Max Boot does an excellent job explaining why the new Russian proposal on removing chemical weapons from Syria is almost certainly a mirage. Not surprisingly, however, President Obama is eager to embrace it. After all, doing so will avoid Congress rejecting his request to use military strikes against Syria–and the de facto collapse of his presidency.
But this will come at quite a high cost. Russia is now establishing itself as the preeminent power in the region, having displaced the United States. American prestige and credibility lie in ruins. President Obama has succeeded in undermining the moderate rebels he promised to assist. He has strengthened the murderous anti-American regime he declared he wanted gone. A despot who used chemical weapons and committed, in the words of Secretary of State John Kerry, a “moral obscenity” will now escape any punishment (which after all was the stated purpose of Obama’s threats to strike Syria). And Iran and Hezbollah, having (along with Russia) come to the aid of Assad, will emerge from this whole thing in a much stronger position.
It is hard to overstate how much of a debacle Syria has been for America. The damage we have sustained is deep and durable. The balance of power has shifted dramatically against America. It may take decades for us to undo the damage, if even that is possible.
This period may well turn out to be a hinge moment in the Middle East–and one of the worst diplomatic chapters in modern American history. Such is the cost to a nation when a community organizer is promoted to the job of commander in chief.