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View Diary: Luck? Farce? Nth-dimensional Chess? No, No, No - This IS Diplomacy. (418 comments)

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    •  It was a foregone eventuality because Obama (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, native, caul

      was (is) on the ropes domestically and he desperately needs an out because of the corner he painted himself into.  The Congress was balking and the country at large, even under the assumption that the attacks were sponsored by Assad himself, is overwhelmingly underwhelmed by the prospect of yet another US vigilante expedition.

      The official WH line is that this opening could not have occurred without the real threat of military repercussions, but 1)such a threat was, at the point of the Russian proposal, much diminished by virtue of the extremely weak support for the AUMF in Congress, and 2) we'll likely find out before too long that it wasn't a  Minuteman stick but a very large carrot proffered to Putin, of an as yet undetermined size and cost to us, that prompted the Ruskies to twist Assad's arm.

      My money's on the prospect that it's a multifaceted carrot, one facet being that we won't be fussing any more (officially, at least) about all that soon-to-be-inconsequential LBGT/Olympics "silliness."  I'm still scratching my head about how Snowden's fate will be entwined in this, or if that makes any sense at all.  But I bet that such considerations aren't even the beginning of what Obama had to trade for the Syrian breakthrough.  Big carrot.

      "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi // Question: "succeed" at what?

      by nailbender on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 11:42:10 AM PDT

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      •  Putin's "carrots" (10+ / 0-)

        Reportedly the carrots (and the stick) came from the Saudi's, not Obama.  And the WH is right about the military threat, but that stick wasn't for Putin, it was for Assad, who would otherwise not necessarily be amenable to the Russian's suggested solution.

        “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

        by Catte Nappe on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 12:06:16 PM PDT

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        •  The word "reportedly" should be a link (0+ / 0-)
          •  OK (4+ / 0-)

            “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

            by Catte Nappe on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 06:08:55 PM PDT

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            •  Wow, thank you. Didn't expect that. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Catte Nappe

              Cheers.

              That was a very interesting story. And if true, it doesn't bode well for the new narrative of Obama masterminding this whole thing to get Assad to give up his WMD.

              It strongly suggests that the name of the game for the Obama state dept is still regime change - unless you think the Saudis are acting independently of the WH, which is highly unlikely. But not impossible.

            •  "Reportedly," would seem to be the key (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Catte Nappe

              word. Went looking for more on that supposed story and found a couple denials by Moscow and this piece by the Christian Science Monitor which questions the "zombie- like" story's assumptions.

              Did the Saudis offer to pay Russia to back off on Syria?

              Recurring reports indicate they offered oil and arms deals if Russia would stop backing Assad – but the Kremlin has little reason to accept.

              By Fred Weir, Correspondent / August 27, 2013

              http://www.csmonitor.com/...

              There is something in us that refuses to be regarded as less than human. We are created for freedom - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

              by Onomastic on Wed Sep 11, 2013 at 04:00:56 AM PDT

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              •  Wheels within wheels (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Onomastic

                When I first read that info it was from an original source that has its own agenda. The article I linked mentions it.

                A more detailed version has since appeared in the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, which has Hezbollah links and is hostile to the Saudis.
                No telling what the "truth" of it all is, let alone what the m0tives of the varous parties are.

                Long article in the WSJ on what they think the Saudi's are up to

                Officials inside the Central Intelligence Agency knew that Saudi Arabia was serious about toppling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad when the Saudi king named Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud to lead the effort.
                A generation ago, Prince Bandar, in a role foreshadowing his current one on behalf of Syrian opposition, helped the CIA arm the Afghan rebels who were resisting occupation by Soviet troops.

                Arab diplomats said that in meeting with Russian officials this summer, the prince delivered the same message he gave the Soviets 25 years ago: that the kingdom had plenty of money and was committed to using it to prevail.

                http://online.wsj.com/...

                Yet, this morning on the Diane Rehm show, one of the panelists (Nicholas Burns politics professor, Harvard University and senior foreign affairs columnist, Global Post; former under secretary of state?) said the US and Russia had been talking about this "new" plan to deal with Syrian CWD for months, or even up to a year.

                And, as the WSJ article notes - besides all these varous factions and agendas at play, we've got our own internal factions.

