Wasn’t it just a week ago that we were all declaring President Obama a nincompoop because of the way he mishandled the Syria crisis?
Yes, it was. Left and right, everyone agreed that Obama was an idiot to draw a “red line” around Syria’s use of poison gas, a term that forced the president to respond when Syria used poison gas.
Left and right, everyone agreed that Obama’s threat of pinprick military measures in Syria could never force that country’s government to give up its poison gas.
None of us really had much of an idea of what policy we might have preferred – but we all agreed that Obama was doing it wrong.
Was that just a week ago? Well, yes it was. And during that week, the Americans and the Russians got together and forged an agreement that promises to eliminate Syria’s poison gas stock.
What we didn’t expect is that the American administration might not be operating within the confines of what we armchair generals assumed to be the parameters of tried and true options.
Now, I suppose this can all fall apart. But it would seem to me to be a really good resolution to this crisis. We wanted to get rid of Syria’s poison gas and Syria’s poison gas is going to disappear.
To be sure, Russian President Vladimir Putin ends up looking like a peacemaker. Many Americans hate that. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham issued a statement calling the agreement “an act of provocative weakness.”
But, honestly, who else but Putin could have pulled this off? We couldn’t pull it off. Bombing Syrian cities wouldn’t make the poison gas go away. It would surely kill many innocent Syrians – but it wouldn’t solve the problem. I know that because all of Obama’s critics, left and right, said so a week ago.
If our goal was to eliminate Syria’s poison gas, then, we hope, we achieved that goal. We achieved that goal without firing a shot. All we had to do was to treat the elected president of Russia as a partner in a common cause.
Seems like a win-win to me.
It didn’t solve the problems of Syria’s civil war. Government forces are still employing a reign of terror on innocent civilians. Revolutionary forces seem to include all sorts of Al Qaeda types who we really would rather not see ruling Syria (my guess is that Putin doesn’t either). Millions of Syrians are refugees, tens of thousands of Syrians are dead.
Still, a week ago, we were going to war to achieve some limited ends. We achieved those ends and we didn’t go to war.
That would seem like a cause of rejoicing.