There has been a lot of media talk-and a lot of bull from the extreme right and the left-calling the President Obama wishy-washy, accusing him of backing down, and essentially a coward. They would have the world believe Russian President Vladimir Putin was the statesman, thumbing his nose at Mr. Obama and the United States, while getting a good deal for his client state (and major arms buyer) Syria.
It is true that President Putin thumbed his nose at the U.S. and effectively called President Obama inept. Beyond that, nothing is correct about any of those accusations.
President Obama was the one to originate the idea behind the Syria deal, in 2012 during the G20 summit in Mexico.
Thats right. A year ago. President Obama’s idea. Not Putin’s.
Yes, Mr. Obama threatened military action against Syria because of the Nerve gas attack against civilians. Yes he changed his mind. Yes congress collectively was chickening out.
Meanwhil, John Kerry is working his patrician butt off lobbying the House and Senate, and the Russians, apparently.
Could it just be that President Obama and Secretary Kerry were using this time-out to carry on some behind the scenes diplomacy?
Fast forward to President Obama’s speech to the nation when-Surprise!-a dal has been cut with the Russians to get the Syrian Government to plead guilty to possession of chemical weapons (another big surprise, I said sarcastically) and agree to the destruction of those weapons as well as the destruction of the mixing equipment to put nerve agent components together for use.
He, President Obama, does not claim credit for this idea (though he gave redit to the Russian Foreign Minister and Secretary of State Kerry joint credit), and by association Mr. Putin got credit.
Then Putin, in an incredibly arrogant, self-righteous and condescending OP-ED in the New York Times disses the President and the People of the United States. One wonders who wrote it for him and what PR firm got it placed in the NYT.
In the spirit of unity with all of the innocent victims in Syria, and with President Obama, and to avoid international incidents, as well as not sinking to his level of crassness, I will not suggest to Mr. Putin where to put his OP-ED. I will merely point out the obvious:
To wit; the threat of using armed force in order to get a government or other politcal entity (like rebel forces) to the bargaining table so that armed force is not needed, is a valid and time tested device of statesmanship. Using delaying tactics like “consuting Congress” to get the party or parties to agree to talk rather than escalate the situation, is also a tried and true strategy.
And guess what! It worked. Maybe. Maybe not. Time will tell. But President Obama got what he wanted-Syria to agree to go to the bargaining table, and Putin got to look brave and macho to his constituency at home (women over 50). The Syrian Government got some breathing room, and the various factions of the anti-government Syrian Forces got the world’s attention to the predicament of the innocent victims of the Syrian civil war (they got the least benefit).
President Obama is the hero here. He is the Statesman, with a capital S. Putin is just showing his true colors as the pouting, sulking kid ticked off at the world because he did not get his way, but is taking credit for what someone else (Obama) did.
The next step is up to the Syrian regime. If they do not, we can only hope that President Obama, Secretary Kerry and the Russians have a contingency plan for that.
Meanwhile , Thumbs Up for President Obama, and thumbs down for President Putin (Pooty-Poo to George W. Bush)