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  • Russia's Putin shines at Valdai summit as he castigates West

    09/20/2013 11:37:01 AM PDT · by kronos77 · 23 replies
    And in an opening speech devoted to Russian values, he castigated the West for losing touch with its Christian roots when it came to gender questions. Mr Putin said that "one-gender families" and exaggerated political correctness were leading countries into degradation and a deepening moral crisis. One Austrian professor challenged him on this and asked for a guarantee that minority values would be respected in Russia and not subject to harassment. Mr Putin denied there were any laws in Russia to punish sexual minorities for their orientation. The Russian law which had caused so much controversy was, he said, simply...
  • Iran confirms Rouhani and Obama letter exchange

    09/17/2013 9:40:11 AM PDT · by mojito · 10 replies
    JPost ^ | 9/17/2013 | Unattributed
    Iran said on Tuesday that President Hassan Rouhani had exchanged letters with US President Barack Obama, confirming a rare contact between leaders of the two nations at loggerheads over Iran's nuclear program, the Syrian war and other issues. The United States and Iran cut off formal diplomatic ties in 1980, shortly after students and Islamic militants stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and took American diplomats hostage. [....] Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said on Tuesday that Obama had sent Rouhani a message of congratulations on the occasion of his election. "This letter has been exchanged," Afkham said, according...
  • Syria’s plan to give up its chemical weapons could make things worse, not better

    09/10/2013 5:01:03 PM PDT · by mojito · 23 replies
    WaPo ^ | 9/10/2013 | Max Fisher with Michael Doran
    Few people depress me these days like Michael Doran. A Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution, Doran has been a leading advocate among thoughtful foreign policy analysts for a more aggressive U.S. intervention to end the conflict in Syria. Agree or disagree with that policy (I’m not sure I do, personally), it’s left him especially skeptical of the Obama administration’s push for limited strikes against Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons. When Russia seized on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s offhand suggestion that Syria could avoid U.S. strikes by giving up its chemical weapons, I reacted,...
  • U.S. Won’t Insist U.N. Resolution Threaten Force on Syria, Officials Say

    09/13/2013 2:58:28 PM PDT · by sunmars · 53 replies
    WASHINGTON — President Obama will not insist on a United Nations resolution threatening to use force to ensure that Syria lives up to its commitment to turn over chemical weapons, but will seek other tangible consequences for Syria if it does not comply, senior administration officials said Friday. Although Mr. Obama reserves the right to order a punitive military strike on his own without United Nations backing if Syria reneges, the officials said he understood that Russia, because of its veto power in the Security Council, would never allow a resolution that authorized such a use of force. France, which...
  • John Kerry on Syria: how a gaffe could stop a war

    09/10/2013 4:30:48 AM PDT · by maggief · 33 replies
    The Guardian ^ | September 10, 2013 | Jonathan Freedland
    Write a new chapter in the diplomatic handbook. Dedicate it to the off-the-cuff remark – the gaffe, even – which averts a war. We don't yet know if John Kerry's apparently unplanned comment in London, suggesting Syria could avoid a US military strike by turning over its stash of chemical weapons, has set in train a process that will ultimately prevent armed American action. But Barack Obama described it as a "possible breakthrough" and the relief can be felt across multiple world capitals. Of course the practical problems are legion – one report claims that getting rid of Syria's chemical...
  • Obama Eases Sanctions on Nuclear Iran as part of Syria "deal"

    09/13/2013 1:27:47 PM PDT · by pabianice · 39 replies
    Virtual Jerusalem ^ | 9/13/13 | Rouhani
    Iran, and not just Russia and Syria, is taking advantage of President Barack Obama's decision to refrain from military force against Syria to collect a shower of diplomatic and political dividends. The new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani announced Tuesday that the coming meeting of the General Assembly opening in New York later this month "may prove the perfect setting to reignite talks about the nation's nuclear program." The US Treasury Department accordingly lifted a string of sanctions restricting humanitarian and athletic exchanges between US and Iranian NGOs and environmental projects, as a counter-gesture of good will. Washington was not put...
  • PRUDEN: Measuring Putin for Mount Rushmore

    09/13/2013 8:04:32 AM PDT · by elhombrelibre · 17 replies
    The Washington Times ^ | 13 Sep 13 | Pruden
    But ridding Syria of its chemicals won’t be easy If you’re reading or listening in the wrong places, you might think they’re already measuring a place for Vladimir Putin on Mount Rushmore, sandwiched between Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. That’s where Barack Obama, who may have to give Mr. Putin the Nobel Peace Prize he won for doing nothing, expected to rest one day. Before the sculptors with their chisels board a train for Rapid City, the euphoric legion should stop to figure out just how Mr. Putin and his client, Bashar Assad, intend to dismantle the stocks of chemical...
  • Uncle Vladimir

