This past weekend, the United States and Russia reached an agreement on the Syrian chemical weapons stash. The details of the deal are a far cry from the administration's position just a week ago on "punishing" Assad for using chemical weapons on his own people. And it certainly is nowhere close to the administration's previous insistence that Bashar Al Assad must be removed as the leader of Syria. Secretary of State John Kerry said the deal would "verify, verify, verify" that Bashar Al Assad's chemical weapons stash was destroyed, but he did not say how that was to be accomplished.
There was some mention of United Nations inspectors, sanctions and empty threats of "further action" if Assad violated the terms of the sketchy agreement. At this point the "deal" sounds much like the "deal" made with Saddam Hussein after the first gulf war which lead to a decade of obfuscation and downright deceit from the Iraqi leader. It also lead to the Russians selling United Nations contraband items to Iraq against the sanctions that were supposedly in place.
The "deal" does provide Bashar Al Assad with a week to formulate a list of what weapons he has, quantities of such weapons and locations. I am completely confident that old Bashar will be totally forthright and honest when compiling this list (he says with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek). This list is eerily similar to a list that was required of Saddam Hussein about his weapons of mass destruction. Remember the thousand pages of gibberish Saddam handed over to the UN and the international community? The data dump included everything from popular Iraqi recipes to the shoe sizes of every person in the Hussein government. Unfortunately it was a little light on information about his WMDs. I would not expect Assad's list to be so blatantly disrespectful of the process, however I am not naïve enough to believe that he will reveal everything about everything as it relates to his chemical weapons.
This "deal", hatched by the Russians and Assad to lure the United States into the trap of allowing the "international community" to orchestrate our foreign policy, makes our president and his administration look like a bunch of rubes in a high stakes poker game with professional card players. It is exemplary of the mistaken view that the Left has about our adversaries like Russia. Barack Obama, and the rest of the Left intelligentsia, see diplomacy as conflict resolution, while Vladimir Putin and the Russians see it as part of their asymmetric warfare strategy.
I learned this lesson my freshman year of high school from one of my teachers. At the time, President Carter was giving away the farm in the now infamous SALT talks with the Russians. My wise teacher told the class that the Soviets (for you younger readers, that was what Russia was known as back in the days before they "got religion") had different definitions of words and that the United States must understand that going into any negotiations with them. He also said that their ultimate goal was domination and the spread of Communism, and deception was a perfectly legitimate vehicle for achieving that objective.
Putting aside the tremendous boost this "deal" gives the Russian's prestige and influence in the Middle East and the deflation of American influence, it will have the effect of giving new life to the Assad regime and bolster his status as a legitimate player in the high stakes contest of world diplomacy. A contest in which President Obama and his buffoonish Secretary of State were just bluffed out of the biggest pot in recent history by a former KGB colonel holding a pair of deuces.