In case you missed it, the president spoke out to the American people yesterday about Syria. No, I’m not referring to our president, Barack Obama, to his “superior” on the world stage, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin.
Putin must have tuned into Obama’s meandering and self-contradictory primetime word hash on Tuesday and felt the need to rectify the errors, some real, some perceived.
One of those errors was Obama’s claim that “we know the Assad regime was responsible” for the chemical weapons attacks that killed over 1,400 Syrians, “including hundreds of children.” In point of fact, “we” know nothing of the kind, according to an Associated Press fact check:
The administration has cited satellite imagery and communications intercepts, backed by social media and intelligence reports from sources in Syria, as the basis for blaming the Assad government [for the sarin gas attacks]. But the only evidence the administration has made public is a collection of videos it has verified of the victims. The videos do not demonstrate who launched the attacks.
Administration officials have not shared the satellite imagery they say shows rockets and artillery fire leaving government-held areas and landing in 12 rebel-held neighborhoods outside Damascus where chemical attacks were reported. Nor have they shared transcripts of the Syrian officials allegedly warning units to ready gas masks or discussing how to handle U.N. investigators after it happened.
Putin expresses skepticism as well, writing:
No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.
Who knew Putin cared so much about Israel? As for the rest of his statement, it’s hard to know what he really believes since his own self-interests are at stake in Syria and especially in preserving the status quo.
Putin kicked legs out from under Obama’s “good-guy/bad-guy” argument when he observed:
Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy in Syria.
Then he really hit the U.S. president where he lived, by stating that, irrespective of a Syria strike, “millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan ‘you’re either with us or against us.’”
Is it true? Perhaps the better question is “Does it matter?”
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- Syria: Obama’s head lawyer insists laws don’t matter
- Obama’s Cuban missile crisis
- Obama administration admits to no ‘irrefutable’ evidence against Assad
- Obama official: Something about Assad, a fork, and Cheerios
- John Kerry promises strike on Syria would be ‘unbelievably small’
- WH justifies strike on Syria by insisting it passes the ‘common-sense test’
- Israel’s wild card: Nuclear missile equipped submarine fleet
- What Obama Doctrine? Libya vs. Syria and political expediency
- Obama’s lose-lose approach to Syria has made him (more of) a laughing stock
- Syrian soldiers enter rebel tunnels, find chemical agents