BY SAM FIELDS
That’s the question Napoleon would ask about military officers who were being considered for promotion to General.
Right now no one is luckier than Barack Obama.
He was about to have his political head handed to him in Congress on bombing Syria. Then a fluke question to Secretary of State John Kerry about alternatives to bombing opened a course of events that saved Barack’s butt.
Kerry sarcastically responded we would not bomb if Assad gave up all his chemical weapons. Nevertheless, out of nowhere, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Syria’s #1 ally, jumped into the fray and offered to make it happen.
Within hours Syria accepted the deal in principle.
Exactly why Putin did this is open to speculation. Was he worried that Obama, notwithstanding Congress and public opinion, would attack anyway? Did he fear that American intervention would lead to further destabilizing the Middle East and that such destabilization would spread to the already shaky Muslim population in the Russian Caucasus?
Did the former KGB operative see that this was an opportunity to put Russian diplomacy back on the world stage for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union?
Then, of course, is the idea that he thought it was the right thing to do. Probably it was combination of all of the above.
If Putin pulls this off, he will probably win the Nobel Peace Prize. It is circumstances that will hearken back to 1905 when Teddy Roosevelt won the award for bringing the Russo-Japanese War to an end.
TR was proclaimed as a peacemaker in Biblical terms. The truth is that Japan’s unexpected continued routing of Russia threatened U.S. interests in China.
I strongly suspect that the threat of American direct military involvement in Syria similarly unnerved Putin.
Of this I am certain: Unless Assad does not actually control his Generals, there is no chance that these weapons will be used while negotiations are ongoing. To do otherwise will make Putin look like a fool.
If Putin does succeed, Obama’s spin with be that this all happened because of his threat of military actions. You can’t argue with that without insisting, absent Obama, the Syrians would have done this anyway. There was exactly zero chance of that.
At home the big losers in the GOP will be the Rand Paul Libertarian faction. The big winners will be the John McCain wing of the party who will have “won the Syrian war” without America firing a shot.
But let’s assume that that the dismantling negotiations breakdown. In that case Putin will be the loser and Obama will still be the winner. After all, it will now look as if Putin lost control of an Assad who loves his illegal chemical weapons more than peace or his chief ally.
Under that circumstance, the American public, with the Congress following in tow; will be forced to rally behind Obama for having gone more than halfway with Assad. Even Putin would be hard-pressed to continue supporting Assad in the UN Security Council.
Of course there is the possibility Assad will lie and retain some of the weapons. Once again, if that came to light, the loser would be Putin who is vouching for Assad. It’s like the Mafia where those who bring in the new members are swearing under oath for them. And we all know what happens when that goes wrong.
Deserved, undeserved or mostly dumb luck, Obama has the opportunity to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
He should try not to do the reverse.