Did Putin make a loser or a winner out of Obama on Syria?

Obama has handed the smoking petard to Putin. Like the loser in ‘pass the parcel’, Putin has nowhere to put it

by Robin Mitchinson on 20 September 2013 14:53

There’s no doubt about it; when Obama set out to drain the Syrian swamp, he quickly found himself up to his arse in alligators.

He shouldn’t be let out without a teleprompter; his ‘red lines’ off-the-cuff gaffe was quickly met by Assad crossing them, a masterstroke of two-finger diplomacy.

To get off the hook, he followed David Cameron by taking the war-question to the Tribunes of the people (quite unnecessarily because the power of decision rested with the two leaders), knowing that he would lose. With one bound Barack would be free.

The chattering classes called him ‘weak’, ‘indecisive’, ‘vacillating’, ‘dithering’ – you get the idea.

According to them, he was shafted by Vlad the Impaler who even had the chutzpah to publish a condescending piece in America’s newspaper of record, the NYT. Putin had placed himself as the arbiter of events in the MENA by getting Assad to reveal the dispositions of his WMD and get rid of them.

He became a world statesman, showing the callow occupant of the White House how the grown-ups do it. Russia is now King of the Midden; America has been humiliated.

Except that this analysis is completely wrong.

What has happened is that Obama has handed the smoking petard to Putin. Like the loser in ‘pass the parcel’, Putin has nowhere to put it. Putin has given Obama a ‘get out of jail, free’ card. Syria is now Russia’s problem, not America’s. Obama has fallen with his bum in butter, to use the old expression.

And the present outcome? A win-win-win-win one. Cameron was able to tell Obama ‘It wasn’t me, guv’.

Obama has dumped the problem. Putin can now swagger and strut the world, having reset Russia as a super-power. And Assad? Well, he’s the real winner.

He was not losing the shooting war, although he wasn’t winning it just yet. Once the West started to think about the aftermath when the last bomb had fallen, it began to have visions of a replay of the aftermath of Gulf 2.

No acceptable political alternative was in view, but the likely future was brought into focus when rebel groups began to execute harmless Christians. Toppling Assad without there being an acceptable successor seemed like the madness it truly was. An Al Qaeda regime in our backyard?

So Assad has to stay. Game, set, match.

And now he  is demanding $1 billion from Obama to pay for his WMD disposal. Now that’s what I call chutzpah!

‘And what became of it at last?’ quoth Little Peterkin.

‘Why, that I cannot tell’ said he ‘ but ‘twas a famous victory’.

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