President Obama and officials in his administration are claiming a political victory in the Syria crisis, thanks to the lifeline thrown their way by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Syria has agreed to Putin's proposal that it give up the chemical weapons it claims to have never had. The idea came from an off-the-cuff remark made by Secretary of State John Kerry, who in no way intended what he said to be an actual plan.
Kerry shrugged off a reporter’s question Monday about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad avoiding a U.S. attack, saying, “He could turn over every bit of his weapons to the international community with the next week, without delay. But he isn’t about to.”
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called Kerry later that day to inform him that Russia would formerly call on Assad to give up his chemical weapons. And just like that, Assad agreed.
Naturally, Obama’s cheerleading squad jumped at the chance to declare Obama the winner in all this. Obama’s former senior adviser, David Axelrod, tweeted late Monday that “if POTUS hadn’t threatened credible military response, does anyone believe Russia and Syria would be coming forward now? No time to falter.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi followed up Tuesday afternoon, tweeting “thanks to pres. Obama’s strength, we have a Russian proposal. We hope that it is credible and real, and therefore progress.”
Really? Obama’s “limited” and “unbelievably small” (Kerry’s words) engagement plan in Syria frightened Putin and Assad into action?
Obama’s clear inability to get the country or Congress behind his plan convinced Assad that he needed to give up his weapons?