Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 8.19.14: Here's to one foreign policy success

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 8:41 AM

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It was almost exactly a year ago (August 21, 2013) that the government of Bashar al-Assad was reported to have used poison gas to kill more than 1,400 Syrians, prompting a major crisis for President Obama, who had earlier declared that if Assad dared to use such chemical weapons, he would simply "have to go."

Tough words. And rather dumb ones, too, when you think about it. Because once the U.S. and the U.N. said unequivocally that Assad had crossed that "red line," Obama was doomed to do something. Anything. But the reality was he didn't want to attack Syria militarily, and neither did the American public. Yes, John McCain, Lindsey Graham and others said he looked weak by making such a bold statement and not backing it up, but there was little support, domestically or internationally, to do so.

But was the U.S. just going to allow a rogue state to flaunt international conventions? This all got resolved, if you recall, when none other than Vladimir Putin intervened a few weeks later and negotiated with Assad to give up his weapons to the international community as long as the U.S. didn't commit air strikes. 

Well, there was a lot of skepticism that such a deal could possibly come to fruition, but yesterday the Obama administration announced that U.S. military and civilian personnel had completed the destruction of the Syrian government’s declared chemical weapon stockpile, heralding the event as a watershed moment in the Syrian conflict.

"In record time, even amid a civil war, we removed and have now destroyed the most dangerous chemicals in the regime’s declared stockpiles,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement. “But much more work must be done.”

Ending that brutal three-year civil war would be nice. But that doesn't appear to be in the cards. Nevertheless, this is an achievement for the U.S, the U.N. and the rest of the international community. President Obama has been blasted domestically and abroad for his response (or lack thereof) to the chaotic events that have happened around the globe this summer, and in some cases that criticism may be justified. 

But as far as we can tell, the international community — including outlaw Russia — came together to alleviate one of those global threats. We'll be expecting a statement congratulating the president from John McCain anytime now.....

In other news…

As the situation in Ferguson, Missouri continues into its second full week, Congressman David Jolly tells CL that he is working on legislation that would ensure that the massive (and at times intimidating) military-style equipment used by local law enforcement agencies like those in Ferguson would be operated only by officials who have been sufficiently trained to use them.

Jolly was joined by Gus Bilirakis, Dennis Ross and Kathy Castor yesterday at Tampa International Airport to sing the airport's praises. Castor also announced that the airport has just received $1 million for its master plan project that's expected to cost close to $1 billion.

And if you watched Meet The Press this past Sunday you didn't see David Gregory on the air, and you won't, probably ever again. The NBC newsman was  unceremoniously dumped by the network after a slow drip of rumors that he was being pushed out.




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