It is getting close in more ways than one. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says a vote concerning Syria will come Wednesday. No, it isn't a vote on the actual resolution, it is a vote on whether to proceed to the resolution. A sort of testing of the waters if you will.
Before that occurs Barak Obama will confer privately with senate democrats Tuesday afternoon to rally the troops and then in a prime time address make his case to the American people.
The resolution itself limits American action to 60 days, with a one time extension to 90 days if the president can convince congress the military needs it. In addition it prohibits American troops on the ground in Syria and requires the administration to submit a comprehensive strategy to congress for, "achieving a negotiated political settlement" to end the conflict. It also requires a complete vetting of opposition groups before any aid can be offered to them. In the words of the resolution, aid would go only to those groups who, "share common interests and values with the United States."
Earlier the Russians, in an effort to stave off any military action, publicly proposed to the Syrians they should put their chemical weapons under international control. The initial U.S. response was cool at best, with at least one administration official saying it was nothing more than a delaying tactic. However, someone on Pennsylvania Avenue must be rethinking that stance. None other than Hillary Rodham Clinton emerged from a meeting with the president and said such a move would be, "an important step." She also described the situation as being, "fluid."
Meanwhile, PBS' Charlie Rose went to Damascus and interviewed Bashar al-Assad on Sunday. The entire conversation will be aired tonight, although parts of it have been shown on CBS.
When asked if there would be attacks against American bases in the mid east after a U.S. strike against Syria, Assaid answered a bit cryptically. "You should expect everything," he said, "everything--not necessarily from the government. The government is not the only player in this region. You have different parties, you have different factions, you have different ideologies.
Rose pressed a little and asked if any attack would involve chemical weapons. Assad responded by saying, "That depends if the rebels or any other terrorists groups have it, it could happen."
That's our boy Bashar. He is still denying his troops used chemical weapons and while saying an attack with them could be launched against American interests, he is telling us he is sure it would come from the very people the air strikes are supposed to aid. Most experts believe the "different parties" he is referring to is Hezbollah and Iran, both backers of his regime and widely considered a bunch of wild eyed assholes
At this point, despite all the rhetoric, the reality remains the vast majority of Americans don't want a piece of this action. In fact if you were to travel to your local bar in this, or any other burg and run a survey, you'd probably find that Joe the plumber doesn't care one whit if Assad used chemical weapons on his own people or not. In truth, some may even like what he did, because to them the only good Arab is a dead one.
Yes, Harry Reid can tell us, "America's willingness to stand for what's right should not end at our borders," but there is no shaking the feeling in tens of millions of American guts that no matter which side wins, they are going to end up hating us anyway. Indeed--screw 'em and while you're at it bring me another beer.
There are some in congress, Oklahoma's Jim Inhofe for one, who are using this for political ends. Inhofe was an exuberant supporter of the Iraq adventure when his guy was in office. There weren't any questions about policy and plans from him then like there are now. As for the rest of us, we just understand how ruthless that con job was and how people like Halliburton gleefully shook us down for billions of dollars while it was going on.
In the end, Syria--despite the assurances, despite the horrific photographs, despite even the possibility there is a genuine need for us to do something--still looks like another black and deadly hole to a vast portion of the citizenry. It is a deep well we've jumped head long into far too often.
Right and wrong have nothing to do with it. Certainly vague threats about the possible involvement of Hezbollah and Iran have nothing to do with it. We simply don't want to make that trip again. At least not so soon after the last one.
You see, every now and then, even the Lone Ranger needs to take a breather.
And now is one of those moments.
sic vita est