I thought President Obama’s speech started off rather well. ”When dictators commit atrocities,” he said, “they depend upon the world to look the other way.” Indeed.
But then he made clear that he would indeed look the other way, while he waits to see whether Russian president Vladimir Putin’s plan is serious. Where does that leave things? Obama can now pretend that Congress was going to give him the vote of confidence he sought. He will pretend that with such authority he’d instruct the military to launch an attack that would be simultaneously “unbelievably small” yet not a “pinprick.” He will pretend that it was the credible threat of force that persuaded Assad to agree to a “diplomatic solution.”
In response, Assad will pretend that he is willing to surrender his chemical weapons — the weapons he never acknowledged possessing, and denies using. And Putin will pretend he is a statesman who has solved a weighty international crisis. Or, he may just laugh a lot.