Can Vladimir Putin’s Nobel Peace Prize be long in coming?
Let’s not focus on the fact that Putin continues to arm Assad to the teeth with attack helicopters, sniper and assault rifles, weapons platforms such as the S300 missile system (confirmed this morning), ammunition, and bombs. And let’s not focus on the fact that Putin has opened wide the tap that supplies the Syrian Army with diesel fuel and gasoil. And let’s not focus on the fact that the chemical weapons that were used in the gas attack two weeks ago were mounted on Russian missiles.
No, let’s look on the peaceful bright side. Remember how it was not too long ago that Putin offered to put Russian “peacekeepers” in the demilitarized zone on the Golan Heights? And what about Russia’s continuing struggle in the United Nations to stop the United States from taking military action against Syria? But all of this pales in comparison to last night’s nobelesque news that Putin is now offering to supervise the inventorying, quarantining, and eventual destroying of Syria’s chemical weapons.
What a gesture, what an effort to avert the ever diminishing military strike against Assad’s infrastructure (Kerry yesterday: it will be “unbelievably small”), what an offer to get Barack Obama off the limb high up in his tree. What unadulterated nonsense.
Having the Russians oversee the Syrian chemical arsenal or patrol the Golan is like asking the Iranians to oversee the dismantling of the Hezbollah arsenal of missiles in southern Lebanon and patrol Lebanon’s border with Israel.
To repeat two points made in previous israelstreet blogs:
1. President Obama never wanted to attack Syria. This is not even debatable. Had he wanted to attack he would have attacked. Seeking Congressional approval was nothing but a smokescreen. He must have been kissing Putin in his dreams last night.
2. The United States is a diminished world power. This is not even debatable. With the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff declaring before Congress that he was not even sure if the U.S. could carry out an effective limited strike, there are no other conclusions to draw. But the bottom line is not Syria: President Obama would never lead a strike against Iran.
Finally, a few last observations for the record.
U.S. foreign policy is in shambles. It was Obama’s amateurish statements about Syria that got him into the Syrian mess to begin with–a mess in which the U.S. had no business. It was Kerry’s bumbling at a press conference yesterday that gave Putin the opening he needed.
The truly astonishing aspect of this particular foreign policy debacle is that even up to now, President Obama has never been able to articulate a strategic reason why the U.S. should attack Syria.
Was it supposed to have been a demonstration to the world about how the moral U.S. keeps its word about a chemical weapons red line? This is a faux argument; it never was the word of the U.S. that was on the line; it was the word of an inept U.S. president. And what about the smaller chemical attacks that took place before the recent one that killed 1421 Syrians?
Was it supposed to have been the overthrow of Assad? In return for what? Two days ago, it was reported that the Syrian rebels had overrun the ancient Syrian Christian community of Maaloula (famous for its Aramaic speakers) attacking homes and churches and threatening to behead anyone who did not convert to Islam on the spot. If the despotic and barbaric Assad ever is defeated, he will be replaced by despotic barbaric Islamists.
Was it supposed to show Iran that it can also be attacked in order to stop its nuclear weapons program? As your humble servant has written all along, if Iran does not already have a crude nuclear bomb (which only requires 20% refined uranium), it will soon have a refined nuclear weapon despite anything that the U.S. or Israel or anyone else can do about it. There are too many centrifuges in too many hardened bunkers in too many locations across Iran for anyone to stop the Iranians–who, by the way, have no problem procuring uranium or nuclear weapons parts despite all of the sanctions (by the way, Obama just issued 11 more countries exemptions to those sanctions).
Or was it simply to save face and not have Assad or Khamenei or the rest of Muslim world laughing at the U.S.? They were already laughing at the U.S. The day after the proposed 3-day, 50-target “limited strike” would have taken place, Assad would have climbed out of his bunker and declared victory. In the end, the Syrian debacle will go down in history as just one more tawdry chapter in Obama foreign policy alongside the throwing of long-time ally Hosni Mubarak under the bus.
But there is at least one piece of possibly good news. This morning the U.S. Senate has delayed a vote on Obama’s Syrian Authorization Resolution as Obama has latched onto the Putin Initiative. If no vote ends up being taken in the Senate and the House, perhaps Benjamin Netanyahu and AIPAC will be spared the embarrassment of what would have been a humiliating defeat. Perhaps Putin deserves a medal just for that.