When they look back on the twenty-first century, historians may look at the second week of September 2013 as the beginning of the end of the United States as a super power, at the very least it will be seen as the week Barack Obama was out maneuvered by Vladimir Putin and the Russian President became the leader of the Western World.
The week began with Obama, already looking weak throughout the Syrian crisis, trying to sell his Syria War to Congress and the American people via his Chief-of-Staff Denis McDonough appear on the Sunday news shows. His argument that a U.S. attack on Syria would send a message to Iranian leaders that they should not feel free to develop nuclear weapons and that “to communicate with them we have to be very clear, very forthright. This is an opportunity to be both with the Iranians….”
The Iranians did not need any more messages from President Obama, their mailbox is full of messages that he’s a weak president without the resolve to protect the American people. Five years of appeasement is a strong message. Allowing terrorists to get away with killing four Americans in Benghazi a year ago sent a message to Iran. On again, off again talks while Iran continues to develop its nuclear program all the while they are laughing at this weak President. Stopping an Israeli attack on the Iranian Nukes because it was an American election year also delivered a message of impotence to the Iranians.
Even liberal pundits saw the Iran argument as a move of desperation, the people were rejecting his war cries and his weak support in Congress (even in the Democratic party controlled Senate) was getting weaker.
Monday was an absolute comedy of errors. While trying to get international approval for attacking Syria John Kerry held a press conference and made an offhanded remark about avoiding military action if Syria gives up its chemical weapons to some sort of international force. There were a few problems with that accidental statement. Firstly the President had already said a negotiated settlement wasn’t possible. Even though he stated it was not the objective of any Syrian war, Obama has also stated that Assad had to go. Any deal to get rid of Syrian WMD would by necessity recognize Assad as the leader of Syria.
Kerry also promised that any effort against Assad would be an “unbelievably small, limited kind of effort” which not only brought out the question “why bother” from war hawks but it drew ridicule around the world.
Almost immediately after Kerry accidentally proposed a deal the State Department tried to walk back the offer saying it was hypothetical. However the cat was already out of the bag. Russian President Putin saw the opportunity to save its Syrian allies and out maneuver the Americans again. The Russians took Kerry’s accidental offer to Syria who let their interest in the plan be known immediately.
Later that same day, the former Secretary of State who, by all indications wants to be the next President was in Washington DC to pick up a liberty award. The award was to be given on 9/11, which along with the horrors of 2001 was the anniversary of last year’s Benghazi terrorist attack.
The United States has never punished the people who killed our Ambassador and three others in Benghazi (even though they had been identified) but we were going after Assad and not revenging our own people…how absurd.
Ms. Clinton had lunch with the President and spoke to the press. Surprisingly, Clinton came out in favor of the Russian deal even though Kerry and the White House were still trashing the offer they didn’t want to make, to avoid the war nobody wanted.
Finally the President sat down with the news anchors of six networks (he omitted Univision as he no longer need the Latino vote). During those interviews the President announce that his government would pursue the diplomatic effort his administration had been spending most of the day trashing. Not only that but surprise, surprise he’d discussed the idea with the Russian leader at the G20 Summit the previous week.
At this point it would have been logical for the President to cancel his nationwide address scheduled for the next evening but logic is not a strong point of this administration. So President Obama delivered a very strange speech. It tried to rouse the people-convince them of the urgent need to do what they didn’t want done strike Syria. Then in the second half of the speech he turned around and told congress to slow down and delay the vote, which he would have lost big time anyway.
Hugh Hewitt commented that the speech reminded him of Neville Chamberlain, Barry Rubin was also reminded of the man who appeased Hitler.
The next morning after the speech, Israeli premier Bibi Netanyahu made a speech reiterated his belief that Israel could not rely on the leadership of the United States for protection.
“Today, the rule that has guided me in my most of my actions as Prime Minister and which I adhere to very carefully, is perhaps more valid than ever: If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If we are not for ourselves, who will be for us?
We are for us. And the practical translation of this rule is that Israel will always be able to defend itself by itself against any threat.’
And as John Kerry flew out to negotiate the final Syrian deal with the Russians, Vladimir Putin wrote an op-ed in the NY Times, the bible of progressivism, scolding Obama’s red line and threats of war against Syria. This was the same NY Times that allowed Obama to write op-eds during the 2008 campaign but wouldn’t let his opponent John McCain answer in the same forum. Now they were allowing a foreign leader criticize that same Barack Obama in their pages.
That op-ed was Putin’s message to Obama that he was taking over the leader of the Western World. Putin becomes the peacemaker by negotiating with the United States and Assad. Russia will now be a required member of any negotiation, something that has not been a rule since the break up of USSR thirty years ago. Putin might just have won himself a Nobel Peace Prize, which would make this the first time in history that a Peace Prize winner has stopped a previous Peace Prize winner from starting a war.
Beyond the return of Russia to prominence, Putin got everything else he wanted. With the agreement (finalized on Yom Kippur) the United States is granting legitimacy to the existing Syrian Government who he said had to get out. Putin not only gets to keep his Assad-led government which is an Assad-led government running Syria allowing Russian Air Force bases on their Territory. And in the end Assad may still be controlling his chemical weapons.
Jumping on the opportunity, Putin announced he was going to Iran to convince them to drop their nukes, and satellite photos seemed to indicate North Korea was restarting its nuclear program,and terrorists attacked a US Consulate in Afghanistan. Obama’s weakness was shining through.
By the end of the week one thing was clear, President Obama got his wish. The United States now leads from behind….behind Putin and the Russians.