You have to admit that the timing of the Russian ploy to trip up (or at least drag President Obama’s feet on) — any US bombing of Moscow ally Syria was exquisite. I for one would now not only want to avoid playing Russian roulette with Vladimir Putin but also would stay out of a high-stakes all-night poker game with him.
Contemporary historians will now feel required to reassess the quality of the diplomacy of the Putin government. At the moment it does not looks so heavy-footed or even particularly un-artful, does it?
The proposal pushed into prominence is that Damascus consign its chemical stocks to international authority. This came on the eve of expected US Congressional votes on Obama’s proposed punishment of the Assad government’s evident use of chemical weapons inside Syria. The result is to delay that vote pending clarification of the Russian position, and move the world spotlight to the negotiating battlefields of Geneva – and the United Nations in New York.
To be honest, I couldn’t be happier about this development. Count me as among one of the gazillions of Americans with general growing doubts about the efficacy of US military power to deal with issues that are either primarily political or do not directly threaten US national security.
There is no question that we could get away with a bombing run or missile shower into Syria. But the main achievement might be only to show further disrespect for the role of the UN Security Council as the primary legitimate international sanctioneer of the use of force against any given sovereign state.