                Meanwhile, an influential protégé, current Saudi Ambassador to Washington Adel al-Jubeir, is leading a parallel campaign to coax Congress and a reluctant Obama administration to expand the U.S. role in Syria.
                Not everyone in the Obama administration is comfortable with the new U.S. partnership with the Saudis on Syria. Some officials said they fear it carries the same risk of spinning out of control as an earlier project in which Prince Bandar was involved—the 1980s CIA program of secretly financing the Contras in Nicaragua against a leftist government.

                “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

                by Catte Nappe on Wed Sep 11, 2013 at 08:20:35 AM PDT

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                •  Thanks for the extra info, Catte. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Catte Nappe

                  That is something I always appreciate and doubly so in a situation like this where there are so many players and moving parts.

                  I caught parts of the President's various interviews Monday night and in one of them he said that he and Putin had been discussing this "new" plan since last year.

                  Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

                  There is something in us that refuses to be regarded as less than human. We are created for freedom - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

                  by Onomastic on Wed Sep 11, 2013 at 03:32:29 PM PDT

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      •  honestly (10+ / 0-)

        i don't think the polls matter as much on this issue to the president. it's not like he's running for reelection and i doubt the public would shit on the guy for too long over a cruise missile strike they disagreed with.

        as long as the intervention doesn't turn into something bigger, people would in general forget about it after a year or so.

        anyone born after the McDLT has no business stomping around acting punk rock

        by chopper on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 12:06:23 PM PDT

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        •  The key issue is speed. (0+ / 0-)

          The general belief among those who had been pushing for the intervention is that this is nothing more than a stalling tactic.  The thought being the longer the delay, the less likely an attack gets.  France has now put the ball in the other court, putting forward an extremely harsh disarmament bill demanding immediate compliance, full disclosure to and destruction of the weapons by the UN, and accountability for the perpetrators of the attack, with "extremely severe consequences" (aka, UN-legitimized strikes) if Syria fails to comply.  So now it's Russia and Syria's job to try to weaken it.

          If the talks break down, the US and France retain an ability to strike by saying, "See, it was just a stalling tactic - he now admits to having chemical weapons, but still refuses to let them actually be destroyed!"  They get no UN backing but remain in at least as good of a position as they were before.  Obama probably picks up a few votes in congress.

          If a resolution goes through, Syria only avoids strikes if they actually comply quickly, immediately, full destruction of all their chem weapons (their primary method of MAD), and can convince any international tribunals that the person(s) who ordered the attack weren't Assad (because clearly he won't hand himself over).  If they fail, then the strikes get carried out, but this time, UN backing (or, even if the trigger gets removed from the resolution, at least a much greater sense of authority).  In the case of UN backing, even the UK would likely end up part of the campaign.

          Já þýðir já. Nei þýðir nei. Hvað er svona erfitt við það?

          by Rei on Wed Sep 11, 2013 at 05:45:48 AM PDT

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      •  What was not the foregone eventuality is Russians (5+ / 0-)

        coming up with the proposal actually acceptable to both US and Assad. As for the carrots, Obama said long time ago that US was going to participate in Olympics. And what exactly could US offer to Russia on Snowden? He's already there. There may very well be other carrots involved, it's almost always the case.

      •  ??? We aren't fussing about hte Olympics (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MichaelNY, caul

        I mean, some people in this country are making an issue of it -- but the US gov't isn't. Not to mention the fact that the US Olympic Cmte is supposed to be immune from political influence.

        Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

        by FischFry on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 12:34:12 PM PDT

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      •  I don't believe this argument that Obama was (19+ / 0-)

        somehow painted in a corner and this was his only way out.

        If you come in believing he's an idiot, Kerry is an idiot and they can't do anything then I guess it makes sense.

        But if you believe they are intelligent, very capable of planning and strategy, and they're not evil warmongers, then I can totally see this being a potential endgame.

        I'm not saying they planned it the whole way, but the way this went down so quickly and beautifully when there might not have even been the chance to strike makes me think that they must have had hints that this could happen from the beginning.

        I don't see why this viewpoint is any more unlikely than the "Obama painted himself into a corner and got lucky" viewpoint.

        When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

        by PhillyJeff on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 12:53:01 PM PDT

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        •  You think the AUMF is a done deal? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          3goldens, native, caul

          If not, how is he not in a self painted corner?