    09/13/2013 3:14:49 AM PDT · by Kaslin · 22 replies ^ | September 13, 2013 | David Stokes
    Vladimir Putin is currently cashing in on an ill-advised promise made when two presidents thought no one was listening. You may recall President Obama’s whispered assurance, back in March of 2012, to then Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev: “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.” We are now witnessing that promised flexibility. America’s foreign policy is becoming a caricature—international affairs according to Gumby. Russian President Vladimir Putin is a mix of Joseph Stalin and Lavrenty Beria---an experienced strongman and savvy intelligence officer. He is hardly someone to be impressed by “flexibility.” Vladimir is all about power...
  • The fruits of epic incompetence

    09/13/2013 5:00:16 AM PDT · by Oldeconomybuyer · 24 replies
    Washington Post ^ | September 12, 2013 | By Charles Krauthammer
    The president of the United States takes to the airwaves to urgently persuade the nation to pause before doing something it has no desire to do in the first place. Strange. And it gets stranger still. That “strike Syria, maybe” speech begins with a heart-rending account of children consigned to a terrible death by a monster dropping poison gas. It proceeds to explain why such behavior must be punished. It culminates with the argument that the proper response — the most effective way to uphold fundamental norms, indeed human decency — is a flea bite: something “limited,” “targeted” or, as...
  • Decisiveness Overrated? White House Thinks Yes

    09/13/2013 5:23:10 AM PDT · by Sir Napsalot · 10 replies
    Roll Call ^ | 9-12-2013 | Steven T. Dennis
    President Barack Obama’s Syria strategy may not have been particularly decisive, but that’s not a bad thing, according to the White House. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney defended his boss Thursday after a blistering few weeks of criticism in Congress and elsewhere over his handling of the Syria crisis. Carney said the American people “appreciate a president who doesn’t celebrate decisiveness for decisiveness’ sake.” He also said Americans like that Obama is open to “new information” and adjusts his course accordingly. Carney said that in the end, the president will deserve credit if the diplomatic initiative with Russia to...
  • White House responds to Putin's NYT op-ed [ Obama hands Security of the US to Russia ]

    09/12/2013 5:06:30 PM PDT · by NoLibZone · 20 replies
    CNN ^ | Sept ,12,2013 | Jake Tapper
    On the eve of an all-important pow-wow in Geneva, where Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart will talk over a plan for stripping Syria of chemical weapons, The New York Times published a stern, and at times standoffish op-ed from their brand new contributor: Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Putin is now fully invested in Syria’s CW (chemical weapons) disarmament,” a senior White House official told CNN's Jake Tapper, when asked to respond to Putin’s op-ed. In that opinion piece, Putin speaks directly to the American people and says, among many things, that there is "every reason to...
  • A Rare Public View of Obama’s Pivots on Policy in Syria Confrontation

    09/12/2013 2:03:53 PM PDT · by Oldeconomybuyer · 17 replies
    New York Times ^ | September 12, 2013 | By PETER BAKER
    ...Over the last three weeks, the nation has witnessed a highly unusual series of pivots as a president changed course virtually in real time and on live television. Mr. Obama’s handling of his confrontation with Syria over a chemical weapons attack on civilians has been the rare instance of a commander in chief seemingly thinking out loud and changing his mind on the fly. To aides and allies, Mr. Obama’s willingness to hit the pause button twice on his decision to launch airstrikes to punish Syria for using chemical weapons on its own people reflects a refreshing open-mindedness and a...
  • What Putin Wants: Moscow’s Fear of Jihad Drives Policy on Syria

    09/12/2013 2:24:05 PM PDT · by Olog-hai · 30 replies
    Der Spiegel ^ | September 12, 2013 – 05:38 PM | Uwe Klussman
    Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry appear relieved that the proposal from Moscow provides an opportunity to avoid a war—of which neither of them was particularly convinced. Despite all of Washington’s recent frustrations with the Russian offer of asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, the US government knows that a partnership with Putin is both possible and necessary. One reason for this is the fact that armed Islamist extremism, which is growing in strength from Kabul to Damascus, is more of a threat to Russia that it is to the US. It was no accident that the Sept. 9...
  • Assad Sets Conditions on Relinquishing Chemical Arms (US quit supporting Al Qaeda)

