War with Syria?

“The High Contracting Parties solemnly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.”

Kellogg Briand Pact 1928

BBC News

David Cameron makes case for military action

August 29, 2013

Prime Minister David Cameron has put his case for military action against Syria to British MPs, but has conceded intelligence that the regime used chemical weapons is not “100% certain”. He told an emergency debate that UK intelligence chiefs believed it “highly likely” the Syrian government was responsible for the 21 August attack. But he said MPs must make a judgement call ahead of a Commons vote. The UK could launch strikes without UN backing, according to legal advice.

“In the end there is no 100% certainty about who is responsible.” – David Cameron

Action would be a legal “humanitarian intervention” – even if it was vetoed at the UN, the government’s summary of the advice said. Mr Cameron told MPs – who have been recalled early from their summer recess – he was convinced it was “beyond doubt” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime was behind the attack.


21:35 – UK Prime Minister David Cameron tells MPs: “It’s clear to me that the British parliament and the British people do not wish to see military action; I get that, and I will act accordingly.”

Source = BBC News

“To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Chief American prosecutor, Robert H. Jackson, 1945

Huffington Post


August 29, 2013

David Cameron ruled out UK involvement in military action against Syria after his authority and international standing were dealt a severe blow by defeat on the issue in the Commons. In what is thought to be an unprecedented parliamentary reverse over British military action, Tory rebels joined with Labour to inflict a humiliating defeat on the Prime Minister. A motion backing the use of force “if necessary” in response to last week’s deadly chemical weapons attack was rejected by 272 votes to 285, majority 13.

Cameron had already been forced to water down his stance – accepting Labour demands that direct British involvement would require a second vote following an investigation by United Nations weapons inspectors. But the concession was not enough to win over enough coalition MPs, conscious that public opinion is heavily against any intervention and wary of the decade-long controversy over the Iraq war.

After the shock result and to shouts of “resign” from the Labour benches, Cameron told MPs:

“I strongly believe in the need for a tough response to the use of chemical weapons. But I also believe in respecting the will of this House of Commons. It is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that and the Government will act accordingly.”

The result will not only dismay allies in Washington and elsewhere seeking a wide coalition of support for air strikes to punish the regime but also raise serious questions about Cameron’s leadership.

Source = Huffington Post

Washington post

August 29, 2013

British Prime Minister David Cameron loses parliamentary vote on Syria

Prime Minister David Cameron lost a preliminary vote in Parliament late Thursday on intervention in Syria, as the Obama administration prepared to present to Congress its intelligence case on the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons. The British parliamentary vote marked a stunning defeat for Cameron’s government. It came as political objections to a U.S.-led military response increased in the United States and Britain. The White House has not sought to hide a push toward missile strikes following the Aug. 21 alleged mass gassing of that killed hundreds of Syrian civilians. The United States, Britain and others have placed blame for the attack squarely on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The focus of that push shifted Thursday to politics, as lawmakers of both parties urged caution and Britain and France said they preferred to wait for the results of a United Nations investigation in Syria. An initial British intelligence report pinning blame on Assad appeared to sway few doubters. U.N. investigators will continue their on-site work Friday and leave Syria by early Saturday, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in Vienna. Inspectors had been scheduled to remain in Syria until Sunday. The inspectors will “report to me as soon as they come out,” Ban said, but it was not clear when their findings would be made public. The U.N. has made clear that the inspectors will only determine whether chemical weapons were used, not who used them.

France also prefers to wait until U.N. inspectors conclude their work and present their findings, French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said.

“Before acting, we need proof,”

Bloomberg News quoted her as saying. Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. special envoy for Syria, said Wednesday that international law requires a Security Council decision before any military action. “I do know that President Obama and the American administration are not known to be trigger-happy,” Brahimi said at a Geneva news conference. “What they will decide, I don’t know.” President Obama said in an interview with “PBS NewsHour” Wednesday evening that he has not yet made a decision, and Hagel said Thursday that any action against Syria would be an “international collaboration.”

Source = Washington Post

PBS News Hour

President Argues Case for Action in Syria

August 29, 2013

President Barack Obama may not have made a decision on how to respond to Syria’s use of chemical weapons, but he clearly is outlining a case for action. The president told the PBS NewsHour in an exclusive 27-minute interview Wednesday that there is a need for “international consequences” if everything officials suspect about what has happened in Syria under the Assad regime is true. Speaking with Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff in the Blue Room, Mr. Obama got at the heart of why the United States is accelerating its push for action:

“…[W]hen you start talking about chemical weapons in a country that has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world, where over time, their control over chemical weapons may erode, where they’re allied to known terrorist organizations that, in the past, have targeted the United States, then there is a prospect, a possibility, in which chemical weapons that can have devastating effects could be directed at us. And we want to make sure that that does not happen.”

As the interview concluded, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, sent the president a letter urging him to clearly define a mission in Syria. As Politico notes, that request could be the opening salvo in “what’s sure to be a turf battle between Congress and the White House over military intervention in the country.” Gwen and Judy spoke with Mr. Obama just after he concluded a speech at the Lincoln Memorial to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. In addition to talking about tensions with Syria and his administration’s broader approach to the region, the president reflected on economic equality and how race may have affected his ability to implement his agenda.

Source = PBS News Hour

NBC News

British Parliament votes against possible military action in Syria

August 29, 2013

The British Parliament Thursday rejected a proposal for military action in Syria — while the Obama administration said it would make its own decision on a possible strike. UK Prime Minister David Cameron indicated he won’t proceed without parliamentary approval, saying the government “will act accordingly.”

“I strongly believe in the need for a tough response in the use of chemical weapons but I also believe in respecting the will of this House of Commons,”

he said in the aftermath of his defeat. Thursday vote was nonbinding, but Cameron’s loss on even a symbolic vote likely means there will be no second-round vote next week. Facing not only the pushback from Britain but also a growing hesitation in Congress, the Obama administration insisted Thursday that any attack on Syria would be limited — and flatly rejected comparisons to the Iraq war.

As the White House prepared to make its case to lawmakers, the State Department said it was indisputable that the Syrian regime had used banned chemical weapons in its conflict with insurgents. A State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, rejected comparisons to Iraq, where supposed weapons of mass destruction were never found. She said Iraq and Syria were “in no way analogous.” President Barack Obama has said he has not decided on a military strike against Syria, which would probably come with cruise missile strikes form the Mediterranean Sea. But Harf made clear that the administration would decide its course.

“We make our own decisions and our own timeline,”

Source = NBC News


“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

Article 2, paragraph 4



“The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.”

Article 41

Source = United Nations

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