Thursday, September 12, 2013

Resolving the Syrian Crisis

President Obama and his lapdog, Secretary of State, John Kerry, just got "played". An arrogant Obama pranced around the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg Russia liked he owned the place and the world needed to call on him; even showing up late for a dinner and apparently expecting everyone to wait on him. It didn't happen. Russian President Vladimir Putin clearly showed Obama that Russia was his, and Obama was just one guest to the world economic gathering among many. Obama had intended to convince world leaders to come around to his point of view over the Syrian situation. Instead, everyone stayed pretty much focused on the global economic crisis. Imagine that. Meanwhile, those leaders who did venture a remark here and there made it clear they didn't support Obama's "missile diplomacy".

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Russia was busy at work trying to ease the situation while Obama kept pleading his case through Kerry to the various liberal "talking heads" political talk shows, Congress, and anybody else he could collar. But nobody was buying the rotting fish. Poll after poll showed that the American People weren't interested in getting involved in a Syrian civil war where there was little concrete evidence of who fire the missiles armed with the sarin gas, although there was a preponderance of evidence that it was the Al Qaeda backed rebels who were the guilty party. It seemed everyone knew that an American assault on Syrian government forces, however "narrow" as Obama put it, would lead to wider involvement of US troops sooner or later. In addition, given the fragile nature of the conflict, an American strike could easily tilt the military stalemate in favor of the rebels. This could potentially lead to yet another extremist Islamic government in the Middle East, and irony of ironies, made America an accidental ally of Al Qaeda on the anniversary of the cowardly 9/11 attack!

So, how was the mistake averted? Enter Vladimir Putin again. As some of you may know, Russia is both a military and economic ally of Syria. Over the years, especially during the Cold War, Russia kept Syria well armed, which apparently included supplies of chemical weapons such as mustard and saran gas. So much so, that Syria became one the world's biggest possessors of the lethal substances. As a result of their relationship---and not to threats from Obama---President Assad agreed to put their chemical weapons stock under international control with Russia acting as the facilitator.

Despite the public announcement, Obama went on TV Tuesday night, September 10th, to announce that America was essentially "approving" the deal (although they weren't included and weren't asked), and added that America would continue to monitor the situation to see that both Syria and Russia comply. Quoting President Reagan, Secretary of State Kerry said we would "trust but verify with emphasis on verify". Obama went on to cite "American Exceptionalism" and God as our prerogative to monitor and, apparently, to act as the world's policeman. Putin was quick to respond that "God created all men equally" and pretty much let Obama know that the days of any sole moral authority American leaders believed they had were over. Implied in his statement, Putin seemed to indicate that any US military action may result in an equal responsive military action. Obama checkmated.

The international community is now, more than ever, about shared leadership, responsibility, and cooperation, not bully pulpit diplomacy. One wonders if the Cuban Missile Crisis which took place under President Kennedy's watch was to happen again, who would blink this time? Come to think about it, perhaps it just has.

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