When Putin Bailed Out Obama

Three years ago, when a reluctant President Barack Obama was about to launch
an attack on Syria, supposedly in retaliation for President Bashar al-Assad
crossing a “red line” against using chemical weapons, Obama smelled a rat –
or rather he sensed a mousetrap.

Advised by some of his intelligence advisers that the evidence blaming the
Syrian government for the lethal sarin attack was weak, Obama disappointed many
of Washington’s neocons and liberal war hawks, including those in his own administration,
by deferring action. He tossed the issue to Congress, thus guaranteeing a delay.

Precisely at that key juncture, Russian President Vladimir Putin took the pressure
off Obama by persuading the Syrian government to destroy its chemical weapons,
which Assad did – while still denying any role in the attack at Ghouta, just
outside Damascus, on Aug. 21, 2013.

Washington’s hardliners were left aching for their lost opportunity to attack
Syria by citing the Ghouta attack as a casus belli. But the evidence
suggested, instead, a well-orchestrated Syrian rebel false-flag operation aimed
at fabricating a pretext for direct U.S. intervention in the war on Syria.

With Putin’s assistance in getting Assad to surrender the chemical weapons,
Obama was able to extricate himself from the corner that he had rather clumsily
painted himself into with his earlier bravado talk about a “red line.”

But Washington’s irate neocons and many of their liberal-interventionist
chums felt cheated out of their almost-war. After all, Syria had been on the
neocon “regime change” list as long as Iraq and was supposed to follow the 2003
Iraq invasion if that neocon-driven adventure had not turned out so disastrously.

Still, the neocons would make Putin pay for his interference six months later
by promoting an anti-Russian putsch in Ukraine, followed by U.S. and European
Union sanctions to punish Russia for its “aggression.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s
Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis.

According to Jeffrey Goldberg who conducted a series of interviews with Obama
for a lengthy article in The Atlantic, the President boasted about his decision
on Aug. 30, 2013, to resist pressure for military action from many of his advisers
and instead step outside what he called “the Washington playbook.”

Goldberg described the day as Obama’s “liberation day.” For Secretary of State
John Kerry, however, Aug. 30 ended in disappointment after earlier that day
he had shaken the rafters at the State Department bellowing for a U.S. attack
on Syria.

Goldberg explained that having already caved in under hardline pressure to
double down on sending more troops to Afghanistan for a feckless “counterinsurgency”
operation in 2009, Obama was not in the mood for “seeking new dragons to slay”
merely to preserve his…

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