What happened yesterday?
Obama played chess while most played checkers
First, Kerry in response to a questions suggested that an alternative to an attack would be for the Assad regime to hand over its chemical weapons. This idea had been bounced around for more than a year at State and was discussed with Putin as Obama confirmed in his interview with Chris Wallace
Then, Kerry, having offered the option, seemed to pull it back (as White House staff and Obama himself seemed to do later in the day) forcing both Russia and Syria to grab for it
Then, the Russian foreign minister, clearly with Putin’s approbation, hurriedly made a statement that Russia regarded such a course of action as sensible and suggested that such weapons should be handed over to an international authority.
Then, the Syrian foreign minister, joining in quickly, said that Syria would accept such an arrangement.
Then, the Secretary General of the UN suggested that those chemical weapons having been placed under international control should then be destroyed.
Then, members of Congress began speaking up in support of the idea.
Then, the Dept of State issued a statement that the idea deserved consideration but they wanted to see the Russian proposal.
Then, Obama said he was open to the idea and that such a development could be a breakthrough.
Then, Russia announced it was pursuing with the authorities in Damascus on a “workable, precise and concrete plan” to carry the proposal forward.
Then, France’s Hollande, undoubtedly in concert with Washington, said that he would take a resolution to the UN’s Security Council. China has now endorsed the proposal.
In the meantime, the Senate is recrafting its resolution of support..and the House? Lacking leadership it’s as muddled as usual.
HERE IS WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN THE LINES:
1) Syria admitted to having chemical weapons having denied this just two days ago with Charlie Rose.
2) Syria admitted that their removal would defuse the situation: a defacto admission that they were used.
3) Syria did not try to blame anyone else for the attack: rebels or the U.S.
4) Russia accepted that the U.S. case was strong and had to be addressed setting aside its own earlier reporting.
5) The Russian/Syrian statements move the issue back onto the international stage meaning that the UN is back in play.
6) The Russian/Syrian statements strengthened the case for intervention if the offer is not acted upon.
7) The movement back onto the international stage pushes the allies to step up as well.
8) The entire situation provides Congress with an “out.” Having primed itself to say NO, this seems to indicate that the threat of YES is powerful.
Obama-Kerry-Hagele-Dempsey….the right moves at the right time.