Peace in our time: Syria says it’ll stop producing chemical weapons and will disclose locations of stockpiles

posted at 5:21 pm on September 10, 2013 by Allahpundit

As Heidi Heitkamp said this morning, don’t think of it as placing your trust in Assad. Think of it as placing your trust in Vladimir Putin.

An offer we can’t refuse?

According to Syrian state TV, Syria on Tuesday accepted Russia’s proposal to put its chemical weapons under international control, a day after Secretary of State John Kerry floated the idea in what appeared to be an off-the-cuff comment suggesting it would be the only way for Syria to avoid a punishing Western military strike.

Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said the country was ready to disclose the location of its chemical weapons, halt production and show facilities to representatives of Russia, the United Nations and other states, according to the Russian Interfax news agency.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that Russia is working on a “workable, clear, specific plan” and said it would be presented soon.

Moallem also said they’d sign the Chemical Weapons Convention. Whether that’s conditioned upon the U.S. renouncing force, as Putin suggested this morning, or something they’re going to do unconditionally is unclear. Good enough for the U.S. to save face, though? Not quite yet, says Kerry:

Secretary of State John Kerry says Syria must do more than just declare its chemical weapons stockpiles and sign the international treaty that bans them if it wants a Russian-led effort to avert U.S. military strikes to work.

Just minutes after Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime announced Tuesday that it would take those steps, Kerry said he hoped that it would “go further” in the interests of peace. He said the Syrian government must “live up to what they said just said they would do” and then cooperate with Russia “to work out a formula by which those weapons could be transferred to international control and destroyed.”

Assad’s not going to give up all of his gas but maybe he’ll give up enough to let the west claim “victory.” If worse comes to worst, Iran and/or Russia will resupply him down the line. We’ve reached the broken-record stage of Syria blogging at this point, so let me be a broken record on this point: All the White House really wants from this fiasco is a promise that Assad won’t cause them another headache by using WMD again. They don’t care if he owns chemical weapons, which Syria has had for decades. They don’t even much care if he uses them on a small, plausibly deniable scale. After all, U.S. intelligence looked the other way at Syrian gas attacks for more than a year, per the LA Times. What the west cares about is not being dragged into the Syrian maelstrom. Assad’s almost unpardonable sin here was using WMD on a large enough scale that the White House had to do something to save face. The unspoken deal was that he’s free to kill Syrians (preferably jihadis) in whatever numbers he likes so long as he respects the taboo against chem/bio/nuclear. When he crossed the line, he forced a situation where someone, either the U.S. or Assad himself, was going to lose face. And that’s a dangerous spot given how many major powers are involved in the Syria mess.

So, who volunteers to lose face in the name of resolving this diplomatically? Easy: Assad does, because ultimately he doesn’t care about that. He wants to win the war and hold onto power and he’s in the process of doing so. If he can keep the U.S. off the battlefield by eating a little crow, it’s worth it. The timing is perfect too since now Obama can claim “victory” in his speech tonight, which ought to further dampen Americans’ enthusiasm for a strike they already perceive as unnecessary. In fact, the closer Assad gets to winning, the more incentive he has to present himself as a kinda sorta “responsible” international player. If he does end up crushing the rebels, he’ll want to repair relations with the west as much as possible. Pretending to give up his WMD helps with that. The deal that you’re going to see at the UN, I suspect, is Putin agreeing that the U.S. shouldn’t have to take the threat of unilateral force off the table (which is fine since force won’t be used now) in return for us agreeing to water down the language of the eventual Security Council resolution so that Assad’s noncompliance doesn’t automatically trigger an attack. O wants to look tough without having to be tough. That’s the perfect way to give him what he wants. Putin’s blather this morning was just his way of pushing a demand that he knows he’ll have to concede later in return for something more valuable.

Kerry announced this afternoon that he’ll be meeting the Russian FM in Geneva on Thursday to discuss further terms of the face-saving disarmament, so let’s look forward to that. Exit quotation from young genius Ezra Klein:


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Comment pages: 1 2 3

Ezra Klein ✔
@ezraklein

I can’t believe the White House’s strategy stupidity on Syria is working out this well. I doubt they can, either.

FYI
You’re welcome.

ss396 on September 10, 2013 at 7:14 PM

Other than an uninterrupted oil supply, I’d like to know what Putin got got that favor.

thatsafactjack on September 10, 2013 at 7:11 PM

1. The tiny thug is now placed in the center of the world’s leadership chair arrangement.

2. obama defers and bows to him…given their height that’s funny in itself.

3. Putin controls Syria undeterred and without regard.

4. Asaad gets to fight in Syria, for 20-30 years, without Syria falling into who knows what hands.

5. Putin retains the significant port.

6. World respects Putin, for being a “statesman” without firing anything.

7. He still has Snowden and the Chinese with him.

8. So much more, oil too, as you said.

Schadenfreude on September 10, 2013 at 7:15 PM

I’m a huge fan of Erna Solberg so far, Norway’s new PM. :)

thatsafactjack on September 10, 2013 at 7:16 PM

Where, O, where did Lucky Pierre go?

Resist We Much on September 10, 2013 at 7:18 PM

Schadenfreude on September 10, 2013 at 7:15 PM

Yes, I agree, but he got those things through his own statesmanship. I’m wondering what he got specifically from Obama in exchange for the bailout. I believe there was a deal. Putin wanted something specific from the US,some concession, and I think Obama gave it to him. I just don’t know what it is. I suspect it has something to do with disarmament.

thatsafactjack on September 10, 2013 at 7:18 PM

Yes. I’m going to have to watch it… much as I hate to do it.

