Syria Crisis Hasn't Been Magically Resolved -- There's a Lot More Cruel Tricks and War Games Coming Down the Pike
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The frantic spin of the millisecond is that the White House is taking a "hard look" at the Russian proposal for Bashar al-Assad to place Syria's chemical weapons arsenal under UN control, thus defusing (or at least postponing) yet another US war in the Middle East.
Oh, the joys of the geopolitical chessboard - Russia throwing a lifeline to save US President Barack Obama from his self-spun "red line".
True diplomats are supposed to prevent wars - not pose as warmongers. American exceptionalism is of course exempted. So just as Secretary of State John Kerry had the pedal on the metal selling in a London press conference yet another war, his beat up Chevy was overtaken by a diplomatic Maserati: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
This was Kerry's slip: "... [Assad] could turn over any single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. Turn it over. All of it. And without delay and allow the full and total accounting for that. But he isn't about to do it, and it can't be done obviously."
It can be done, obviously, as Lavrov turned Kerry's move against him - forwarding a two-step proposal to Damascus: Syria turns its chemical weapons to UN control and later agrees with their destruction, as well as joining the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem lost no time in agreeing. The devil, of course, is in the fine print.
Somebody help me! What's the message?
Predictably, all hell broke loose at the State Department. Damn! Bloody Russki peacenik! A Kerry spokeswoman said this was a "rhetorical argument". It was just "talk". Damascus and Moscow have a horrible track record. This was just a "stalling tactic''. Washington could not trust Assad. And even if there was a "serious" proposal, that would not delay the White House's push to sell its war in the US Congress.
Yet two hours later, closet future US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton saw it as ... a serious proposal, "suggested by Secretary Kerry and the Russians". And she made clear she was for it after meeting with Obama himself.
Meanwhile, the bat-shit crazy department kept the pedal on the metal, with National Security Adviser Susan "Wolfowitz" Rice busy warning that chemical attacks in Syria are a "serious threat to our national security" including to "citizens at home''. What, no "mushroom cloud"?
Yet just as "on message" was up in smoke, magically, deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf and Hillary herself started talking in unison (somebody forgot to brief Rice). And the White House decided to take its "hard look". Sort of. Because expectations are not that high. And the push to war in the US Congress is bound to continue.
Not even hardcore Beltway junkies have been able to keep track in real time of the Obama administration's ever-shifting "policy". This is how it (theoretically) stands. "Assad is responsible for the gas attack." Translation; he did not order it, directly (no one with half a brain, apart from the Return of the Living Dead neo-cons, believes the current White House "evidence" sticks). But he's still "responsible". And even if Jabhat al-Nusra did it - with "kitchen sarin" imported from Iraq, as I proposed here - Assad is still "responsible"; after all he must protect Syrian citizens.
In his Monday TV Anschluss, Obama, clinging to the lifeline, was quick to steal Lavrov's credit, saying he had "discussed" the broad outlook of what Russia announced directly with Putin at the Group of 20 summit last week. This has not been corroborated by Moscow.
Obama told CNN this was a "potentially positive thought''. And he was keen to stress it only happened not because his Designated War Salesman slipped, but because of a "credible military threat''. To NBC, he kept peddling what Kerry defined as an "unbelievably small" attack; the US "can strike without provoking a counter-attack". Yet to CNN he admitted, "the notion that Mr Assad could significantly threaten the United States is just not the case''. So why the need for the "unbelievably small" kinetic whatever? That's too much of a metaphysical question for US journalism.
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