Change of plans on Syria

As of Monday morning, it was hard to envision anything but an overwhelming loss for President Barack Obama on his request for a use-of-force resolution for Syria. The American public, and consequently, members of Congress were lined up to solidly oppose the measure.

The result might not have been a great loss of U.S. credibility on the world stage, but it certainly would have been an embarrassing loss for the president.

Then, to nearly everyone’s surprise, along came Russian President Vladimir Putin to bail Obama out with an agreement under which Syria is to turn over all of its chemical weapons to the United Nations. The White House announced Tuesday afternoon that Obama would support the plan and a revised resolution would be prepared for Congress.

This action appears to have reduced the prospect of armed conflict involving the United States and Syria, and that’s welcome news. But plenty of questions remain, including how the United Nations or the United States will ensure that Russia and Syria follow through with the plan. Moreover, it does nothing to end the civil war in that country. Still, it is a step away from U.S. military intervention and all of its unpredictable consequences. That’s welcome news on the anniversary of 9/11.


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