Today is Saturday, September 14, 2013. I was gone for a week on a little mini-vacation and in that time no new topic has emerged in the news that changes our focus and attention. The same topics that were being reported and discussed a week ago, are the same topics being reported and discussed today. There was a tense build up to what many thought would be an attack on Syria, but that tension was diffused. Russia seems to be in the spot light both for the anti-gay issues and the Olympics as well as its relationship with Syria. Now, the U.N. is involved, which is something new, but it remains to be seen whether they will be able to force Syria to report on its chemical weapons within the next two weeks.
It seems Russia will play the key role here. On the one hand, they want to support Assad, but it is too embarrassing for Putin to be associated with anything like chemical weapons. He wants Russia to be an important player in the world, and letting Assad off the hook would undermine Putin’s efforts to re-create Russia as a world power with significant influence. It would put Russia in a serious international bind if the U.S. attacked Syria over this issue. I don’t think Obama ever really wanted to strike Syria, but for dramatic effect rattled swords and beat the drums. In the end, he moved to diplomacy to resolve the issue. Some will say Obama is ‘spineless’ because he didn’t attack. Others will say he was ‘brilliant’ for maneuvering the situation with Putin to get the diplomatic negotiations going. It doesn’t matter to me. At this point, an act of war has been avoided–that can only be a good thing. Russia and the U.S. are about to make an agreement regarding Syria and the U.N. has been brought into the process. I can only see this as a positive turn of events. Obama will be seen as more reasonable than impetuous and Putin will be seen as more a statesman than former KGB super spy. Assad will lose face in the Middle East and retreat to a more subordinate position relative to the UN, the US and Russia. Hopefully, all of this will be the beginning of the end for this bloody mess in Syria.