The “escape hatch” is still open, it seems:
BREAKING Assad confirms Syria to hand over chemicals weapons: Russian TV interview— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) September 12, 2013
Before we start uncorking the champagne bottles, it’s important to recognize that this new development is fraught with at least two problems, according to New York Times columnist Tom Friedman: First, how do we even know Assad -- the man who almost certainly gassed his own people -- will act in good faith? And second, who is going to enforce this resolution, a proposal Secretary Kerry himself said “can’t be done”? The Russians? Please:
A new situation has been created in the last two days by the Russian offer — embraced by Obama, all of our major allies and China, but still only vaguely accepted by Syria — for Syria to turn over its stockpiles of poison gas to international control. Let’s have no illusion. There’s still a real possibility that the Russians and Syrians are just stalling and will fudge in the end, and even if one or both are serious, there are formidable logistical and political obstacles to securing Syria’s chemical weapons swiftly and completely. Part of me wonders: Has anybody thought this through?
As many have written, confiscating Assad’s chemical weapons is a political solution to the Syrian crisis; it will not restore the current administration’s credibility on the world stage nor carry out President Obama’s “red line” proclamation. Basically, the Assad regime -- if the Russians’ deeply flawed fig leaf proposal becomes official administration policy -- will get away with murdering innocent children with chemical weapons. That’s just a fact. In fairness to the president, though, there are no good options here. He can either (a) send in ground troops (which no one wants), (b) commence a bombing campaign (which most people don’t want), or (c) find a symbolic yet empty compromise that allows Team Obama to quickly declare victory and focus on other matters. Ding Ding Ding. Door number three looks like the most palatable option at this point, no? And while we still don’t know if this plan for peace will work out (how we even got to this point is nothing short of a miracle), it seems to be the administration's only ace up its sleeve.