Is there an opportunity for Obama to turn things around with the Russian Option for Syria currently on the table? Our colleague Adam Garfinkle thinks that it’s there—if the administration is clever enough to exploit it.
If the Russians are not serious and/or the Syrians are not willing to proceed, we retain the military option. (Dropping the military option in trade for a Russian promise to lean on the Syrians, as the Russians have proposed, is a very, very bad idea.) That way the White House can say to Congress, look, we tried diplomacy yet again, we went the extra mile, and now we’ve come to the end of that road. That’s a fairly compelling pitch, and it just might deliver the “yes” vote the President now needs. And if it looks to be less than enough for that purpose, the vote can be put off until, maybe, it becomes enough thanks to some events not yet in view—Micawberism redux, in other words. Either way, the Russian Option can be played in such a manner as to enable the President to get off the embarrassment carousel.
Smart thinking as usual from Adam. He goes on to argue that the administration needs to work hard this autumn not just to salvage its broken Syria policy, but to restore American credibility after a series of disastrous reversals and pivots in its foreign policy. The best way to do so: “[P]lease shut up unless it is absolutely necessary to say something in public. The staccato headlines of late, nearly every one of them sending the gaffe meter through the roof, need to stop. As some used to like to say, the whole world is watching.”Truth. Read the whole thing.