Today’s headlines: Barack Obama’s elevator pitch

What you need to know as the U.S. President makes his case for a limited military strike


(Christopher Gregory/The New York Times)

Barack Obama is trying to sell a limited military strike on Syria that will rid the government of its ability to use chemical weapons. That’s the elevator pitch, and the U.S. President will try to sell it in a series of network interviews and, tomorrow, in an address to the American people. The U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives will consider Obama’s request for Congressional approval of some form of targeted strike.

What would that strike comprise? Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking after a meeting with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in London, attempted an explanation.

“We’re not going to war. We will be able to hold Bashar al-Assad accountable without engaging troops on the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort, in a very limited, very targeted, very short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria’s civil war. That is exactly what we are talking about doing; an unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.”

Whether or not all the words that followed that first sentence sound like war or not, that’s the U.S. proposal: a short, targeted, limited, small attack on specific government-controlled installations. Meanwhile, an American official put a timeline on the operation in an interview with the L.A. Times, and forecast a larger campaign than was originally intended. “There will be several volleys and an assessment after each volley, but all within 72 hours and a clear indication when we are done,” said the official.

A three-day series of strikes, then, and nothing more. Someone should count the number of times a country has planned a quick military operation, and then count the number of times things didn’t go as quickly as planned.

What about the specific evidence for such a strike? The Americans aren’t playing ball. “The U.S. government insists it has the intelligence to prove it, but the public has yet to see a single piece of concrete evidence produced by U.S. intelligence,” reported the Associated Press. Meanwhile, the AP reports, the Syrian government and its allies in Russia have claimed, also without evidence, that rebels—including al-Qaeda forces, according to pro-Syria websites—carried out the alleged chemical attack. He said, she said.

Obama’s sales pitch to America is fraught. At every turn, he’s reminded of a historical moment he ought to avoid at all costs: Kerry invoked the appeasement of the Nazis at Munich in 1938, while newspapers recall the lack of a solid case for the invasion of Iraq just a decade ago. How the president can avoid tying himself in knots as he makes his case is almost inconceivable. His pitch is so simple, on its face, but so terribly complex between the lines. Obama cannot hope for a slam dunk.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with the Quebec government’s plan for a five-year grace period as it bans religious symbols in public workplaces. The National Post fronts the lack of evidence directly linking a chemical attack on Syrians to government forces. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with U.S. President Barack Obama’s public relations blitz to secure public support for a strike on Syria. The Ottawa Citizen leads with $1 million worth of equipment purchased, but never acquired, by the Canadian military. iPolitics fronts columnist Michael Harris’ response to criticism levelled at him by Justice Minister Peter MacKay. CBC.ca leads with calls for laws to protect interns after an Alberta man died on the way home after working long hours. CTV News leads with Obama’s public plea for support for a strike on Syria. National Newswatch showcases a CBC News story in which a former House of Commons law clerk claims Senator Mike Duffy did not break the law when he took a $90,000 cheque from former PMO chief of staff Nigel Wright.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Luxury investment. The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board looks to be investing in U.S. luxury chain Neiman Marcus Inc., a $6-billion deal with equity partner Ares Management LLC. 2. Pets. A Montreal woman wants online classifieds site Kijiji to prevent the sale of household pets, a practice already adopted by Craigslist, as part of a larger campaign to get rid of puppy mills.
3. Drugs. U.S. prosecutors accused a 27-year-old Canadian man, as well as a Spaniard, of possessing 621 kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute. The pair were spotted off the U.S. coast. 4. Keystone XL. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver will head to Washington, D.C., for his first one-on-one meeting with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. Pipelines are on the agenda.
5. Moscow election. Alexei Navalny, who lost to mayor Sergei Sobyanin in a first round of voting, claimed irregularities and threatened street protests if a second round run-off weren’t held. 6. Kenya-China. Kenya’s dilapidated railways will be rebuilt by China, thanks to a $5.2-billion agreement that will also see new hydroelectric dams and larger Kenyan ports n the coast.


Today’s headlines: Barack Obama’s elevator pitch

  1. Wonderful. Kerry has just managed to argue that Pearl Harbor wasn’t war.

    • Yea but the Americans hadn’t just gassed 1500 on the streets of Honolulu. Oh never mind.
      “Peace in out time” and all that. Comparisons are easy.

      • No, the Americans had cut off Japanese oil…in itself an act of war.

        A bombing run…..even a teensy-weensy one….is still war.

        Americans need to mind their own business.

        • Isolationism. 1930’s American and British right wing thinking.

          • Prime Directive. 23rd century.

  2. Has Mr. Kerry asked for his medals back ?

  3. Whenever the Americans felt like bombing some country that they haven’t liked in the past they’ve gone ahead and done it. Now it seems they’re so concerned about following the rules on Syria that they’re scared of their own shadow.
    Without even going to the issue of the chemical weapons in his possession, Assad’s a dickhead of the highest order. During a recent interview with TV journalist, Charlie Rose, he threatened to launch another 9/11 attack on the US. I’d like to see him try and walk around the World Trade Center in New York city after making a statement like that.

    • You are in fact the largest d-head on the planet.

      • Why thank you Tony. I’ll take that as a compliment. Especially coming from someone as truly gifted at the art of being anal retentive that he has a double underscore to his name. Any other pearls of wisdom you can bless us with while you’re at it? Or are you just a one trick pony?

      • Yes I am, I’m sorry.

    • You spew bu11sh1t. 911 was 15 Saudi, Yemen, Bahrain Sunni radicals who got their support from Saudi led UAE countries. Even Osama Bin Ladden was Saudi Sunni. His family and others sent him money. Bush even made sure 24 Bin Ladden family members got out as Saudi own USA. Obama being Sunni Muslim, well, of course he supports Saudi terrorism and Saudi Sunni middle east domination.

      What would the USA do if all Saudi/USE pulled out of USA and sold off USD? Bankruptcy would be immediate.

      Which is why US DC supports terrorism. Make good war profits to, as no war is no profit. Bankers want to blame debt and currecny corruption in war, as they know the current USD and banking system is hopeless corrupt and failing.

      War for all the wrong reasons. Vilify an enemy and start a war. As Syria, Iran, Russia and China oppose terrorism.

      • Dave,
        Time to take your little pink and green pills again. You know what happens when you don’t.

    • I am metropika!

  4. “Unbelievably small”.

    We are so screwed.

  5. “That is exactly what we are talking about doing; an unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.”

    Times like this i’m not so sure it wasn’t an entirely bad thing Kerry never made prez.
    Unbelievably small…why do i have so much trouble believing that?

  6. If George Bush, Bush senior, Reagan, or even Clinton were proposing this, Republicans would be lining up to vote YES. This is everything they love except it is being proposed by a black President they still want to destroy.

    • But at least before Obama, they did bomb terrorists. Now US bombs openly to support terrorists. At least Bush tried to hide it.

      • You got me.

        • He’s off his meds again.

          • He’s off his meds again.

  7. rabble, rabble, rabble.

    • There’s still time to get help. Maybe you and Dave777 can check into the same clinic.

      • stop using my name buddy!

        • Well why don’t you file a complaint with Disqus, the forum hosts. I’m sure that they’d be quite interested in what you have to say.

  8. Americans need time to manufacture proof. Takes time and a lot of propaganda to sell a “Regime” war on other countries.

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