"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fisking the Syria "Agreement"

Here is how Reuters reports the "framework" of the U.S.-Russia Syria chemical weapons agreement, with my pink fisking in honor of Obama's "unbelievably small" stick (as opposed to TR's "Big Stick"):

The United States and Russia agreed on a "framework for elimination of Syrian chemical weapons" Saturday. Here are some key points of the agreement.

First, something called a "framework" isn't a real agreement.  It's an agreement to agree sometime in the future.   It's like a letter of intent in business transactions... there's no real deal in place, there's no final terms, there's lots of negotiation to come, and it may all fall apart, but, hey, we've got a framework for a deal.   That's something, isn't it?

■ The United States and Russia will ask the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, to approve extraordinary procedures within the next few days "for expeditious destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons program and stringent verification."

Well, apparently not.   This sure looks like we are ceding our foreign policy to something called the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.   I've never heard of that and I'm pretty certain that it isn't mentioned in the Constitution.   But they use words that sure make it sound serious... "extraordinary," "expeditious," "stringent."   So it must be something, right?

■ The U.S. and Russia will work together toward prompt adoption of a U.N. resolution enforcing the OPCW decision including steps to ensure verification and effective implementation.

Well, sadly, no... apparently we are not just ceding our foreign policy to the OPCW, we're also ceding it (yet again) to the UN.   We will "work together" with Russia to get a resolution that will "ensure verification and effective implementation."   Yeah, sure, Russia will be happy to "work together" with us, since they have already gotten what they wanted... no military strike against its client state, Syria.

Oh, and by the way... a bilateral framework, OPCW procedures, a UN resolution... what do they all have in common?   They are all pieces of paper... or, as Obama would say, they're all "just words."

■ Syria must ensure the immediate and unfettered right to inspect any and all sites in Syria.

A.  They won't do this.
B.  If they say they will do this, they'll be lying.
C.  Even if they do do this, they can't do this.   Remember: Syria is in the middle of a civil war.   They can't "ensure the... unfettered right to inspect" diddlysquat.

■ If Syria does not comply, including unauthorized transfer or use of chemical weapons by anyone in Syria, the U.N. Security Council should impose measures under a Chapter 7 resolution.

Ah, there's the rub.   Obama has been completely rolled in this thing by Putin.   What he's agreeing to is that, if Syria doesn't comply with the framework, we are bound to go to the UN to get a resolution to authorize military force (that's what a Chapter 7 resolution would entail).   But Russia would not permit this (they have a veto in the Security Council).   So this is essentially meaningless, except that if and when we ever want to use military force to keep Syria from using chemical weapons, we'd likely suffer a huge PR defeat because we'd be in violation of this agreement to seek UN approval.

Thanks, Obama!   We used to have a sovereign nation whose foreign policy would advance our interests.   Now we have to do what Putin says.   Great work!

■ Syria must submit within a week "a comprehensive listing, including names, types and quantities of its chemical weapons agents, types of munitions and location and form of storage, production and research and development facilities."

More paper.   More opportunities for Syrian/Russian mendacity.   I have an image in mind:   Kerry coming off a train or a plane, waving this "comprehensive listing" and announcing "Peace in Our Time."

■ The U.S. and Russia want the weapons to be destroyed outside Syria if possible.

Can't happen.   Transporting adds exponentially to the problems.   Invariably in these situations the protocol has been to build facilities in country to destroy CW.   So this is just a prayer.

■ Facilities for developing and making chemical weapons and weapons delivery systems must also be eliminated.

Because a country of 22 million people won't have any companies with the capacity for mixing chemicals in the ordinary course of business.   Or labs.   Or bathtubs.   Sure, that's doable.  

Look, this is a lot like the liberals' ideas on gun control and crime.   They think we can use laws and pieces of paper (licenses, registrations, more laws) and we can "verify" that we've got guns out of the hands of criminals.   But the only way to prevent crime is to have a credible deterrent... a citizenry that can defend their own homes and their own families, and armed police to react quickly to crime.
Similarly, the best way to keep Syria from using chemical weapons is to credibly threaten them with overwhelming (not "unbelievably small") punitive strikes against the regime if they are used.   Rules and regulations and bureaucrats won't do it.  But when you have an administration of academics and lawyers, that's what you get.


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