          Do you think their endgame included being cold-shouldered by Congress?

          "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi // Question: "succeed" at what?

          by nailbender on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 01:21:31 PM PDT

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        •  What matters are the results, not the process. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PhillyJeff

          Diplomacy is complicated and messy. It involves bluff and compromise. It may be that Obama and Kerry were bungling the process and finally got lucky. Or it may be that Obama (less likely Kerry) knew what he was doing all along. Frankly all I care about is that we are returning o diplomacy rather than immediately plunging into a potentially disastrous war.

          •  I think Lance said what I wanted to say (0+ / 0-)

            Maybe they totally messed this up - I really don't know.

            But I don't see why it's totally implausible that Obama and Kerry and their team had multiple endgames and this was one of them. Personally, I think they wanted the threat of force on the table to see if they could get a solution like this, but they would have attacked Syria if Russia didn't budge.

            Even if they didn't mean for this to happen, I give them a ton of credit for recognizing the situation as it happened and maneuvering to get basically the best result possible. Bush certainly wouldn't have done that.

            Maybe they never had the votes, but I think an authoritarian like Putin might assume that Obama could get what he wants, who knows.

            I don't see why we can't just give Obama and his team credit if this works out. Why do we have to assume they're bumbling fools and just got lucky?

            When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

            by PhillyJeff on Wed Sep 11, 2013 at 11:35:30 AM PDT

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      •  another thing motivating Russia? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caul

        The carrots you mention may well be important.  But I speculate that behind the scenes, Russia has been anxious to get Syria's chemical weapons secured so that they don't get into the wrong hands (eg. Dagestani rebels).  Russia, because of its ties to Syria, did not want to be party to a UN resolution and hoped England, the US and other nations would take care of it.  When England fell by the wayside, and no other nation besides the US seemed to be stepping up, and THEN Obama sent this authorization to the US Senate and house to die, Russia suddenly liked the idea previously discussed with the US of getting Syria to put their chemical weapons under international control.

        Defund Koch industries

        by machiado on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 08:53:19 PM PDT

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      •  Advantages for the Russians: (0+ / 0-)

        Russia receives some credit as a peacemaker; US does not enter war on side of the rebels; if Assad falls, his chem weapons do not fall into hands of jihadists, who would transfer them to Chechen and Daghestani terrorists; if Assad survives (holding on to a reduced rump state comprising Damascus/Latakia area, where the Alewites are concentrated) Russians could still keep their naval base at Tartus; increased likelihood Obama will resume diplomacy with Iran rather than rush to join Israel in attack on Iran for developing nuclear capacity.

        There will be some grumbling that Russia gains these advantages, but note that they're all things the US (with the exception of John McCain) could live with.  

    •  This was reported at the time. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Timaeus, MichaelNY

      From 4 days ago.

      http://www.npr.org/...

      I heard the initial report on NPR, except the tone was very much like we are talking about now, that the conversation was Oval Office diplomacy.

      It was then immediately ignored by MSM because it didn't fit the narrative that Obama was bungling everything up, and became the above narrative, ignoring the initial instinct that he   and Putin were having a serious conversation.

      And it was also reported at Daily Kos yesterday. Well, not reported, but mentioned anyway.

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      and here

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      shameless on my part, I know, but what the hay.

      The place was utterly dark—the oubliette, as I suppose, of their accursed convent.

      by bastrop on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 03:40:36 PM PDT

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      •  Yeah, good comment. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bastrop, MichaelNY

        FWIW, I've been on the Sux side for a long time, based on my opposition to the drone war, among other things.

        But here I shift to the Rox side.

      •  Hmm... interesting... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bastrop, MichaelNY
        Obama and Hollande discussed strategy during a meeting on the sidelines of the summit Friday. The U.S. president also held a surprise meeting with Putin, one that Putin initiated with some small talk during a break in Friday morning's summit session. A senior administration official said the two leaders, who have a strained relationship, eventually moved to a corner, pulled together their chairs and talked for about 20 to 30 minutes as other summit participants looked on. The official was not authorized to describe the meeting publicly and spoke only the condition of anonymity.

        Both Obama and Putin later said their conversations were candid, but yielded no new agreement on Syria.

        Or did it???  Enquiring minds wnat to know...

        Good catch.

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