I want to be able to give a first hand critique for the benefit of the troll class.

thatsafactjack on September 10, 2013 at 7:12 PM

Cover the white carpet, first :)

Schadenfreude on September 10, 2013 at 7:19 PM

Where, O, where did Lucky Pierre go?

Resist We Much on September 10, 2013 at 7:18 PM

rotf — you enjoy your chosen occupation entirely too much. :)

Axe on September 10, 2013 at 7:19 PM

Resist We Much on September 10, 2013 at 7:18 PM

From the middle back to the left?

Bmore on September 10, 2013 at 7:19 PM

Schadenfreude on September 10, 2013 at 7:19 PM

LOL! Yes… I think I’ll watch it poolside…just to be safe. The pool deck is stone, it washes off easily. :)

thatsafactjack on September 10, 2013 at 7:20 PM

“I will be NY’s next mayor” — how delusional Weiner and the leftards really are.

We live in indecent times.

Schadenfreude on September 10, 2013 at 7:20 PM

Yes. I’m going to have to watch it… much as I hate to do it.

I want to be able to give a first hand critique for the benefit of the troll class.

thatsafactjack on September 10, 2013 at 7:12 PM

Cover the white carpet, first :)

Schadenfreude on September 10, 2013 at 7:19 PM

I don’t know. I haven’t watch one. My reaction is always intense and visceral. I don’t know if I can do 15 minutes of Obama. Seriously.

Axe on September 10, 2013 at 7:20 PM

thatsafactjack on September 10, 2013 at 7:20 PM

I’ve never watched him, ever, for a full speech. I’ll defy hurl-inducing urges to do so tonight, for the historical entertainment factor. Too bad for the land.

——–
Bmore, you got to show me something? I missed you the other day.

Schadenfreude on September 10, 2013 at 7:22 PM

From the middle back to the left?

Bmore on September 10, 2013 at 7:19 PM

Ha! Check the mattress crack.

Axe on September 10, 2013 at 7:22 PM

rotf — you enjoy your chosen occupation entirely too much. :)

Axe on September 10, 2013 at 7:19 PM

^5…and, I’m very good at it.

Après l’idiotie, le déluge!!!!

Bmore: Yeppers…and scouring FactCheck.org for evidence of my being wrong.

Resist We Much on September 10, 2013 at 7:23 PM

Schadenfreude on September 10, 2013 at 7:22 PM

Not quite ready. ; )

Bmore on September 10, 2013 at 7:24 PM

Axe on September 10, 2013 at 7:20 PM

I generally skip the speeches, myself, but I did watch the debates… all of them… for the sake of the team.

It …was… awful.

But I will watch this one to see him lie, outright, to see him try to spin, to see if he goes off teleprompter and makes a historic gaffe as big, or bigger, than the one he’s already created.

This is a turning point. I want to see how he has been taking the fact that even the Democrats in the senate couldn’t come up with enough confidence to get him to 50 votes.. much less 51.

We’ve seen him basking in unearned praise. I want to see him in the spotlight of derision.

thatsafactjack on September 10, 2013 at 7:24 PM

Ok Bmore…I was just following up…

Schadenfreude on September 10, 2013 at 7:24 PM

Later. Need to reload :)

Schadenfreude on September 10, 2013 at 7:26 PM

Good stuff

Schadenfreude on September 10, 2013 at 7:33 PM

Good stuff

Schadenfreude on September 10, 2013 at 7:33 PM

…yes it is!

KOOLAID2 on September 10, 2013 at 7:36 PM

Resist We Much on September 10, 2013 at 6:23 PM

I love your blog.

txhsmom on September 10, 2013 at 7:40 PM

Sorry, Ezra, but since when is “Oh s***” a strategy?

IndieDogg on September 10, 2013 at 7:42 PM

From the middle back to the left?

Bmore on September 10, 2013 at 7:19 PM

Ha! Check the mattress crack.

Axe on September 10, 2013 at 7:22 PM

But, beware of handling the loose change.

Hand sanitiser, please!

I love your blog.

txhsmom on September 10, 2013 at 7:40 PM

TYVVM. That’s very kind!

Resist We Much on September 10, 2013 at 7:43 PM

Are they really going to say this is victory? I think they are. I am so ashamed.

petunia on September 10, 2013 at 8:40 PM

Oh, man.

Whatever you do, DON’T click the ‘Obama + Unicorn’ link.

He’s the Obamamessiah!

- The Residents of My Progressive Little Ponyland

Resist We Much on September 10, 2013 at 8:44 PM

The unspoken deal was that he’s free to kill Syrians (preferably jihadis) in whatever numbers he likes so long as he respects the taboo against chem/bio/nuclear.

Except that Assad is the client of jihadi state, Iran.

AshleyTKing on September 10, 2013 at 9:26 PM

OBozo’s Clown presidency takes its next logical step – from the absurd to the surreal.

Jaibones on September 10, 2013 at 9:48 PM

Wonderful – Assad agrees to give up his chemical weapons (like Saddam Hussein before him) and if he honestly does so (big if) – only the Jabhat al-Nusra will have chemical weapons, So what does this idiotic exercise accomplish in the end?

Truth be told, many middle east observers do not believe that it was Assad who set off the gas that killed Syrian civilians.

herdgadfly on September 10, 2013 at 10:18 PM

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