Is there a point where the Geneva talks become too much of a farce to continue?
Thursday afternoon on CNN, Fareed Zakaria was ooh-ing and ahh-ing about the important, historic achievement of persuading the Syrians to sign the international Chemical Weapons Convention.
Just how reliable is the signature of a dictator who used those chemical weapons against his own people, and who’s still denying the attack? We’re supposed to believe that a guy who’s okay with gassing kids would never lie?
Because early indications are that the Syrians aren’t behaving like they intend to turn over all their stockpiles: The Wall Street Journal:
A secretive Syrian military unit at the center of the Assad regime’s chemical weapons program has been moving stocks of poison gases and munitions to as many as 50 sites to make them harder for the U.S. to track, according to American and Middle Eastern officials.
The movements of chemical weapons by Syria’s elite Unit 450 could complicate any U.S. bombing campaign in Syria over its alleged chemical attacks, officials said. It also raises questions about implementation of a Russian proposal that calls for the regime to surrender control of its stockpile, they said.
U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies still believe they know where most of the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons are located, but with less confidence than six months ago, U.S. officials said.
Also note Assad is now making his own counter-demands:
Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has spoken about placing its chemical weapons under international control and said that the US must “stop threatening us and supplying terrorists with weapons”.
Speaking on Russian TV’s Rossiya 24, he said that only Russia could make the agreement happen as “Syria has neither contacts with, nor trust in, America”.
Now, you can like arming the Syrian rebels, you can hate arming the Syrian rebels. But the guy who just committed a crime against humanity, and who has our fleet off his coast, doesn’t get to make demands.
So how does Obama want to resolve this? I figured the new aim was to get the public to forget that the “red line” statement ever happened, that he ever wanted to fight a war over Syria’s chemical weapons, that his best efforts to persuade Congress and the public fell flat, that he ever got himself entangled into this mess, and that the country of Syria exists.
Allahpundit offers another possible Obama goal, a quick, check-the-box strike:
If Assad tells them to get lost, then what? O’s surely not going back to Congress; proof that Syria’s disarmament is a sham might win him some extra votes, but he’s in such a deep hole with both Democrats and Republicans that he might still not get to 218. I think the plan, such as it is, is to bomb Assad straightaway if he doesn’t comply, without congressional approval, on the theory that the public will be a little more tolerant of a new war if it looks like Assad and Putin are jerking the UN around. That would also explain the oddly belligerent tone to Obama’s speech on Tuesday night even though, ostensibly, it was all about how we *shouldn’t* attack right now. Maybe he’s concluded that the only way to get back some credibility is to hit Assad anyway, and the UN stuff is just a prelude designed to build a bit of extra moral authority for doing so. The fact that he tried a last resort to diplomacy and it went nowhere because Assad’s a liar will be presented as a game-changing fact by his spin team which requires an immediate response by the commander-in-chief, without waiting for approval from Congress.