Secretary of State John Kerry today said he welcomed the supposedly strong statement from the European Union on Bashar al-Assad’s chemical-weapons use in Syria — but he must have been reading some other publication. The EU could barely assign blame for the attack to Assad’s forces, and urged the US to stop acting unilaterally and get back to the United Nations:
The European Union agreed on Saturday that the Aug. 21 chemical attack outside Damascus appears to have been the work of Syria‘s regime, but that any potential military attack against it should wait for a U.N. inspectors’ report.
After meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the EU ministers ended days of division on the issue with a common statement that the available intelligence “seems to indicate strong evidence that the Syrian regime is responsible for the attack,” EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said.
The EU nations, most of which have been skeptical on a quick retaliatory strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, underscored “the need to move forward with addressing the Syrian crisis through the U.N. process,” Ashton said.
The Washington Post heard it a little differently, though:
European foreign ministers on Saturday endorsed a “clear and strong response” to a chemical weapons attack that strongly points to the Syrian government, but they urged the U.S. to delay possible military action until U.N. inspectors report their findings.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, trying to make the Obama administration’s case for a strike, thanked the European Union for a “strong statement about the need for accountability.”
The “clear and strong response” advised was through the UN, however — and the need to wait for the inspector report is a pretty clear dig at the rush Obama is making to start bombing Syria. One has to read down several paragraphs in the Post’s report to find this out:
Information from a wide variety of sources confirmed the chemical attack, according to the statement, and “seems to indicate strong evidence that the Syrian regime is responsible” as it is the only party “that possesses chemical weapons agents and the means of their delivery in a sufficient quantity.”
The statement said a “clear and strong response is crucial to make clear that such crimes are unacceptable and that there can be no impunity.” But at the same time, the statement said the EU backs the need to address the crisis through the U.N. process.
The EU said it hoped a preliminary report of the investigation can be released as soon as possible and welcomed French President Francois Hollande’s statement Friday to wait for this report before any further action is taken.
As mentioned in an earlier post, Hollande has his own reasons for waiting. Sixty-eight percent of French voters oppose military action in Syria, and for very good reasons. The last Western intervention in the region created a failed state in Libya, which directly led to a need for French military intervention in Mali to keep the terrorist networks freed to operate openly by Moammar Qaddafi’s fall from seizing control of the former French colony. The French electorate apparently perceives the risks of doing the same thing all over again in Syria. Too bad that the Obama administration seems to be alone in missing that parallel.
This brings us to the hilarity of the EU insisting that Barack Obama stop acting like a cowboy unilateralist. Isn’t this the same team that spent 2007-8 insisting that we had to act only with the approval of the United Nations? Obama blasted George Bush for proceeding with the invasion of Iraq without it, even though Bush could rightly claim a coalition of dozens of contributing nations for a full-scale invasion. Obama can only get the French for just some limited airstrikes, and maybe not even them. Now it’s internationalists like Obama claiming that the UN Security Council is nothing but “hocus pocus,” and Samantha Power calling the UN “paralyzed” and not even worth approaching.
Of course, these aren’t the brightest bulbs on the Christmas tree when it comes to international relations, anyway. Allahpundit posted this in the Green Room yesterday, but it’s worth pulling out again in the context of the EU’s demand that the US engage at the UN. If this is the candlepower we have operating in Turtle Bay, small wonder we only have France on our side at the moment:
Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, hoped that a team of UN investigators — many of whom, presumably, have a longstanding relationship with Iranian leaders — could write a report that would convince Iran to abandon its ally at the behest of the United States.
“We worked with the UN to create a group of inspectors and then worked for more than six months to get them access to the country on the logic that perhaps the presence of an investigative team in the country might deter future attacks,” Power said at the Center for American Progress as she made the case for intervening in Syria.
“Or, if not, at a minimum, we thought perhaps a shared evidentiary base could convince Russia or Iran — itself a victim of Saddam Hussein’s monstrous chemical weapons attacks in 1987-1988 — to cast loose a regime that was gassing it’s people,” she said.
Excuse me, but perhaps Power missed where Iran is trying to make nuclear weapons to wipe out Israel and take control of the Muslim world. The Iranians aren’t going to dump their strategic partner in the proxy war with Israel over some spilled Sarin. I’d be surprised if Iran’s favored terrorist group Hezbollah doesn’t have some access to those weapons themselves. Anyone who thought that there was even a theoretical possibility of this happening should never step outside a lecture hall; anyone who bases American foreign policy on it should never step outside an MSNBC studio.