What’s truly fascinating in this picture is that the main official flirting with the idea of a working arrangement with Assad is President Obama himself. Administration officials explain his reasoning, privately, as follows:

First and foremost, he’s unalterably against the U.S. getting immersed in any sort of new ground war in the Middle East.

Second, he is much more skeptical than his subordinates about the Sunni rebels getting stronger in any near-term sense, and about America’s current allies contributing significant ground troops to the joint effort.

Third, he realizes that the Islamic State cannot be checked or in the end defeated without strong ground troops.

Fourth, as much as he despises Assad, he understands more than his colleagues do that the jihadis are a far greater threat to American national security and to our allies than Assad ever was or will be.