Russia helps Obama dodge the Syrian bullet
You have to be suspicious about a plan emanating from Russia. But the way things have turned out, there is an intersection of interests between Moscow and Washington
But to ensure that Russia's proposal isn't just a stalling tactic to benefit Assad, there should be very specific requirements and deadlines, any willful violation of which authorizes military action. The Assad regime must disclose a complete and accurate list of chemical weapons sites and materials, and this list must be verified and modified as needed using the best military intelligence available to the U.S. and its allies.
A timetable for the confirmed removal and destruction of all chemical weapons must involve just enough time for the disarmament to be done safely and should include detailed milestones that can be easily monitored.
The biggest challenge will be establishing an efficient and safe disarmament process that can be reasonably executed and verified in the middle of a civil war, while minimizing the opportunity for Syrian rebels to exploit the situation by trying to seize the chemical weapons and/or causing the Assad regime to violate its commitments under the disarmament schedule.
Force might still be required to enforce any agreement with the ruthless and mendacious Assad regime, but the justification -- and the domestic and international support -- for military action will then be far greater.
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