Socialist Worker

Obama’s Syria deal with Russia shows the limits of US power

by Judith Orr
Issue No. 2371

US president Barack Obama has stepped back from his threat to bomb Syria. The US and Russia signed an accord in Geneva last Saturday. 

It commits the Syrian regime to reveal a list of its chemical weapons within a week and allow inspectors access by November.

United Nations inspectors reported on Monday that they had found evidence of the use of Sarin gas in Damascus.

Obama went all out to win support for an attack on Syria. He put his authority and that of the US internationally on the line. But it didn’t work. Public opinion was against a new war and despite hard campaigning he risked losing a vote in Congress. 

The last minute deal brokered by the Russians saved Obama. If he had lost the Congress vote and backed off from bombing he would have looked weak. 

Going ahead without broader backing would have isolated him at home and internationally.

For months Obama talked tough about intervention in Syria—but he balked at carrying it through. Shoring up the US’s imperial reach was Obama’s only political motivation for acting. But there was no guarantee of success.

He has continued the verbal threats of a military assault if Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad doesn’t comply with the new accord saying, “If diplomacy fails, the United States remains prepared to act”. But the US ruling class showed its divisions and now the immediate threat of a new war has subsided.  

Any Western attack on Syria would make the situation worse for the millions already suffering under Assad’s dictatorship. The struggle to bring down the regime has become locked in a bloody stalemate, but western bombs are not the answer. 

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