A war criminal receives a reprieve -- and the world gives its blessing to the American-Russian agreement to rid Syria of its WMD stockpiles.
Bashar Assad still has not passed the first stage -- submitting an inventory of his chemical weapons stockpile, which he has until next week to do -- but everyone (almost) is already praising the genius of the deal that was signed in Geneva. Only in 2014, if at all, will Assad relinquish his chemical weapons, but those who have welcomed the deal are already at the next station: Tehran.
The American president's new foreign policy is supposed to dismantle Syria, and then Iran, of unconventional weapons. "The Iranians recognize they shouldn't draw a lesson that we haven't struck (Assad) to think we won't strike Iran," President Barack Obama told ABC News on Sunday. It is a little difficult to believe that the Iranians are actually convinced that a credible military option is on the table today. Syria, after all, is a much easier and convenient target than Iran. Indeed, Syria was attacked four times this year and it did not have the ability to respond in any real way.
It is reasonable to assume that whoever will not attack Syria, will not attack Iran. And that is the primary message we can take away from this latest saga in Syria.
In a normal world, Assad should have been in handcuffs on the way to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Isn't it fun when you have a Russian babysitter? Assad has just won a prize for using unconventional weapons. It needs to be pointed out that his entire policy of escalation since the onset of the rebellion against him has only served him. Who would have believed that the use of chemical weapons on August 21 will actually make him immune?
Assad, the regime in Tehran and his Russian patron have understood that war has fallen out of style. The see how public opinion no longer tolerates military casualties. They can also read the polls.
The Assad regime and the Ayatollah regime are programmed to control their people by employing systems of fear. This is the only way they survive. For them, to be a ruler means to be a ruler for life. In Iran, the nuclear program should serve as the regime's insurance policy (similar to North Korea), while in Syria, because the regime's nuclear program was thwarted in 2007 (not through peaceful means), chemical weapons are its judgment day weapon. Therefore it is a little hard to foresee Assad giving up his insurance policy, particularly during a brutal civil war. In the Arab world, former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is perceived as hugely naïve for relinquishing his nuclear program in 2003.
The United Nations report is expected to be published soon and we are supposed to be nauseated by its content. We will discover, officially, that Assad is the person responsible for gassing his own people, and we will see how the Russians care more about preserving its alliances and interests than the actual truth (Moscow continues to claim that the Syrian opposition is behind the chemical weapons attack).
The temptation to join the list of supporters for the Kerry-Lavrov deal is considerable. What normal person likes war? But Obama, today, likes to listen to the Russians, and therefore should take heed of what renowned revolutionary Leon Tolstoy once said: "You don't always have an interest in war, but sometimes war has an interest in you."