John Bolton

John Bolton

Monday, September 09, 2013

Will Russia's Get Out of Jail Free Card for Assad Help Obama Save Face Too?

Perhaps. But at the expense of a rational, coherent, U.S. foreign policy!

It's all politics, all the time with Obama, even when national security is at stake. So, this latest gambit by Russia's Putin to help Obama get out of the mess he created with the Syrian crisis must be viewed from that prism. Basically, take every good reason Obama gave to strike Syria and throw it out the window just because it looks like a political loser for Obama.

Gone is any hint of punishing Assad for the crime against humanity of gassing men, women and children on August 21. Gone is any hint of using the strike to contain Iran and Hezbollah. However, it's possible that the whole gambit may fall apart in which case the first two rationales will be reinstated. Obama's team basically makes it up as they go along so anything could happen.

But if the deal does go through who will be the big winner? Surely not the cause of international justice as Assad will remain in power. Obama will save face and put off the consequence of looming votes of no confidence in both the House and Senate. These votes are now on hold. But it leaves Obama looking increasingly silly and irrelevant. Not a good thing for a U.S. President.

Russia's prestige will increase along with it's presence in the region. Assad will be free to continue his civil war and neither Iran, nor Hezbollah will be constrained or warned in any way. Those are the winners in this ploy and that's the only reason Putin floated the plan after bumbling Secretary of State John Kerry left the door open. It's a Trojan Horse.

Moreover, there is no guarantee that Syria's chemical weapons would actually be confiscated. How do you do that in the middle of a civil war? And if it turns out, as it likely will, that the promise to turn over these weapons is not fulfilled what then? Russia, Syria and Iran all know that dragging this thing out means it is even less likely Obama will attack.

Once again, the junior league Obama team may pull out what looks like a short term face saving measure. But in the long run, U.S. interests, and those of world peace, will suffer!

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