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Assad’s WMD Massacre – Punitive Military Action: President Obama’s Decisions & What Should Upcoming Week’s Public Discussions

Prepare for Congress Agenda and Decision Making By Libor Benes On 8/31/13, President Obama announced his decisions: - “the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets.” It will not be an open ended intervention, “no boots on the ground,” and an action limited in duration and scope. - to “seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s Representatives in Congress.” President Obama said that Assad’s attack by chemical weapons is “a serious danger to U.S. national security” and endangers others. This menace must be confronted. President Obama also sent a draft resolution to Congress. Various aspects of his decision are being broadly discussed and these discussions will become more intensive in the upcoming week. Congress will be back in Washington, D.C., on September 9, 2013. The media said that some Senate leaders indicated that Senate may come back already this week. Public discussions will address the decision from various perspectives (in random order) that will also set themes for the debate in Congress: a) The decision itself: motivations, substance, which aspects are good or not, consequences (political domestic, international, military, legal), chances for success in Congress, exact definition of the decision and of its specific goal, b) Political in the U.S.: - positions, - support and reservations in both parties, - questions, - risks, - consequences, - broader political agendas by various political parties and elected representatives on federal and state level, - security situation in the U.S. and for U.S. interests overseas, - needs of security and defense, c) Political internationally: - importance, - goals, - consequences, - risks, - shorter-/longer-term attitudes and steps by Assad and his allies,

- political situation in the international arena regarding the operation and Assad’s use of chemical weapons, - international security situation, - security situation (current, indications) in countries supporting the U.S.-led response, - support by friends and allies who should continue and more strongly support the U.S.-led response and U.S. policy and how they should and could support, - world and countries’ public opinion, - political coalition in support must be more developed, - who will participate in political and who in military aspects and how, - situation regarding military participation by France, - consequences of the British vote against military participation and prospects for a re-vote, - Assad’s coalition is developed, - what else can Assad do in the meantime, - international and regional situation, - what various partner countries and countries of the region can do more and better, - needs for more defense, - positions and steps by the U.N. and its countries, - U.S. and supporters’ political and legal positions, possibilities, and limitations, - aims and steps in or toward the U.N., - other countries’ political and legal positions, - risks and opportunities (including unknown aspects) in developments between now and the beginning of the operations if they are authorized, - analysis and results of findings of U.N. inspectors who returned from Syria, - various countries’ positions to the U.N. inspectors findings, - consequences of the U.N. findings and how they strengthen the case and arguments, - motivations of Assad’s supporters and allies, - political and legal consequences of Assad’s chemical massacre and Assad allies’ various types of practical, - political, and legal support and how these are attacks on specific and other international norms and the international political and legal order itself, - prospects for Assad, including leaving office or prosecution, d) Constitutional: - the existing situation created by President’s decision, - positions by members of Congress, lawyers, media, public, maybe judges, - legal interpretations as presented by President and by some members of Congress on who has the authority to make the decision in this case and these types of cases and how they should be implemented, - how does this decision and steps by President impact the constitutional and political position of the President of the United States, Congress, and states, - legal arguments on the decision, - the nature of Assad’s chemical attack as directly related to U.S. security and national interest, - various countries legal situation, - international legal aspects: the U.N., international order and norms, international law, principles and framework of humanity,

- international attitudes and attacks on the U.S. legal and constitutional position and how to protect and defend it, e) Congressional discussions: - timeline, - procedures, - support by various members of Congress, who will vote for and against, who can develop position, - arguments and motivations and difficulties to support, - relations with other upcoming topics on the agenda (budget, debt ceiling, etc.), - risks that Assad and his supporters might try to abuse, f) Historical: - past Presidents’ positions, solutions, and results, - precedents, - similarities and differences, - lessons learned, - risks to be avoided, - what beneficial aspects can be identified, - other leaders’ attitudes and steps, including mistakes and successes, g) President Obama’s other political agenda priorities and legacy, h) Military: - prospects to be authorized by Congress, - objectives, - targets, - parameters, - prospects for success in various options and situations, - consequences, - risks, - potential results: political, psychological, military, regional, world, - other potential factors affecting preparations and execution, i) International public opinion: - countries in support and against, - beneficial arguments, - risky arguments, - perspectives, j) U.S. public opinion: - opinions by the public, media, experts, pundits. Conclusion Public discussions will play a role in analyzing situation, preparing information and arguments, and shaping agenda for debates in Congress and its decision-making process that will lead to Congress

decision on whether it will authorize the military operation. Thorough discussions about all these aspects and factors, including those I forgot to mention or mentioned in previous days, and their analysis and evaluation will be an important opportunity to strengthen the case and the position of the United States for the success of the military operation if Congress will authorize it. It is important to look for ways how to best use this opportunity to prepare a response that will: - best protect U.S. national interest, - punish strongly enough Assad’s chemical massacre of civilians that is also attack on international norms and international order, - defend the international order, - deliver a successful and sufficient message to Assad, including deterring his from using chemical weapons again, - achieve the defined objectives, and - have the defined impact on Assad and his regime and allies.