Merely to prevent Obama from looking weak
September 12, 2013
Obama’s speech on Sept. 10, constrained by domestic opinion, came across as unwilling to confront the Russians or al Assad. The Russians are hoping this has unnerved al Assad’s opponents sufficiently to cause them to use the Russians as their interlocutors. If this fails the Russians have lost nothing. They can say they were statesmen. If it succeeds, they can actually nudge the regional balance of power.
The weakness of the Russian position is that it has no real weight. The limit on American military action is purely domestic politics. If the United States chooses to hit Syria, Russia can do nothing about it and will be made to look weak, the tables thus turned on them.
At this point, all signs indicate that the domestic considerations dominate U.S. decision-making. If the Russian initiative begins to work, however, Obama will be forced to consider the consequences and will likely act. The Arabs suspect this and therefore will encourage the Russians, hoping to force the U.S. into action.
The idea that this imbroglio will somehow disappear is certainly one that Obama is considering. But the Russians will not want that to happen. They do not want to let Obama off the hook and their view is that he will not act. Against this backdrop, they can appear to be the nemesis of the United States, its equal in power and its superior in cunning and diplomacy.
This is the game to watch. It is not ending but still very much evolving.
This article was posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm