David Cameron sounds pretty excited about it too. Did Waffles bumble his way into a “solution” to the crisis? Here’s the presumptive Democratic nominee creating a little rhetorical space for her party to declare victory and walk away:
“If the regime immediately surrendered its stockpiles to international control, as was suggested by Secretary [John] Kerry and the Russians, that would be an important step,” Clinton said. “But this cannot be another excuse for delay or obstruction. Russia has to support the international community’s efforts sincerely, or be held to account.”
Clinton also defended Obama’s push for strikes as instrumental in making such a political settlement possible.
“It is very important to note that this discussion that has taken hold today, about potential international control over Syria’s stockpiles, only could take place in the context of a credible military threat by the United States to keep pressure on the Syrian government as well as those supporting Syria, like Russia,” she said.
GOP Rep. Mike Rogers, chair of the House Intel Committee and devout hawk, made the same point earlier. Apparently, if not for Obama’s heroic half-hearted saber-rattling, Assad would be free to flaunt his chemical weapons openly instead of pretending to turn them over while continuing to slaughter Sunnis en masse. There’s your Hillary 2016 foreign-policy bumper sticker.
This isn’t the only help she’s given to the White House on the big Syria push either; she called Schumer and Mark Pryor this past weekend to try to sell them on voting yes. Pryor, as far as I know, is still a firm no today on attacking. Meanwhile, in Syria:
Syrian doctor called me, furious. Desperate. Says if US doesn't do strike, all rebels will grow hopeless, become al Qaeda.
— Richard Engel (@RichardEngel) September 9, 2013
Ace asks: With Obama headed for catastrophe in Congress on Syria, why would Putin and Assad offer to bail him out by backing the big “international WMD confiscation” charade? The answer, I think, is that there’s risk for them too in a U.S. attack. Even if the first round is “unbelievably small,” there’s no guarantee that there wouldn’t be a second round and that that would be bigger. When you’re winning on the battlefield, as Assad is, you do what you can to keep the west’s hyperpower away. To turn the question around, what’s to be gained at this point by brinksmanship with O over the boutique issue of chemical weapons? Assad’s already defied him on the red line; Obama’s already been humiliated by the spectacle of Congress and the public turning against his Syria adventure. No one in the west, the White House included, seems willing to do anything to stop Assad from killing tens of thousands more people so long as he uses conventional weapons. The interested players on Assad’s side don’t want to defeat the U.S. in Syria, they simply want the U.S. to keep its distance while they advance their interests. If that means helping O save face (while quietly boasting that he needed his nemesis, Vladimir Putin, to bail him out), that’s fine. In fact, there’s a bonus for them in all this in reinforcing the “international norm” that weapons inspections, not military strikes, are the way to go to prevent bad actors from acting out. That’ll come in handy for Iran later when Israel announces that the moment of truth for their enrichment facilities has come.
Two clips for you here, one of Hillary endorsing Kerry’s idea (with qualifications) and the other of Harry Reid going full Godwin to try to move fencesitters in Congress. It’ll be fun, if the White House ends up backing the Kerry gaffe/plan, to watch party hacks like Reid instantly shift from “you can’t contain to a neo-Hitler like Assad!” to “well, I guess you can.” Kerry did say this was another Munich situation, right? Exit quotation via John Sexton:
Obama created the red line. Kerry created the red eraser.
— John Sexton (@verumserum) September 9, 2013