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Obama performs a deft dance of threat and diplomacy

World leaders including President Obama are trying to come up with the right approach in dealing with the Syrian regime’s recent use of chemical weapons. Obama’s speech Tuesday to gain public support for his policy appeared to be a lecture on the topic of smart diplomacy, and for this he needs to be commended.

In international relations smart diplomacy generally refers to the hybrid approach that underscores the necessity of a strong military but also depends heavily on alliances and partnerships. The option of a nonmilitary solution, as suggested by the president, is logical and preferable, as support of military action within and outside the United States is very low.

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In addition, the nonmilitary solution provides new opportunities in improving somewhat strained US-Russian relations. The Russian initiative that proposes the handover of Syrian chemical weapons to UN-supervised international bodies should be given serious consideration. The success of this initiative would mean the indirect success of Obama’s policy, as the Russian initiative emerged only after the US threat of a military strike was taken seriously by both Russia and Syria.

The US endorsement of the Russian initiative may be used as political leverage by the United States in seeking Russia’s help in other international issues, including curbing nuclear proliferation, reducing nuclear arms, and increasing global security.

Khalique Ahmed


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