IN AN ABC NEWS SUNDAY EXCLUSIVE, GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS GOES ONE-ON-ONE WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA IN THE LINCOLN BEDROOM OF THE WHITE HOUSE, IN HIS FIRST MAJOR SEXUAL ENCOUNTER SINCE HIS ADDRESS ON SYRIA.
THE ENCOUNTER COMES AT A PIVOTAL MOMENT IN THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY, AS HE CONFRONTS BOTH THE CRISIS IN SYRIA AND HIS INABILITY TO GET AN ERECTION AT HOME DUE TO THE COMING SHOWDOWNS WITH CONGRESS OVER THE BUDGET AND OBAMACARE. PLUS, PRESIDENT OBAMA TALKS DIRTY ECONOMY AND FAKE FINANCIAL REFORM WHILE TYING GEORGE TO THE BED.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS WILL EXPLORE “EDGING,” “PEAKING” AND “SURFING” ON PRESIDENT OBAMA AND MORE, ONLY ON “THIS WEEK” SUNDAY, FOLLOWED BY FULL ANALYSIS OF THE ENCOUNTER WITH THE “THIS WEEK” POWERHOUSE ROUNDTABLE OF DR. RUTH, DR. DREW, HUGH HEFNER AND GEORGE WILL.
Starting with Syria. Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) reports of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, “Assad is said to have given an interview to Russian television announcing his intention to cede control of the arms to the international community. He will reportedly endorse the Russian plan, and say that it was Russia’s efforts, not US threats, that led to his decision.” The spotlight is on Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin has a column in the New York Times. As Cedric‘s “He reads” and Wally‘s “THIS JUST IN! SHOCKING!” note, US Senator John McCain is outraged. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi avoids the issue of war:
Her avoidance of the topic of war is because she’s supporting it. As Joseph Mayton (The Progressive) reported earlier this week, California’s eighth district is not happy:
In the heart of San Francisco, a stone’s throw from the United Nations Plaza and the Civic Center, scores of residents gathered in front of senior Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi’s office to push for an end to what one protester said was the “war-mongering that we saw in the lead up to the Iraq war.”
For many, the calls for war are a return to the George W. Bush era of violence as an appropriate response.
To many of us in the eighth district, Nancy has morphed into The Bride of Bush. Meanwhile Zaid Jilani (Moyers & Company) notes the morphing taking place in the Republican Party:
In 2011, that started to change, when dovish Republicans like Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) took office. In his foreign policy coming-out speech at Johns Hopkins University, Paul said he would “rather send some…professors around the world than I would our soldiers” and would “rather do that than go to war with Iran.” In May, 26 Republicans voted for an amendment by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) to implement a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan that only narrowly failed. Later that year, 225 House Republicans joined 70 Democrats to reject authorizing military action in Libya after hostilities began.
Two years later, Paul took to the floor of the Senate to conduct a talking filibuster to protest the expanding use of drones. While he started virtually alone, his act of protest eventually drew enough popularity to culminate in 34 votes against the nomination of John Brennan for CIA director – with the majority of the Republican caucus, 31 senators, standing with Paul.
John McCain, Nancy Pelosi and other assorted idiots are appalled by Putin’s column. Why? Here’s the section that upset them the most:
Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization – the United Nations – was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.
The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by security council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.
No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without security council authorisation.
The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilise the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.
As Betty explained last night:
Sorry but Putin is right. Without approval from the UN Security Council, a US attack on Syria would be illegal and constitute an act of aggression — per international law.
I’m not outraged that Putin’s lecturing Barack but I do find it telling of just how awful Barack has been that Vladimir Putin is comfortable calling him out.
On the world stage, Barack is a joke and he has no one to blame but himself.
For those who may have missed how international law works, IPS analyst Phyllis Bennishas repeatedly explained explained it. We’ll include her speaking to Peter Hart on FAIR’sCounterspin two Fridays ago:
Phyllis Bennis: Only if the [United Nations] Security Council votes to endorse the use of force is the use of force legal. No other agency, institution, organization has that right. So the Kosovo precedent that you refer to and that unfortunately this is being talked about in the press. It’s being asserted that if the Security Council doesn’t agree, there are other options. Yeah, there are other options. The problem is they’re all illegal. The Kosovo model was illegal. What the US did in 1999, when it wanted to bomb, to start an air war against Serbia over Kosovo, realized it would not get support of the Security Council because Russia had said it would veto. So instead of saying, ‘Well okay we don’t have support of the Security Council, I guess we can’t do it,’ they said, ‘Okay, we won’t go to the Security Council, we’ll simply go to the NATO High Command and ask their permission.’ Well, what a surprise, the NATO High Command said ‘sure.’ It’s like the hammer and the nail. If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you’re NATO everything looks like it requires military intervention. The problem is, under international law, the UN charter is the fundamental component under international law that determines issues of war and peace. And the charter doesn’t say that the Security Council or NATO or the President of the United States can all decide over the use of force. The only agency that can legally approve the use of force is the Security Council of the United Nations. Period. Full stop.
