Monday, September 16, 2013 at 6:57 AM

U.S. and Russia Strike Deal to Avert U.S. bombing Syria … for Now

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Marathon negotiations between U.S. and Russian diplomats at a Geneva hotel produced a sweeping agreement that will require one of the most ambitious arms-control efforts in history.

The deal involves making an inventory and seizing all components of Syria’s chemical weapons program and imposing penalties if President Bashar Assad’s government fails to comply will the terms.

(Associated Press, September 14, 2013)

Screen Shot 2013-09-14 at 8.34.43 PMThis agreement the United States struck with Russia/Syria today to avert “limited” military strikes may not be as gullible and foreseeable a blunder as the one Britain struck with Germany in 1938 to guarantee “Peace for Our Time.”

After all, where Germany made a mockery of that agreement by occupying the Sudetenland the very next day, chances are that Syria will feign compliance for at least a few months before making it plain that it has no more regard for its agreement with the United States than Germany had for its with Britain.

In the meantime, I am simply stupefied by all of the pundits (across the political spectrum) who are hailing this agreement as a diplomatic coup for Russian President Vladimir Putin – with some even hailing him as the new superpower broker in the Middle East. What patent nonsense!

For starters, these are the same pundits who just weeks ago were telling us that the reason Putin was so eager to stop President Obama from launching missile strikes against Syria is that this country is the only place in the region where Putin has any political clout. They were/are right.

Which is why their plaudits would only make sense if Putin had brokered a deal with respect to similar events in a country like Egypt or Libya, where Western powers have always held sway. Not to mention that Putin fatally undermined any commendation with his world-is-flat insistence — reinforced in his September 12 op-ed in the New York Times — that all evidence indicates it was Syrian rebels, not regime soldiers, who used chemical weapons.

Hell, with delusional puppetry like that, you could be forgiven for thinking that Russia’s Putin is Assad’s Rasputin. But I wish reporters had the balls to challenge Putin to present what evidence he has that implicates the rebels instead of blithely reporting his unreasonable doubts about the evidence that clearly implicates the regime.

Unknown-1Now bear in mind that the only reason Obama wanted to launch those strikes was to deter Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from ever using his chemical weapons again.

Therefore, I don’t see how this deal is a coup for Putin if he’s staking his reputation and influence on forcing his puppet dictator to do Obama’s bidding … and then some. After all, even if Obama had launched one million missiles, by definition he would’ve had to avoid hitting Assad’s chemical weapons, leaving the dictator to use them another, even more desperate day.

In which case, if anything, this deal would seem a diplomatic coup for Obama, no? That is, of course, if Assad complies. After all, it may be that Putin has no greater influence and control over Assad than Obama has over General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi – his putative puppet dictator in Egypt.

This is why the only question is: If (or when) Assad begins his cat-and-mouse games of noncompliance, will Obama follow the precedent his predecessors set by bombing without congressional authorization, or will he risk more national handwringing and personal humiliation by deferring to the fickle, ignorant “will of the American people [via vote of their representatives]” again.

No doubt Assad is banking on the latter, and a resounding no from Congress. But I think Obama will opt for the former, and merely inform Congress after Assad is taking cover in his bunker.

Related commentaries:
Russia and U.S. chess game for Syria

*  This commentary was originally published  Saturday, September 14, at 9:21 pm

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