September 10, 2013

Obama HAS to blink now

Russia president Vladimir Putin issued a flawed analysis that amounts to an ultimatum to the United States.  As a result, the president who has painted himself into a very tiny corner on Syria just might be right - this could cost him any relevance for the remainder of his presidency.  His presidency is at stake in a sense as he has apparently told Democrats.  So he can't blink.  Except he has to blink.

Via RT, Putin's ultimatum.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Syria’s chemical arms handover will only work if the US and its allies renounce the use of force against Damascus.

"Of course, all of this will only mean anything if the United States and other nations supporting it tell us that they're giving up their plan to use force against Syria. You can’t really ask Syria, or any other country, to disarm unilaterally while military action against it is being contemplated," President Putin said on Tuesday.
That doesn't sound like grandstanding or sabre-rattling, but make no mistake, Putin knows he has Obama over a barrel of his own making and he's not about to let him go.  The comment is seriously flawed of course.  Demanding Syria hand over its entire chemical weapons arsenal is not the same as asking Syria to disarm.  The Syrian military will still possess conventional weapons.  They are not unilaterally disarming by any stretch of the imagination.
Nevertheless, Putin has drawn his own red line - renounce the option to take military action or we will not support the plan we proposed to allow Obama to squirm out of military action in the first place.  Backing down will make Obama look exceptionally weak now.
That said, he did hand off the decision to authorize force to the Congress because he didn't want it.  Not that he didn't want to use force necessarily, he just didn't want to be held responsible for the decision to use force.  It's above his pay grade.  But now Obama HAS to blink in the face of Putin's threat. 
Not blinking means Syria will not surrender its weapons and Russia will not support the effort to have Syria hand over its chemical weapons.  To fly in the face of that risks an escalation of tensions with Russia and more importantly, it risks any action taken by NATO or the US being done with the potential to see American forces being attacked with chemical weapons.  That is not palatable to the president or the American public.
So Obama blinks, again.  Ed Morrissey calls this an unmitigated disaster for US foreign policy and credibility. that about sums it up although on the plus side, it might also spell the end of any Obama agenda as well, so it's not all bad.

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