President Barack Obama continued to give Syria and Russia an opportunity to lie through their teeth Tuesday night, withdrawing a vote for an attack on Assad’s forces to give Moscow time to convince the West that Syria will surrender all chemical weapons.
Whether or not Congress would have given its approval for an attack is now a moot question. Obama might have saved face by putting off the vote, but his latest zigzag contrasts with a single-minded policy by Russia and Syria to lie their way to make sure Assad has so many missiles that he can conquer rebel forces, with or without poison gas.
The military option still is on the table, but it is further away. “We’re going to continue to work moving forward on this but keeping pronounced — and I pronounce it now — that the credible threat of our doing something about this attack is going to remain,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said after President Obama met with Senate Democrats.
Vladimir Putin and Bassar al-Assad’s proven inability to tell the truth has been their best tactic to outsmart Obama, who has allowed himself to be cornered into using reason to defeat a lie.
After weeks of insisting that the Assad regime has no chemical weapons, Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said Tuesday that it would cease production of chemical weapons and disclose the locations of its stockpiles to the United Nations and to Russia.
That was the first admission that Assad has chemical weapons, a fact which has been obvious to France, Britain, the United States and certainly to Syrian victims of chemical war.
The moment that the United States agreed to play “gentleman” with madmen and let itself be in the position of having to provide positive proof that Assad’s forces used chemical weapons, it declared itself a loser.
Every moral person knows that Assad is lying. No one could prove it. Now Moallem admits, in effect, it was lying, but the straitjacket thinking of the American government requires it to act is if the Russian-Syrian alliance has turned over a new leaf.
Similarly, Vladimir Putin has said Russia will not supply Assad with the S-300 missile system, one of the world; most advanced anti-aircraft weapons that can shoot down a commercial airliner, and what more convenient target than one flying over Israel?
Putin now says that Russia has supplied Assad with components of the missiles but the shipments “have been suspended for now.” It may be true that the shipments have been suspended, but it may also be a lie that completed missiles have not reached Syria.
The Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai reported Tuesday that Russia has shipped S-300 systems to Syria.
Russia is invested up to its gills with weapons for Syria, a base for Moscow to challenge Washington as kingmaker in the Middle East.
Russia has sold Syria highly advanced rocket launchers, anti-aircraft missiles and anti-ship missiles, especially the sophisticated P-800 Yakhont anti-ship missiles that can cover a large part of the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Assad can get along very nicely without chemical weapons to defeat the rebels if it has more jets to bomb civilians, as if murdering with conventional bombs is more moral than using poison gas.
With that kind of track record for duplicity, Moallem’s statements that “we intend to join the Chemical Weapons Convention” and “we intend to give up chemical weapons altogether” normally would be dismissed.
By now, Obama should understand what Israel has gone through for decades, playing by Western rules against Arab regimes that mock the West as idiots for believing a lie is the truth.