Worldwide opposition marks the limits...

Worldwide opposition marks the limits of U.S. power

Posted in the Chicago Forum

Immanuel Wallerstein

Matawan, NJ

#1 Sep 15, 2013
Putting the Syria strike on hold
by Immanuel Wallerstein
September 15, 2013 | 6:00AM ET

Commentary: Worldwide opposition to U.S. military intervention marks the limits of U.S. power

For the past month at least, the world seems to have been discussing nothing but whether, how and when the United States will engage in a punitive air strike of some sort against the Syrian regime of Bashir al-Assad. Three things stand out about this discussion:(1) It has been full of endless surprises in every aspect of the affair, including and perhaps especially the latest Russian proposal that Syria's chemical weapons be turned over to some international agency.(2) The degree of worldwide opposition to U.S. military intervention has been extremely high.(3) Almost all the actors have been giving public statements that seem not to reflect their true concerns and intentions.

Let us start with the so-called unexpected Russian proposal, which Syria's Foreign Minister has endorsed. Was this really the result of an off-hand, unserious remark of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, cleverly seized upon by the Russians the day before President Obama was scheduled to make his plea to the American people to endorse a military strike? It seems not. Apparently, Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have been quietly discussing such a possibility for over a year.

Worldwide opposition to a U.S. strike, including opposition within the United States, has been remarkable in two ways. This is the first time since 1945 that the U.S. government has been faced with this degree of internal opposition to such proposed action, especially in Congress, which heretofore has always almost routinely gone along.

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