It appears that instead of a military confrontation with the Assad regime, the combination of John Kerry’s loose tongue and Sergei Lavrov’s assuaging of the Assadist camp being the responsible parties. Instead, it seems that the idea of diplomacy working has won out. After the bells of war were rung from the White House, it was clear that the Russian government and the American government were clearly taking different tracks publicly to force the Assad regime to submit to international pressure and get rid of its chemical weapons stockpiles.
But pay no attention to the fact that the red line had been crossed, chemical weapons had been used, and the rhetoric turned to punitive action. If this was a piece of theater orchestrated by both the Russians and Americans, it was bloody well brilliant. If not, then it looks like we have the slightly weaker spines, but we still get Syria to give up control of their chemical weapons caches and submit to international norms on chemical weapons, which is to say signing the treaty barring their use.* I hope above hope that it truly was well-orchestrated political theater. There’s nothing quite like that.
This should satisfy the portion of the President’s liberal base who were vocally opposing any military engagement with Syria. (Remember Iraq? being a common theme.) It should also satisfy the great majority of us who don’t want to stick our noses into Syrian soil, be it with missiles or boots. Now, whether the Assad regime complies with this agreement to stave off imminent American action remains to be seen. If they do not comply, I think all bets are off the table. I doubt Russia will be too pleased with them and the egg on Putin’s and Lavrov’s faces may be too much to deal with.
But the point remains – we’ve successfully avoided going into Syria (for the time being). And the conflict continues its intractable course.
*We, the United States, are also signatory. But we’re above international law. In all likelihood, the Russians are also above international law.