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Obama Pauses Again; Peace Wins, AIPAC Loses

By       Message James Wall       (Page 2 of 3 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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Or was it planned, this shift to peace from John Kerry in London to a proposal by Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister that was quickly adopted by officials in Syria, leaders in Britain, France, and the United Nations?

President Obama told PBS that he had earlier talked to President Putin during the G20 conference held in Russia. The picture above of the President was taken by AFP at the Conference. The picture comes from  Ha'aretz. Were seeds planted there for the Monday plan shift?

Of course, there have been few reports of many positive exchanges between Obama and Putin of late. So were these Monday events serendipitous? Might they have been another event on the road to Damascus like the one the Scriptures tell us happened to change the life of Paul of Tarsus?

Or, for the less religiously inclined readers, was the plan shift purely pragmatic, planned by Obama when a congressional rejection of an air strike became imminent?

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Whatever lay behind the moment when Harry Reid postponed the Senate vote, the New York Times tells us what events led to Reid's decision:

"Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said Monday evening that he would not take the procedural steps to force an initial vote on authorization of force Wednesday, slowing Senate consideration of the resolution.

"A senior Democratic aide that the developments with the Russian proposal were a significant factor in the delay, which will allow members to consider the plan and also hear from the president, who is scheduled to meet with them at the Capitol on Tuesday in advance of his nationally televised speech to explain his rationale for military force.

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"Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, made the proposal that could avert a strike earlier in the day, seizing on a seemingly offhand remark by Secretary of State John F. Kerry. Traveling in Britain, Mr. Kerry said that Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, could avoid strikes by agreeing to give up his chemical weapons.

"'He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week -- turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow the full and total accounting,' Mr. Kerry said.

"Mr. Kerry's remarks, especially the reference to the short window of time, underscored the urgency of the administration's preparations for a strike, and it did not appear to signal a shift in policy. The State Department's spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, later clarified in an e-mail to reporters that Mr. Kerry was simply 'making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons he has denied using.'

"But Mr. Lavrov followed up on the idea, with a proposal that offered a compromise that could avert an American-led strike in response to a poison-gas attack near Damascus last month.

"Officials in Syria embraced the idea, as did Britain, France, the United Nations and even some Republican lawmakers in Washington."

Jerusalem's Ha'aretz  made sure its readers were aware that President Obama still has some doubts over what may emerge from the Kerry/Lavrov proposal. As Obama likes to say, "nothing in life is ever certain."

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"U.S. President Barack Obama said Monday that while the Russian proposal to put Syria's chemical weapons under international control is 'potentially positive,' his administration is looking at it with skepticism.

"'I think you have to take it with a grain of salt initially,' he told NBC Nightly News in an interview. 'This represents a potentially positive development,' he said, adding that Secretary of State John Kerry would explore with Russia how serious the offer is.

"Obama gave six television interviews on Monday, and was due to visit the Capitol on Tuesday to make his case to lawmakers from both parties before making a televised address from the White House in the evening. The media blitz was meant to turn up the pressure on Congress to support U.S. military action in Syria.

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James Wall served as a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois, from 1999 through 2017. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced (more...)

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