    09/12/2013 1:18:52 PM PDT · by markomalley · 9 replies
    National Journal ^ | 9/12/2013
    Syrian President Bashar Assad said his nation would give up its chemical arms only if the United States ends any weapons deliveries to opposition forces and ceases its "threatening" behavior. The Damascus leader made the remarks in a Russian television interview quoted on Thursday by the Washington Post. "When we see the United States really wants stability in our region and stops threatening, striving to attack, and also ceases arms deliveries to terrorists, then we will believe that the necessary processes can be finalized,” Assad reportedly told Rossiya-24 television. He said Damascus would start disclosing details about its chemical assets...
  • White House Proclaims "Exceptional" Obama Deserves Credit For Any Syrian Deal

    09/12/2013 12:55:24 PM PDT · by Nachum · 27 replies
    Zero Hedge ^ | 9/12/13 | Tyler Durden
    t will likely come as no surprise but the political one-up-manship continues as the Obama White House try to rescue themselves from a face-melting Putin Op-Ed... As Politico reports, WH press secretary Jay Carney stated: “If we were to see a situation unfold where Assad were to give up his chemical weapons to international supervision that would be an enormous accomplishment ... would be due to the decisions made by the Russian leadership but also the decisions made by the United States, by the president, to take the approach he has taken in response to the horrifying use of chemical...
  • W.H.: Obama deserves credit for any Syrian deal

    09/12/2013 12:17:15 PM PDT · by Sub-Driver · 34 replies
    W.H.: Obama deserves credit for any Syrian deal By REID J. EPSTEIN | 9/12/13 3:05 PM EDT President Barack Obama would deserve some credit if the Syrian crisis is ultimately resolved with the Assad regime relinquishing its chemical weapons, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday. “If we were to see a situation unfold where Assad were to give up his chemical weapons to international supervision that would be an enormous accomplishment and it would represent a wholesale change to where Syria and Russia were … three weeks ago,” Carney said. “That would be due to the decisions made...
  • Obama’s Next Foreign-Policy Team : John Kerry may be on the way out for this.

    09/11/2013 6:48:32 AM PDT · by bestintxas · 31 replies
    nat review ^ | 9/11/13 | j carafano
    It was the most predictable speech of Barack Obama’s presidency. He spent 15 minutes pretending that he was master and commander driving Syria policy. The truth is the Oval Office has been dragged into the middle of war it desperately wanted to avoid. But events have landed the president in a bad place. It is clear he doesn’t have the confidence of the Congress. He probably couldn’t even get a resolution through the Senate, a chamber controlled by his own party. Asking Congress to postpone the vote was a transparent, face-saving measure. If failing to command Congress wasn’t bad enough,...
  • Obama says is shifting to domestic priorities from Syria focus

    09/12/2013 10:10:09 AM PDT · by Oldeconomybuyer · 59 replies
    Reuters ^ | September 12, 2013 | By Mark Felsenthal
    President Barack Obama said on Thursday he is shifting his focus to domestic priorities from a tense period during which he sought congressional approval to use military force against Syria for its suspected use of chemical weapons. "Even as we have been spending a lot of time on the Syria issue and making sure that international attention is focused on the horrible tragedy that occurred there, it is still important to recognize that we've got a lot more stuff to do here in this government," the president said before a meeting with his Cabinet at the White House. The president...
  • White House: Putin 'Owns' World's Syria Strategy

    09/12/2013 9:39:41 AM PDT · by mojito · 24 replies
    Breitbart ^ | 9/12/2013 | John Nolte
    Apparently, once again with respect to Syria, the White House was caught off guard by events they are frantically reacting to instead of shaping. Speaking to CNN's Jake Tapper, a White House official publicly responded to Russian President Vladmir Putin's New York Times op-ed with the admission that Putin "now owns" and has "fully asserted ownership" of America's current foreign policy focal point; pushing Syria to surrender its chemical weapons: “That’s all irrelevant,” the White House official said in response [to Putin's op-ed]. “He put this proposal forward and he’s now invested in it. That’s good. That’s the best possible...
  • "This Has Been one of the Most Humiliating Episodes in Presidential History"

    09/12/2013 7:54:33 AM PDT · by Servant of the Cross · 39 replies ^ | 9/11/2013 | Guy Benson
    National Journal's Ron Fournier, a veteran DC journo who calls 'em like he sees 'em, hasn't been terribly impressed with President Obama's careening and incomprehensible handling of the crisis in Syria. In an unsparing review, Fournier concludes that Obama has demonstrated himself to be naive and isolated. Behold what 'smart power' hath wrought: Naive about the levers of power: Where to start? Obama reversed course on congressional authorization at the last minute, after a private chat with his chief of staff, and to the surprise of his national security team--all in violation of presidential best practices. He then left the...