Black text in Times New Roman font represents original documentary material.
Red text in Ariel font represents commentary by Dr. Smith.
Black text in Times New Roman highlighted in yellow represents key sections of the original documentary material.
The following document for two reasons - first, it is referred to explicitly in Secretary Kerry's remarks to the Senate Armed Services Committee, but more importantly because, from what I can tell, this is the "law of the land" at present with regards to foreign relations with Syria - as such it fundamentally defines the limits of action President Obama may take with regards to Syria unless it presents a clear and immediate danger to the United States or its formal allies (at least within the context of American law).
(21) On May 6, 2002, the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, John Bolton, stated: `The United States also knows that Syria has long had a chemical warfare program. It has a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin and is engaged in research and development of the more toxic and persistent nerve agent VX. Syria, which has signed but not ratified the [Biological Weapons Convention], is pursuing the development of biological weapons and is able to produce at least small amounts of biological warfare agents.'.
The articles in this section of the bill are important in that they specifically develop a case that Syria was developing, manufacuturing, and stockpiling chemical weapons and delivery systems for these weapons in opposition of both American interests and the will of the interstate community with the specific implication that these policies are unacceptable - though the general tenor seems to lean towards policies of nondiscourse rather than forcible disarmament. It is also worth noting that Russia is already implicated in these
(3) how the United States is increasing its efforts against Hizballah and other terrorist organizations supported by Syria. (b) FORM- The report submitted under subsection (a) shall be in unclassified form but may include a classified annex.
Source: The White House / Office of the Press Secretary
Note that Geneva 2 is the working name for the next round of talks aimed at generating a conclusion to the Syrian rebellion - it has been repeatedly delayed due to developments in the crisis and different parties walking away from the talks.
We’ve discussed all aspects of the crisis in Syria. The position of the United Kingdom, following our parliamentary vote 10 days ago is well known, and the government – as you know, in the government, we fully respect the decision made by the House of Commons. But our objectives and efforts between the UK and the U.S. remain closely aligned in four areas in particular: first, working to create the conditions for a Geneva 2 peace process that can lead to a transitional government in Syria; secondly, addressing the desperate humanitarian situation; third, supporting the moderate Syrian opposition and saving lives on the ground; and fourth, mustering a strong international response to the use of chemical weapons.
And our special relationship with the UK is not just about Syria, it’s not just about a response to this humanitarian crisis. It’s also about the future, in many ways, on climate change, and particularly on economic prosperity for all of our people. We’re not only – we are both committed to trying to move forward on a trade relationship to grow jobs for our people. And we are not only each other’s largest investors in each of our countries, one to the other, but the fact is that every day almost one million people go to work in America for British companies that are in the United States, just as more than one million people go to work here in Great Britain for American companies that are here. So we are enormously tied together, obviously. And we are committed to making both the U.S.-UK and the U.S.-EU relationships even stronger drivers of our prosperity.
For me, this has the potential to be very compelling, save for the fact that this information is not being independently confirmed - evidence transparency is a huge part of the reason the following arguments are not being accepted - Iraq created a fool-me-once attitude and the costs are being reaped here.
The now famous, or infamous, "off the cuff" remark - which of course either (1) was planted as a result of early-stage Russo-American discussions, (2) was truly off-the-cuff, giving Russia the opportunity to make room for the Syrian regime to avoid intervention that might have toppled the regime, or (3) was something being discussed that, rather than being planted, was accidently bounced before the US had the opportunity to spin it more effecitvely.
Yes. Everyone is literally saying that. Though when I say it, I keep thinking of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, not our own. Still, nothing to smile about.
MODERATOR: Michael Gordon from The New York Times.
The Russian Solution - apparently accepted already by the Syrian regime, but is this sincere? If it is sincerely, is it feasible? I'm inclined to think it is sincere, but the feasibility depends upon the UN and Russia doing a number of things that have never happened before - that said, if Russian troops with sky blue helmets are surrounding the facilities in a couple weeks AND Russian conventional arms shipments spike in the same period (maybe on the same planes) I would be Jack's complete lack of surprise.
A lot of the Russian statements look like this - the inference is clearly a jab at the US, reflecting a different way of doing business, so to speak - the Russians are really saying here that they have control over their proxies and it is time for the United States to get control over their proxies - not an entirely equivalent task, but then again reflecting decades of interaction history.
Here it is, kids - this is the Russian line in the sand - no intervention. The Russians want al-Asad, they want their ports, in large part because they want their influence preserved at the interstate level - after all their real leverage over non-neighboring polities, as a commentator on BBC mentioned this morning, lay almost exclusively these days in its energy exports and its key role in intergovernmental organizations.
The American "red-line" - the Americans want to preserve the taboo of weapons of mass destruction - to do this they must see Syria punished effectively, otherwise risk demonstration effect. The problem of course is that to do this they must undermine another taboo, the use of offensive warfare without UN Security Council approval, which of course undermines Russian and Chinese confidence in the organ, encouraging them to pursue policies which might undermine, again, the taboo of weapons of mass destruction. Lose/lose. . . meaning the US must attempt to achieve the least-worst outcome.
If we choose not to act, we will be sending a message to Iran of American ambivalence, American weakness. It will raise the question – I’ve heard this question. As Secretary of State as I meet with people and they ask us about sort of our long-term interests and the future with respect to Iran, they’ve asked me many times, “Do you really mean what you say? Are you really going to do something?” They ask whether or not the United States is committed, and they ask us also if the President cuts a deal will the Congress back it up? Can he deliver? This is all integrated. I have no doubt – I’ve talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday – Israel does not want to be in the middle of this. But we know that their security is at risk and the region is at risk.
The Syria Accountability Act (in full above) Kerry opines upon here is the working instrument of American domestic law. And he is right - it calls Syria everything but a sweetheart. But it also falls short of statments about the use of force, which of course is a matter of some significance.
This is it - the chance to put international observers on the ground and bring Syria into the chemical weapons interstate regime. The fact that it has support by the People's Republic of China is no small thing either - that puts even further pressure on Russia to make sure Syria abides. Still, this does only (maybe) deal with that one issue of the Syrian crisis.
Right off the bat assume any resolution that might pass the Security Council without a veto will lack both the first and of these elements - the fourth will only have a chance of passing into resolution if it remains extremely ambiguous.
Ah, but that is the question - the fact that they were used is secondary to who used them.
Again - no transparency - we're being asked to take it on the administration's word.
Hugely important - this is a matter of deterrence not only in the present moment but in future moments.
One of the paragraphs that clearly annoyed Mr. Putin.
Many of you have asked a broader question: Why should we get involved at all in a place that's so complicated and where, as one person wrote to me, those who come after Assad may be enemies of human rights?
For me this is the biggest win of the speech - we knew the window was broken, and Asad may not be admitting to breaking it, but he has admitted he owns a bat and ball and that he should probably only play baseball at the park from now on. Something - not everything, but something.
Face-saving - avoid an unnecessary partisan act that could undermine American negotiating power and make the next few months major debates even more unpleasant.
The American exceptionalism remark that clearly upset Mr. Putin.
That's what makes America different. That's what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.
I have requested permission to reprint this, but until I receive it (or not at all, I suppose, if I don't get such premission) I recommend checking out the original document on The New York Times' website.