Monday, September 02, 2013

US and UK difference

Pres. Obama has decided to follow the lead of PM Cameron in the UK and to take the decision on whether or not to respond militarily to the chemical attack in Syria to Congress. This can be regarded as another example of Obama dithering in foreign policy or a triumph for democracy. But, there is a main difference between the UK and the US in this respect, Cameron is a Conservatrive and his motion to attack Syria was defeated in the vote by a coalition of the left-wing Labor opposition and Liberal Democrats from his own Government. However, in the US, Obama is a liberal Democrat and his opposition is the Republican-controlled Congress , which is far more conservative than he is. So it is very likely that while Parliament voted against intervention in Syria, Congress will vote for it and support Obama's plan.

In the debate in Parliament, the Head of the Opposition Ed Milliband, argued that there was not definitive evidence that the Assad Government forces had in fact carried out the terrible gas attack in Damascus and also that there needed to be international approval from the UN Security Council for such an attack, which was not forthcoming. In light of the sense of having been duped over the WMD debate on Iraq 10 years before, Parliament voted against the Government. There was undoubtedly a strong influence of the anti-war movement in Britain. However, in the US, the much more right-wing Congress is unlikely to be influenced by either the Iraqi precedent or the anti-war movement, and are very likely to support Obama. So in this respect, Obama's move can be regarded as smart, he gets his way and shares responsibility with Congress, a good thing and insurance in case anything goes wrong.

Who are gloating about this appearance of indecision in the western democracies? Assad, Iran and Hizbollah. Who are disconcerted by this appearaqnce of delay and lack of purpose, the rebel insurrection in Syria, and their supporters in the Sunni Arab world, notably Saudi Arabia and Turkey. In fact, the Arab League, which has not itself attacked Syria, are publicly calling for US intervention. Usually when a western nation attacks any Arab or Muslim country the Arabs unify, but here the opposite is happening. So the attack is delayed, but not cancelled. Watch this space.


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