On one hand, you have Russian President Vladimir Putin suggesting Syria put its chemical weapons in neutral territory for safe-keeping to avoid a U.S. military strike. On the other you have a president who is not guaranteed winning a vote
in Congress to back up his decision for a strategic strike. Putin has put the president in quite a box: Putin (not exactly a peacenik) is proposing a solution to avoid a volatile situation. He is doing that on behalf of his ally, Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president. (Time out: Could this get Putin the Nobel Peace Prize? Back to our regularly scheduled program.)
I am no fan of Putin. I don’t trust him. I also don’t trust Assad. Combine the two, the trust level decreases even more. Still, when an offer is on the table to neutralize the chemical weapons at issue, you cannot avoid it. If it’s on the level, it resolves a bad situation and may just save Obama’s ability to get anything done in his final years in office.
If I were advising the President, my counsel would be to accept Mr. Putin’s offer (Obama really has no choice) but not abandon the lobbying of Congress to back him on the potential bombing. Everyone will tell you that Putin and Assad may
just be doing this to delay a bombing by the U.S. I don’t think you can cede that ground to them.
The problem with that counsel is I don't know if the members of Congress would behave properly. If the Congress could give the president a vote supporting a bombing, it would be a great card to be holding so that if Putin/Assad renege, there is no doubt the president has the authority to act without delay. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Congress can be trusted to give him a positive vote. I remember the days when politics stopped at the borders of the country and everyone supported the president in such a situation -- not blindly, but with a prejudice to back him, not cut his knees off.
I just don’t think we should allow the president to be hanging out there with no recourse if Putin/Assad go back on their
It’s trite by now to say, but “doveryai, no proveryai” as Ronald Reagan used to say. Trust but verify.