Jon Greenberg and Louis Jacobson (PolitiFact) speak with international law experts and their conclusions are the same as Bennis’ conclusion and they point out, “The most important consequence of the United States flouting international law would likely be a loss of credibility whenever it sought to invoke international law down the road. Ignoring international law in one context makes it harder for the United States to invoke international law in other scenarios when the United States believes it furthers national interests or global security.” Bennis and Rev Jesse Jackson (Z-Net) weigh in on Barack’s speech Tuesday night:
Still, the President unfortunately reserved the right to launch a military strike if the diplomatic effort does not succeed, and we urge Congress to oppose any such military authorization.
Ann Garrison (CounterPunch) notes, “President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Prime Minister David Cameron have all by now invoked Rwanda, 1994 as reason to drop Cruise Missiles on Syria, so I spoke to Paul Rusesabagina, whose autobiography, An Ordinary Man, became the Hollywood movie Hotel Rwanda, in the interest of clarifying the invocation.” Use the link to read the transcript of her interview. Click here to visit her site where she’s posted the audio of the interview (KPFA Evening News). Yesterday, Al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor‘s Jane Arraf Tweeted some basic facts about the civil war taking place in Syria.
This afternoon, Free Speech Radio News (link is audio) reported on Syria.
Dorian Merina: As the conflict in Syria continues, efforts to find a diplomatic solution continue with US Secretary of State John Kerry arriving in Geneva, Switzerland today to begin two days of talks with Russian officials on securing and eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. But the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal report that the US has been sending shipments of weapons and other supplies to the Syrian opposition’s army at the same time it pursues these peaceful negotiations. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the US must stop threatening military force and arming the opposition in order for diplomacy to work. On Capitol Hill, FSRN’s Alice Ollstein has more.
Alice Ollstein: A United Nations spokesperson told news outlets Thursday that it has received documents from the Syrian government regarding the prospect of joining the chemical weapons convention — the first step of a Russian-backed proposal for the government of Bashar al-Assad to turn over his chemical weapons stockpiles to the international community. But in an interview with the Russian TV network Russian 24 on Thursday, Assad said the continued threat of military strikes from the United States as well as US supplied arms to the opposition could derail this diplomatic progress. White House spokesperson Jay Carney defended the arms shipment in a press conference Thursday.
Jay Carney: The President on down has said that we are — have been — stepping up our assistance to the Syrian military opposition, no question. The issue of Assad’s chemical weapons is separate from our policy response to the civil war in Syria. And that response is built around humanitarian support for the Syrian people, assistance to the opposition — including assistance to the Supreme Military Council as well as an effort with a broad range of allies and partners — including Russia — to bring about a resolution of that civil war through a political settlement because that is the only way to end that war
Alice Ollstein: But many peace advocates, international law experts and former government officials say the weapons shipments will only fan the flames of the violent conflict. Ray McGovern who worked in military intelligence for 27 years told FSRN he’s concerned the arms shipments will hurt the negotiations between Russia, Syria and the United States and so they’re also likely to prolong the fighting on the ground.
Ray McGovern: It’s chaos and so for us to be sending weapons into that calculus? Well, it’s just to give sop to the CNN crowd to say, ‘Well we’re doing what we can to help the rebels’ — al Qaeda and al Nusra, the most belligerent anti-American factions are the ones that are doing all the effective fighting. The other factions, such as they are, will either join them or give up their weapons to them or whatever. I mean this is a civil war in the most messy sense.
Meanwhile Adbusters ponders the selectivity of Barack’s outrage over chemical weapons:
The use of white phosphorus and depleted uranium in Iraq are a violation of the same international law Obama is now righteously defending. As we see the piles of dead children in Damascus, we’re reminded of the pictures of deformed babies in Fallujah, Iraq. On August 29, 2013, a decade after the US invasion of Iraq, Al Jazeera reporter Dahr Jamail points to videos of babies born in Iraq with horrendous defects and malformations. This is the legacy the morally upright US left in Iraq. Jamail says, “we are seeing a rate of congenital malformations in the city of Fallujah that has surpassed even that in the wake of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that nuclear bombs were dropped on at the end of World War II.”
Meanwhile, as Assad admits to its chemical weapons stash and considers handing it over to avoid attack, Obama still, albeit tentatively, considers striking..
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