When the Berlin Wall fell and the end of communism came shortly afterwards, everyone thought the ‘cold war’ was over, for a while it seemed a new enlightenment was the order of the day.
Sadly, we seem to be falling back into old habits, China and Russia on one side, the US, UK and France the other, we should have seen the end of the ‘proxy war’ a long time ago.
Syria is a problem; it was a problem before and remains a problem now.
President Obama made much of the ‘red line’ issue regarding chemical weapons, and in a sense he is right, where it all goes sideways, is the application and the question of guilt.
As a kid, I saw America as the world policeman, stepping in where others feared to tread, there was successful interventions and utter failures on their foreign policies.
I can never understand why the Americans never fixed their problem with Cuba right on their doorstep; trade solves a lot of problems. Perhaps one day someone will take the bold step forward and start talks.
The US has ramped up the pressure for military action, too soon, too gung ho and the stick issue of evidence is firmly fixed in the minds of everyone.
We in the West cannot bomb Syria, in fact we need a new strategy; the current one is nonsense, doesn’t work and doesn’t sit well with anyone. When David Cameron decided after the Commons defeat to go with aid, it was a ray of light, but we need more. 2 million people are homeless, the country doesn’t function and the collapse of government cannot be allowed by the West.
Yes, a mistake was made, we therefore should recognise it and hold our hands up, we have backed the Free Syrian Army, the problem is that Al Qaeda is now involved, are we seriously going to bomb targets on their behalf?
The French seemed to be a bit gung ho at the start, a mistake; evidence was the order of the day; that never changes regardless of what language you speak.
France will put a resolution to the UN Security Council to place Syria's chemical weapons under international control so they can be destroyed, the Syrian Government protests their innocence, and I struggle with the idea that they would use chemical weapons on their own people. So many people have doubts and those doubts are a real concern, we cannot afford to get this matter wrong. So many countries put trust in US/UK and France to show leadership.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says the resolution would threaten "extremely serious" consequences if Syria breached its conditions, there is no need for rhetoric here, we are on a different playing field. The move follows Russia's announcement of a plan to put the chemical weapons under international control. It is the smart diplomatic move, our Russian cousins are having a blinder of a year on the political stage, if someone is doing an award; Putin is in the perfect place to hoover up awards by the barrow load.
Syria has said it accepts the Russian proposal, though details are sketchy, they can be finalised, but rather than leaving out the US, they should be at the table; this is ‘our problem’!
And we should be solving our problems.
No one is sitting on the bench here; everyone is on the playing field.
President Obama said the Russian proposal could be a breakthrough, but that he remained skeptical, fair enough, but he has access to the US State Department, he should place a bit of faith in others.
As to the outrage in Damascus on 21 August that killed 1,429 people, this is a war crime, we cannot give up finding the truth of who did it and whoever was responsible, they should face trial.
On Tuesday, the Arab League signalled its support for the Russian initiative, this shows that the sands of time favour a more diplomatic route, we can’t go blundering about in the dark, we need a united Security Council.
According to a survey by the Associated Press news agency, 61% of Americans want Congress to vote against authorisation for military strikes.
At the recent G20, despite trying to get agreement, it wasn’t a success from the American side, obviously lessons need to be learned, it is a new world; slipping back into the cold war mentality has had its day.
We need tough action, but we need evidence, Obama has been thrown a lifeline, he should recognise this and act accordingly.
The House of Commons called it right, David Cameron thought he would get a quick okay and it was off to the arsenal to load up, surprisingly MPs said no, a good healthy sign, a lot of things can be replaced, but people are unique and we shouldn’t go to war on a whim.
The buck stops here as Harry S Truman famously said, and people’s lives are at stake, it costs nothing to be diligent.
President Obama needs to step up to the plate.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University