Obama's embarrassing Syria scramble

A troubling time for the president, when Vladmir Putin looks reasonable and measured by comparison

Published September 10, 2013 2:15PM (EDT)

Anyone nostalgic for Cold War-era ideology need look no further than media messaging attempts by the Obama administration over Syria Tuesday. Therein, a stunning display of "USA, No. 1!" propaganda abounds, as the Obama administration raced to claim credit for the Russian proposal for a diplomatic resolution of the Syrian chemical weapons issue.

While Vladmir Putin's spokesperson has confirmed that Obama and his Russian counterpart had discussed a possible resolution involving the Syrian regime handing over its chemical weapons to international hands to avoid military intervention, there's little denying that the idea slipped out of Secretary of State John Kerry's mouth accidentally at a London news conference. It was Russia that acted to make the possibility a formal proposal. Barely a breath came between the U.S. push for war and then its scramble to claim credit for a non-military solution. Indeed, during his Monday news conference, Kerry was swift to backtrack on the suggestion that such a proposal was on the U.S. agenda, insisting that Assad "isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done, obviously.”

While the Obama administration and its key mouthpieces have been banging the war drum with mounting vigor in recent weeks -- touting the immutable moral imperative of military action in the face of "humanity's red line" being crossed -- the chemical weapons handover initiative made Russia look a dove to America's hawkish leadership. Little wonder Obama was then swift to call the proposal a "possible breakthrough" and insist that it was his idea all along. The fact that the president and Putin may have discussed a possible chemical weapons resolution last week hardly undoes Obama's rhetoric-drenched push for military action in recent days.

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

MORE FROM Natasha Lennard

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Barack Obama Bashar Assad Chemical Weapons Civil War Cold War Middle East Russia Syria U.n. Vladmir Putin