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Obama, Putin, Syria

Posted on the 13 September 2013 by Charlescrawford @charlescrawford

Here is a really good WSJ piece on the foreign policy issues surrounding Syria. Really good for its grasp of the wider Big Picture, and despite the fact that I am mentioned in it:

It is Barack Obama's impulse to make himself and whatever is in his head the center of attention. By now, we are used to it. But this week he turned himself, the presidency and the United States into a spectacle. We were alternately shocked and agog at these events. Now the sobering-up has to begin.

The world has effectively lost its nominal leader, the U.S. president. Is this going to be the new normal? If so—and it will be so if serious people don't step up—we are looking at a weakened U.S president who has a very, very long three years left on his term...

A congressional vote against that Syria resolution was never going to include a sequester for the Middle East. Iran's 16,600 uranium-enrichment centrifuges are spinning. Iran's overflights of Iraq to resupply Damascus with heavy arms and Quds forces will continue until Assad wins. Turkey and Saudi Arabia, U.S. allies, will start condominium talks with Iran, a U.S. enemy. Israel will do what it must, if it can.

On Wednesday the Russian press reported that the Putin government has sold state-of-the-art S-300 anti-aircraft missiles and batteries to Iran, a system with the capability to create a no-fly zone along the Syrian-Lebanon border. It should be running like clockwork by 2016. Europe will consider a reset with the new status quo.

There also isn't going to be a continuing resolution that defines limits for China the next 40 months. Articles now appear routinely describing how the U.S. "pivot" toward Asia is no longer believed by Asians. What if, after watching this week's Syrian spectacle, China next year lands a colony of fishermen on the Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkakus to their Japanese claimants?

China on Tuesday warned India about setting up new military posts along their disputed 4,000-kilometer border. Is North Korea's Kim Jong Un on hold till 2016? There isn't going to be a House vote to repeal al Qaeda, which can still threaten U.S. personnel or assets around the world.

The White House, Congress and Beltway pundits are exhaling after the president of Russia took America off the hook of that frightful intervention vote by offering, in the middle of a war, to transfer Syria's chemical weapons inventory to the U.N.—a fairy tale if ever there was one. Ask any chemical-weapons disposal specialist.

Syria looks lost. The question now is whether anyone who participated in the fiasco, from left to right, will adjust to avoid a repeat when the next crisis comes...

Read the whole thing.

Part of me forlornly wonders whether there may be some perverse hope in this abject collapse by Washington. It perhaps will incline Assad to overreach and duck and weave and cheat and lie to the point where even President Obama has had enough of being insulted, and blows Assad and all his fancy Russian military kit to smithereens.

Or not.


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