and Sweden have found peaceful, meaningful ways of offering aid without being directly involved in conflicts. Sweden has recently announced that the country is admitting all Syrian refugees who apply, which is a solution to thousands of Syrians whose lives are at a greater risk now that rebel forces are gaining support of radical Islamist groups. On Friday, Italian coast guard rescued hundreds of Syrian and Egyptian refugees off the coast of Sicily. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also announced that 5,000 Syrian refugees would be welcomed next month. The EU member that has offered over 340 million euros in humanitarian aid to Syrian victims is now granting refugee status to fleeing Syrians.

Next U.S. Ambassador to China: “I’m no real expert on China”

Let’s give Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) some credit. At least he didn’t try to completely bullshit his way through the confirmation process like George Tunis, who will serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Norway.

But Baucus, who has been tapped to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to China, said something yesterday that you don’t want to hear from diplomatic nominee. He admitted yesterday during his confirmation hearing that he is “no real expert on China.”

Deal reached to slow Iran’s nuclear program

Obama's Iran statement

News broke late Saturday evening that a historic deal had been reached between Iran and six countries — including the United States, Russia, and China — that would limit the Islamic republic from developing nuclear weapons.

The “historic” deal would require the regime in Teheran to destroy its 20 percent uranium and freeze the 3.5 percent stock the country has currently produced for its nuclear energy program.

The Washington Post explains that 20 percent uranium is “needed for research reactors that produce isotopes for cancer treatment and other applications, such as agricultural to enhance fertilizers.” The paper notes that this level of enrichment is “only several steps away from being boosted to weapons-grade levels at more than 90 percent.”

In return, there would be no further sanctions against Iran for at least six months, provided that the regime allows daily inspections and follows through on the destruction of the higher levels of enriched uranium.

“These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Simply put, they cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb,” said President Barack Obama in a televised statement late Saturday evening. “Meanwhile, this first step will create time and space over the next six months for more negotiations to fully address our comprehensive concerns about the Iranian program. And because of this agreement, Iran cannot use negotiations as cover to advance its program.”

Obama would’ve been better off not giving the Syria speech

Despite taking his case for intervention in Syria directly to the American people on Tuesday night, President Barack Obama has been unable to sway their elected representatives in Washington. Votes continue to pile up against a potential authorization of force should a diplomatic solution fail, largely because of the confused, contradictory case the White House continues to present.

President Obama insisted that intervention against Syria was in our nation interest, even though he once again said that Bashar al-Assad’s regime didn’t represent a threat to the United States. He all but said that Assad’s government used chemical weapons against its own people, even though the Obama Administration can’t prove who ordered the attack.

And while he claimed that strikes would be a deterrent against future use of chemical weapons, President Obama didn’t present any plan for what happens should the situation in Syria escalate. The speech was basically a glorified summary of everything that has been said since the end of August, with the added detail that there may now be a diplomatic solution.

Americans favor diplomacy over war against Syria

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama did not make a convincing case for military intervention, according a CNN poll of Americans who watched the speech on Tuesday night.

Under intense criticism from members of Congress and polls showing a lack of support from the American people, President Obama hoped that he would be able to sway public opinion by taking repeating the same talking points that had been in the next for the past few weeks in a televised address.

But the CNN poll shows that 50% of Americans believe that President Obama failed to make a convincing case for military strikes. The poll found that 47% said that he did make the case, putting the results within the margin of error.

Additionally, 58% of Americans who watched the speech say that air strikes against Syria would not achieve significant goals for the United States. There was a slight shift in the numbers on this question from the pre-speech poll of the same respondents when 66% said that air strikes be unsuccessful.

Those who believe that air strikes would accomplish the United States goals’ rose from 30% pre-speech to 36% after.

Americans are, however, more confident in the outcome of a diplomatic solution brokered by Russia, with 65% saying that such an angle is likely to resolve the dispute.

Sixty-nine percent (69%) reacted positively to President Obama’s speech, with 35% describing calling their reaction “very positive” and 34% saying it was “somewhat positive.” Though that’s still a high number, it’s down from CNN’s past post-speech favorables.

Obama fails to make the case for military intervention in Syria

Barack Obama

TL;DR version: President Obama gave a speech last night rehashing the same arguments made for military strikes against Syria. He delivered the speech well, but failed to present a compelling case for intervention, specifically saying several times that Bashar al-Assad isn’t a threat to the United States. Even as he made a specious case for intervention, Obama said that he asked Congress to postpone a vote, making it a mostly pointless speech.

In a televised address last night, President Barack Obama took his case for military intervention in Syria directly to the American people, stating that Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons is a violation of international law and is a threat to the United States’ interests in the region.

President Obama started off by offering background on the civil war that has ravaged the Middle Eastern country, noting that more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.

“I have resisted calls for military action because we cannot resolve someone else’s civil war through force, particularly after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Obama. “The situation profoundly changed, though, on August 21st, when Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people, including hundreds of children.”

President Obama emphasized the treaty banning use of chemical weapons, which the United States Senate ratified in 1997. Syria, however, is one of five countries that hasn’t approved the treaty, though they now say they will.

Liberty Links: Morning Reads for Monday, January 24th

Below is a collection of several links that we didn’t get around to writing about, but still wanted to post for readers to examine. The stories typically range from news about prominent figures in the liberty movement, national politics, the nanny state, foreign policy and free markets.


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