When a London reporter asked Secretary of State John Kerry whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could do anything to avoid a military strike, Kerry gave a rather casual answer.
“Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week – turn it over, all of it without delay and allow the full and total accounting, but he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done.”
Though Kerry said it couldn’t be done, President Obama is now saying, and hoping, it can.
When Sergei Lavrov, foreign minister of Russia, suggested placement of chemical weapons under international control would stop US strikes on Syria, Syria’s foreign minister Walid al-Moualem listened. Moualem welcomed the proposal and announced the Assad government fully supports Russia’s plan. Assad wants to “stave off the American aggression” and spare the blood of Syrians. The next move will be for lawmakers to draft a Congressional resolution so the United Nations will have time to take control of the weapons.
But does this surprising turn of events mean Obama failed at a campaign he was pushing the whole country to accept? Let’s analyze this: Obama interviewed with five major news stations on September 9, the same day President Assad was interviewed on CBS by Charlie Rose. Assad said the world should expect every kind of retaliation if the US decided to strike. In contrast, Obama was trying to convince the US and the international community to support the plan of striking on Syria. Two diverging stances, but one came out on top. At that time, Obama’s approval ratings on foreign affairs were down to an all-time low of 40 percent, which is a four-point drop from June.
If we didn't know better, this new agreement would sound like some kind of plan devised by Damascus and Moscow to not only prevent the US strikes, but to humiliate Obama in the process. Many speculate when Obama did not immediately intervene, the US lost some of its credibility on this issue.
It seems with Obama’s foreign policy ratings at the lowest they’ve ever been, he has not only lost credibility with the international community, but he now looks incredibly weak, according to some. From the Associated Press:
“The consequences for Obama's turnabout could be sweeping, both at home and abroad. If Congress votes against military action, it would mark a humiliating defeat for a second-term president already fighting to stay relevant and wield influence in Washington. It could also weaken his standing internationally at a time when there are already growing questions about the scope of American influence, particularly in the Arab world.”
Obama was never going to be seen as the hero of the conflict, because, let’s face it: nobody wanted the US to intervene. Not really Congress and certainly not the American public. There would be too much bloodshed and too much money spent. Instead, Russia is seen as the good guy who finally raised his white flag and saved the day. And since Assad agreed, the world gave a sigh of relief.