The Syria crisis doesn’t look like it’s going away. It looks like it’s escalating.
What if Russia doesn’t get Assad to hand over his entire chemical weapons arsenal, as Obama – backed loudly, of course, by Netanyahu – is demanding? Is Obama going to bomb Syria like he’s been threatening? At this point, with Putin so deeply involved in trying to prevent an American attack, and with Washington and Moscow now walking hand-in-hand at the front of this crisis, a US strike on Syria would risk a US war with Russia.
Yet does anyone believe Assad is going to give up his vast reservoir of chemical weapons? I don’t. Is Putin going to force him to? I don’t think so, because if Putin does, he will look like he’s doing so out of fear of America’s raised fist – and that is absolutely the last thing on earth Putin wants to do or appear to be doing.
But that is America’s demand. And Obama, with speech after speech, has by now gone so far out on a limb with his military threats, that the idea that he will settle for Assad doing anything but trashing every last one of his chemical weapons ASAP is hard to imagine. He keeps raising the stakes – and now he’s on a collision course not with Assad, but with Putin.
The sane majority in America and the rest of the world is relieved at the recent developments that have put off a US attack. That sane majority wants Obama to forget about attacking, period, and hopes the crisis is now about to peter out, and then Syria will go back to being a local or at worst regional problem.
But Kerry is in Geneva today for two days of urgent talks with the Russian foreign minister about getting rid of all of Assad’s chemical weapons. The White House, helpful as ever, asserts that “Russia is now putting its prestige on the line.” Very shrewd – lean into Putin publicly, that’ll bring him around.
This thing doesn’t look like it’s going away. It looks like it’s escalating.
And it’s all about the President of the United States having to prove that when he draws a line in the sand, or a red line, or any damn line he wants, nobody better dare cross it. Assad – he crossed it. And if Putin doesn’t deliver Assad pronto, he’s crossed it, too.
The march of folly doesn’t seem to stop for long.