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Please begin with an informative title:

All I have to say is that, assuming this report is accurate (and, apparently it is, based upon confirmation as noted in the update to this post, down below): So much for the 11th-Dimensional-Chess meme...

Intro

You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

French were 'hours' from military strikes on Syria before phone call from Obama

Fighter jets were preparing for scheduled take off when President Hollande took 'stunning' call from US telling him to hold fire
Anne Penketh  
Independent (UK)

Paris--

French President Francois Hollande called off military strikes against Syria on 31 August following a phone call from the US President only hours before fighter jets were set to take off, a French weekly magazine has revealed.

The report in the Nouvel Observateur shows how close the West came to launching a war on Syria over the Syrian regime’s presumed use of chemical weapons in a Damascus suburb, before Washington backed down. President Obama announced in a televised speech on 31 August, after informing a “stunned” Mr Hollande, that he would seek a Congressional vote, effectively lifting the military threat.

Rafale aircraft were readied that Saturday for take-off and official statements prepared in anticipation of the strikes, according to the Nouvel Observateur. “Everything made us think that D-Day had arrived,” a French official is quoted as saying. The magazine said that “this incredible misunderstanding lasted until the end of the afternoon,” at 6.15pm, when President Obama telephoned Mr Hollande, who was expecting to confirm the military orders just after the phone call. The strikes had been intended to start at 3am later that night, targeting missile batteries and command centres of the 4th Armoured Division in charge of chemical weapons.

But instead of confirming that the US and French military would intervene jointly, President Obama changed his mind following a conversation in the White House Rose garden with his chief of staff Denis McDonough...

(h/t Naked Capitalism)

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UPDATE 9/30/13 2:00PM: The Atlantic Wire website confirms that the White House decision to avert a Syrian strike was made at the proverbial last minute, hours before the attack was set to commence....

France Was So Close to a Syria Strike Before the U.S. Changed its Mind
Abby Ohlheiser
AtlanticWire
Sep 29, 2013

…According to the report, Hollande was hours away from authorizing the French contributions to the planned strikes, apparently scheduled for later Saturday night at 3 a.m. Believing that Obama's call would confirm the plan, Hollande set up a meeting with his war team for directly after the scheduled call. France was, in some ways, the most enthusiastic about taking action against Syria. And it sounds like France was prepared: the administration had speeches prepared to justify the action to the French people. It had a plan of action: fly jets, armed with cruise missiles, over international waters in the Mediterranean in order to avoid prompting Syria to retaliate against any of its neighbors. Because of the limitations of the French weapons, the country's targets were limited to Western Syria, including Damascus. The U.S. was going to strike the rest of the targets. On the phone with Obama, the French leader reportedly tried to get Obama to stick to the plan, but the U.S. had decided to go ahead with seeking congressional approval before a military strike. France had also prepared a declassified summary of intelligence on Syria, much as the U.S. had done, to sway skeptics on the plan.

Obama's decision to back off of a military strike on Syria was, by most reports, a last-minute one. As the U.N. inspectors cleared out of the country on Friday night, the president was still ready to go ahead and strike without congressional or international approval. After a week of deliberation, Obama overruled all of his national security advisors, made the call to France, and told the American people that Congress would approve any plan for military action in Syria…


Bold type is diarist's emphasis.

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Observation: Contrary to those in the community that wish to dumb-down the conversation into a "Rox"-"Sux" faux debate now, and as you'll note in some of the comments, below (which usually accomplishes little more than promoting hyperpartisan spin over facts), this is really about documentation of historical facts. One, five, and/or ten years (and in future generations) from now, historians will point to documented facts to discuss this story.


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