Tag Archives: United States Congress

Obama’s Syria pitch: How pivotal a moment for the U.S.?

Obama makes his case for intervention in national address tonight

When U.S. President Barack Obama takes his case for a strike against Syria to the American people tonight, he will be making a pitch to a country where many are at best only lukewarm toward the thought of intervening in a civil war that has taken more than 100,000 lives.

On Monday, a poll by The Associated Press found that most Americans oppose even a limited attack on Syria. That response comes even though they’ve been told — repeatedly — by the administration that doing nothing, particularly in the face of apparent chemical weapons use, would risk national security and ignore a humanitarian crisis of immense proportions.

The current debate — which will officially make its way to the U.S. Congress later this week — brings with it questions over the extent to which a country where many seem weary with war intervenes or isolates itself from the world stage.

And it also leaves open the question of whether the Syrian crisis is another in a long line of pivotal moments for the largest military and economic power in the world.

“Is it a referendum on isolationism versus interventionism — yes it is, and that’s an ongoing conversation in America,” says Peter Loewen, a political science professor and director of the Centre for the Study of the United States at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.

“But the pendulum has swung more towards isolationism than ever in the last 15 years.”

Loewen sees several factors playing into that swing: the U.S. experience and “lack of apparent success” in Afghanistan and Iraq, the fact that “Syria is a particularly messy case,” and the nature of domestic politics at the moment. Read More

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Sonia Gandhi calls meet on food security bill

There is apprehension in the Congress that opposition-ruled states may not be as enthusiastic in implementing the ordinance, which aims to give subsidised grains to around 67 percent of India’s 1.2 billion people (around 800 million), said the sources.

  Keen to implement the UPA’s national food security ordinance at the earliest, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has convened a meeting of party chief ministers and state unit chiefs July 13 to discuss the issue, sources said Tuesday.

Sonia Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi

The meeting comes days after the Congress-led UPA government issued an ordinance to implement its flagship social welfare legislation, the National Food Security Bill.

According to sources, Sonia Gandhi wants Congress governments in states to roll out the right to food law at the earliest so that the poor can feel its impact.

The bill is expected to be a game-changer for the Congress ahead of the assembly polls in five states this year-end and the 2014 general elections.

There is apprehension in the Congress that opposition-ruled states may not be as enthusiastic in implementing the ordinance, which aims to give subsidised grains to around 67 percent of India’s 1.2 billion people (around 800 million), said the sources.

Knowing that the rollout of the ordinance would take even the Congress-ruled states some time, the Congress leadership does not want to leave anything to chance as any electoral benefits would come only if the scheme is implemented on the ground, the sources said.

The government is facing another hurdle as it has to get the ordinance approved in the coming monsoon session of parliament likely to begin early August.

Fearing that the legislation was likely to benefit the Congress, opposition parties may not be in a mood to cooperate in approving the ordinance, said government sources.

The right to food law is expected to fetch rich electoral dividends to the Congress in 2014, just as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme did in the 2009 general elections.

Food Minister K.V. Thomas briefed party spokespersons Monday on details of the food security bill so that they are better informed and confident of defending it during debates.

It is expected that Congress-ruled Delhi, which will have assembly elections this year-end, may become the first state in the country to roll out the food security bill on Aug 20, the birth anniversary of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, said party sources.