Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Syria WMD deal? The ultimate political Ponzi scheme

The prospective WMD deal with Assad is the ultimate political hustle. On paper, everybody wins!

President Obama gets to pretend that he hasn't backed down. The President will claim that his decision to go to Congress precipitated these 'fortunate' developments. He'll argue that by moving away from the use of force, the US is serving a just peace (nothing could be further from the truth).

Putin gets to ingratiate himself with an already supplicant and now personally grateful American President (Putin has released Obama from his self-imprisonment in the authorization abyss). At the same time, Putin consolidates Assad's position. In short, he's lost nothing whilst gaining a huge political and strategic bounty. It's genius.

Assad gets to escape the military consequences that should have followed his gassing  of innocent civilians. The dictator's only sacrifice? Agreeing to a vague, unenforceable inspections regime... at a future point. Again, it's a stunning pivot.

Iran's victory is obvious. Quite simply, they've called America's cards and found us bluffing. Paying heed to Iranian security strategy, over the long term, this deal will (if it goes forward) propagate a security nightmare.

If President Obama agrees to this absurdity, he won't simply be kicking the deterrence can down the road... he'll be kicking it straight off a cliff. Right into the hands of the world's most dangerous actors. It could hardly be worse. At least if Congress had turned him down, the President could have claimed a pretense of democratic authority for his inaction. However, if he signs up to this deal, the Commander in Chief will have allowed America's enemies to score an explicit victory over the United States. At a basic level, think about the message that this deal will send to Iran, North Korea etc... 'Use WMDs and win a peace deal.' From a US security viewpoint, we're embracing strategic insanity.

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