Assad: Syria agrees to hand over chemical weapons but not because of U.S. threat

Assad: Syria agrees to hand over chemical weapons but not because of U.S. threat

Obama poutingCould the day get any worse for Barack Obama? Could his entire second term, for that matter?

First the president gets schooled in (of all places) the “newspaper of record” by (of all people) Vladimir Putin. This takedown followed a day of tough love from Obama’s most ardent admirers in the fifth estate. Typical was a scathing piece by Joe Klein in TIME that not only accused Obama of building his case against Syria “on a false premise” but added:

[H]e has damaged his presidency and weakened the nation’s standing in the world. It has been one of the more stunning and inexplicable displays of presidential incompetence that I’ve ever witnessed.

As if the president weren’t already smarting mightily from such spankings, along came this news flash this morning from the newspaper ironically named The Telegraph:

Bashar al-Assad has said he will place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control in line with a proposal from Russia.

The Syrian president, speaking to Russia’s Rossiya 24 state news channel, denied however that US pressure had anything to do with the decision to surrender the arsenal.

‘Syria is transferring its chemical weapons to international control because of Russia,’ he said in an interview the Rossia [sic] 24 television channel. ‘The threats of the United States had no influence on the decision to put the weapons under [international] control.’ [Emphasis added]

The interview came on the day the president dispatched his Secretary of State to Geneva for talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to persuade Syria to relinquish its chemical weapons stockpile.

You can see where this leaves Obama, who was taken to the woodshed Wednesday by Klein’s TIME colleague, Michael Scherer:

For generations, the American people have had a standing deal with their Presidents: Go ahead and mess with the prime-time lineup once in a while, interrupt Who’s the BossSeinfeldNCIS: Los Angeles, or whatever. But you better make it count. You better have something new to say. And when it comes to speeches of national security, you better leave the impression that you have this thing under control.

On Tuesday night, President Obama decided to test this unspoken pact. For 16 minutes from the East Room, he took over the nation’s televisions to repeat the same complex and contradictory case for bombing Syria that he has been making for two weeks, even though he acknowledged at the end, there is no longer an imminent need for the country to make a decision. He delayed the start of America’s Got Talent to announce he would be delaying a congressional vote.

America may indeed “got talent” but not in the area of national leadership. Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal remarks that British ambassador Charles Crawford wrote in The Telegraph that Monday was “the worst day for U.S. and wider Western diplomacy since records began,” and asked, “How has this happened?” Henninger answers candidly:

A consensus assessment of the past week’s events could easily form around Oliver Hardy’s famous lament to the compulsive bumbler Stan Laurel: ’Here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten us into!’

In the interplay between Barack Obama and John Kerry, it’s not obvious which one is Laurel and which one is Hardy. But diplomatic slapstick is not funny. No one wants to live in a Laurel and Hardy presidency. In a Laurel and Hardy presidency, red lines vanish, shots across the bow are word balloons, and a display of U.S. power with the whole world watching is going to be ‘unbelievably small.’

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.

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