Protesters against US military action in Syria march to Capitol Hill from the White House in Washington, Saturday, September 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Events are moving at a rapid pace, but it appears in the past twenty-four hours that the international community moved towards a diplomatic response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Russia’ potential embrace of a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Syria’s the use of chemical weapons in Syria, coupled with a deadline for UN control of Syria’s stockpiles, might avert US military intervention.
Accordingly, yet another “Gang of 8” senators is crafting a resolution more in line with the new dynamic. It would, in practice, supplant the resolution passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, which was already losing momentum. (Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he would not support it, as did a raft of other senators, from Rob Portman to Ed Markey.)
The new “Gang” bill, according to news reports, would authorize US military force in Syria if the Security Council can’t pass a workable resolution, or if Syria fails to comply with it. The New York Times reported the details are “far from complete.”
In theory, this sounds good—it’s roughly similar to a compromise floated by Senator Joe Manchin last week; both would give Syria an opportunity to comply with international chemical weapons bans before military action occurs.
But Manchin’s bill was short and direct, and tried to force a number of safeguards that would limit the chances of military action, including a strategic plan from the White House with specific benchmarks.
A quick look at the gang working on the new Senate bill would indicate the new resolution is unlikely to be similarly limited. The members are, according to the Times: Republican Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte and Saxby Chambliss, along with Democratic Senators Carl Levin, Charles E. Schumer and Chris Coons. Senator Bob Menendez chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, is reportedly “in consultations” with the group.