Monday, September 9, was planned as a day for the White House to persuade Congress to support military strikes on Syria. The highlight of the day's "persuade Congress" plan was a White House appearance by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
After a luncheon meeting with President Obama, Clinton pledged her every effort to gain "yes" votes from Congress for a military attack.
Midway through her statement she had to shift, however, from attack mode to peace mode. A rapid series of "surprise" developments swept through London, Moscow and Damascus before dark in Washington Monday.
We may not know until the tell-all book on President Obama's second term is published. But it sure looks like the Obama team spent this past weekend changing its "persuade Congress" plan to a "further pause for peace" plan.
Whatever it was, something led to the weekend shift in White House plans.
The Obama team had read the polls. It was obvious that the majority of the American public wanted no part of more U.S. military presence in the Middle East. Members of Congress read the same polls.
At first only the most hard line pro-Israel members of the House and Senate raised their hands to give a yes vote for an attack. A strange assortment of Republicans, Democrats, progressives and conservatives lifted their hands to defiantly vote no to an attack.
Against such odds, it is rare for AIPAC, Israel's chief Washington lobbying team, to go all out in support of a vote it was going to lose. But AIPAC must have been hearing from Tel Aviv. Israel's government wanted that military strike.
In Israel's view, the greatest threat to its own security -- or as some see it, to its military control of the Middle East -- runs from the road to Damascus straight through to Teheran, the place where Israel wants to convince the world Iran is building its own stockpile of nuclear weapons.
If Iran has plans to develop a nuclear arsenal, and it denies that it does, it would take decades to catch up to the stockpile of nuclear weapons Israel has stored away in a secure desert hiding place.
AIPAC threw its usual caution to the wind and turned up the heat on Congress for a "yes" vote in support of a strike. It did not work, not even with Hillary Clinton leading the charge.
It was time for the White House to give peace a chance.
The shift from "persuade Congress" to another Obama "pause for peace" was launched in London Monday morning when Secretary of State John Kerry made what he attempted to pass off as an off-handed remark.
How off-handed a remark would a U.S. Secretary of State toss to a hungry band of journalists just hours before the U.S. Congress is set to debate an air strike? It is quite possible the Secretary knew exactly what he was doing, deliberately setting in motion a series of events toward the easing of tensions between the U.S and Syria.
The series of events reads like a Hollywood script that moves far too fast to be plausible. But they happened.
Monday's events may have been purely random, events that started like a snowball rolling downhill after a morning speech by Secretary of State Kerry and ending with an history-changing Monday night announcement by Senate leader Harry Reid that he was postponing a Senate vote because of events of the day.
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