A distressing piece of news analysis from the Associated Press is giving us second thoughts, however. Lara Jakes is reporting that the President’s reluctance in Syria isn’t about the risks and dangers of intervention, or about the difficulties in distinguishing between the ‘good’ rebels and terrorists and radicals linked to Al-Qaeda, or even about concerns over Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn rule.

Ms Jakes is reporting that President Obama has had another reason for standing back as Syria bleeds: he’s hoping that American restraint on Syria will persuade Iran to give up on nuclear weapons. Tehran would be that much less likely to make concessions on its nuclear program, the Administration is apparently thinking, if it’s also fighting American-backed rebels in Syria. “The White House has at least for now put the nuclear negotiations ahead of intervening in Syria,” Jakes says, citing “diplomats, former Obama administration officials and experts.”…

The struggle in Syria is a vital one for Tehran, and the mullahs are watching American policy with cold and utterly unsympathetic eyes. They know quite well that breaking Assad and his Hezbollah client in Lebanon would be a decisive blow to Iran’s regional strategy. They live in terror that the blow will fall; they are braced for it already. But if the AP story is right, they see something amazing: President Obama has stayed his hand, he is offering Assad a chance to hold power, he is betraying his Israeli and his Sunni Arab and Turkish allies and he is letting tens of thousands of Syrians die in horror and pain… because he really, really hopes Iran will let him off the hook and give him a way out of the nuclear standoff that doesn’t involve a war.