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Obama puts U.S. on collision course with Russia

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.

Related:
Obama’s handling of Syria crisis revives Bibi’s hopes of bombing Iran
U.S. Jewish groups use Holocaust guilt to push for Syria strike

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Richard Witty

      A lot to worry about certainly.

      But, Russia blinks. It also does not want a fight.

      It has just emerged from the post-USSR breakup, after close to a decade immediately after the breakup of real struggle.

      Putin also faces political opposition and the possibility of escalation to war over Syria is nearly equally irrelevant to the Russian populace, though he has more of a loyal passive following than Obama who encourages his supporters to think and challenge him.

      It could get back to a limited strike, and spun that Russia and Syria are liars.

      Syria has an interest in giving up its chemical weapons. They are clearly a security burden to them. They state, and it may be true, that rebels have taken some of the weapons, used them carelessly and endangered Syrian safety and security.

      The spread of chemical weapons already to terrorists, is a basis of the American militarist conservative urging for boots on the ground as necessary.

      The EU is more threatened by a Syrian escalation with Russia, as it is very unlikely that conflict will get played out directly between the two parties, but more likely between proxies.

      The easiest proxies are those that neither particularly care about, Iraq, Iran. Syria is more important to the US for its long alliance with Russia and US affinity to Israel.

      The next proxies are in the Mediterranean or Eastern Europe again. Former Yugoslavia was also contentious between Russia and the US, with Russian support for the Serbs at the time.

      Reply to Comment
    2. People who seem to know something about chemical weapons say that it could take up to 10 years to clean up the country, and it would require tens of thousands of troups to do the job.
      There Kerry was right: “It cannot be done.” Not in a couple of weeks.
      And Israel will naturally not cooperate to achieve a less dangerous Middle East, since they did not ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention, did not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, nor the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
      The alleged “sarin attack” was just a smoke screen to cover up for a bigger plan for which they will invent a new trick in the near future. In the mean time the USA/Israel are busy sending weapons to terrorists so at least the slaughter can go on while they are talking.

      Reply to Comment
    3. aristeides

      This is an excellently shrewd move on the part of Putin/Assad that exposes the deep stupidity of the Obama administration by fixating on the non-issue of chemical weapons.

      Unlike the case with Iran, Syria has no real need for chemical weapons. WWI proved how unreliable these can be in actual combat. You can kill people with conventional weapons just as dead as with gas.

      What Assad wants is a free hand to keep control of the country and kill his opponents. He doesn’t need chemicals to do this. By agreeing to give them up, he effectively gains this free hand to use conventional means, which kill just as dead as chemicals, and makes himself appear reasonable and conciliatory to the part of the world willing to believe his “fighting terrorists” story.

      In the meantime, Putin has succeeded in making Obama look impotent and incompetent, which isn’t very hard. Obama dug this bear trap for himself, then stepped right in it.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Laurent Szyster

      Yeah, forget the war between Israel and Iran that Larry has kept announcing “real soon now” for the last decade or so.

      Tune in the new doomsday scenario !

      US is on a collision course with Russia tells us the geostrategic grepser, soon balistic missiles will rain down across the globe, real soon now …

      Reply to Comment
    5. Eric

      Larry, your thoughts: Maybe Obama, Kerry, and Putin have staged this entire thing, so as to pressure Assad, save face for Obama, and make Putin look statesmanlike? Or do you really believe that Obama & Kerry are just incompetent and Putin a devious opportunist?

      Reply to Comment
      • No, it wasn’t staged, it was sort of a comedy of errors.

        Reply to Comment
    6. Johnboy

      Everyone should note that Syria has ALREADY rushed to deposit its application to join the Chemical Weapons Convention to the UN Secretariat.

      Assad is, clearly, deadly serious about joining the CWC and, with it, committing his government to the complete destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile.

      But that happens under the auspices of the OPCW, who are tasked by the CWC with that job.

      The OPCW isn’t the UNSC. It isn’t even a UN agency.

      There is simply no way that Obama can elbow his way into this process **unless** Putin invites him in. And Putin has no reason to do so.

      That is a very important point i.e. once Syria signs the CWC then the mechanics of disposing of its stockpile automatically follows the steps that are defined IN THE TREATY ITSELF.

      And that means that:
      a) Obama can be stopped by the Russians from interfering with that process while
      b) Obama CAN’T stop the Russians from pursuing that Nobel Peace Price for Lavrov and Putin.

      All that Obama can do is stand on the sidelines and shake his fists at the players. He can’t himself run onto the field, not unless the other players invite him over.

      And they have no incentive to invite him to play, precisely because he plays dirty.

      Reply to Comment
    7. We all see what we want to see, as long as we can, I guess. I’m no different. I see a Russia that does not want an insurgent instability point near its southwest. I see disbelief in the integrity of ground command and control with realization that Assad does not have to approve something for it to occur, plus great uneasiness of weapons capture. So the accusations that insurgents were responsible for August have stopped and Assad, worried about the effects of a strike on the civil war, pressed by Russia, now says he will agree to chemical removal. Russia has no desire to be an ally of Iran over nuclear weapons, nor of anyone over used chemical weapons.

      If weapons removal takes on any semblance of reality, further use places Russia in a corner. If Obama’s goal is the prevention of further use, Putin has released O from his own corner with Congress. If Russia truly presses, with international observers on the ground, the goal of restoring command/control over these weapons may well be met (and I think this the real reason for Obama’s threat). Whoever in the Syrian regime used chemicals made a serious mistake. I don’t think it was Assad, and that is how he can play so innocent. But the Russians seem to believe someone therein did, and that is why they are willing to try remove the material. O and P are not so far apart, absent rhetoric.

      But this just fits what I want to believe. It fits what I saw in the first stages of the conflict, when security killed people at funerals; and, much later, when Alawite dominate areas purged local Sunni villages. In both cases I thought Assad reacted to rather than orders such events. I think the same now.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Vadim

      Larry, I disagree with much of what you write, but I don’t think you were ever so far from the truth.

      Obama, for once, tried to do the RIGHT thing (or at least claimed he did). A message must be sent – some things must not be accepted by the civilized world.

      Putin, heeding his own interests (not Russia’s, HIS OWN), the same interests that cause him to assist Iran – came to the help of Assad.

      We all know that Assad will keep his weapons. We all know the lesson he got from this. We all know what lesson Iran got from this. We all know what lesson Putin got this.

      So much suffering and evil could have been prevented by a swift and massive show of force, instead we got a massive show of impotence.

      So no, it’s not Obama who has put the US on a collision course with Russia (Putin to be exact). It is Putin who has set himself on a collision course with the US, counting on liberals \ progressives and their defeatist attitude to assist.

      And no, the SANE majority in the US and the rest of the world – knows that something bad has happened and will pay for it tenfold. We are not relieved.

      Reply to Comment

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