As President Obama prepares to address the nation this evening from the White House, the United States Senate's Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid has now delayed its vote on the use of force in Syria this morning, in order to allow for the prospect of the eleventh-hour diplomatic and political solution seized upon by the Russian Foreign Minister and experienced diplomat, Sergey V. Lavrov. It was Mr. Lavrov who recognized in Secretary Kerry’s response to a CBS News State Department correspondant, Margaret Brennan as he and British Foreign Secretary William Hague gave a joint press conference on Monday, September 9. Secretary of State Kerry will meet with Foreign Minister Lavrov this coming Thursday, September 12.
Viewers of C-SPAN heard Sen. Reid's remarks today, explaining the reason for the delay in the vote:
I am pleased that the administration is considering this offer and determining whether the proposal can satisfy the criteria I have just outlined. The Senate should give these international discussions time to play out, but not unlimited time.
That is why, although there is support to move forward and debate the bipartisan resolution reported by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I did not rush to file cloture on the motion to proceed to this measure last night. As I said, we don’t need to prove how quickly we can do this, but how well we can do this.
However, the Syrian regime should fully understand that the United States is watching closely. And the Assad regime should be warned: the United States will not tolerate this breach of human decency and long-held international consensus against the use of chemical weapons.
The New York Times has quoted a White House official who confirmed that Russia will forge a formal proposal that calls upon the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to coordinate with the Chemical Weapons Convention unit to oversee the prospective transfer of all Syrian chemical weapons:
“They agreed to work closely together, and in consultation with Russia and China, to explore seriously the viability of the Russian proposal to put all Syrian chemical weapons and related materials fully under international control in order to ensure their verifiable and enforceable destruction. These efforts will begin today at the United Nations.”
The President’s address to the nation on Tuesday night, September 10, was to have explained to the American people his reasons for asking for Congressional authorization in order to take a limited military action to degrade the possibilities of President Bashar al-Assad’s defiance of the universal norm against the use of chemical weapons.
Instead, it appears that the President will bring the American people up to speed regarding the details of the Russian proposal, and the nature of the support, both domestically and internationally, of the costs and benefits of this possible alternative means of accomplishing this objective without the further suffering and destruction that accompanies violent means which – in addition to being a waste of lives and resources for growth and development -- are so often, in the end, an ineffective strategy.