Selected smart diplomacy snippets:
GENEVA — The United States and Russia have reached an agreement that calls for Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons to be removed or destroyed by the middle of 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday.
Did either side blink?
WASHINGTON — President Obama will not insist on a United Nations Security Council resolution threatening Syria with military action, senior administration officials said Friday, as American and Russian negotiators meeting in Geneva moved closer to an agreement that would seek to ultimately strip Syria of its chemical weapons.
A significant sign of movement at the United Nations came when the Obama administration effectively took force off the table in discussions over the shape of a Security Council resolution governing any deal with Syria. Although Mr. Obama reserved the right to order an American military strike without the United Nations’ backing if Syria reneges on its commitments, senior officials said he understood that Russia would never allow a Security Council resolution authorizing force.
How do Assad's opponents feel about that?
Much of the Syrian opposition is bitter about President Obama’s decision to shelve the threat of military action and to negotiate with Russia, which is a major arms supplier to the Assad government.
But Mr. Obama’s decision to concede the point early in talks underscored his desire to forge a workable diplomatic compromise and avoid a strike that would be deeply unpopular at home. It came just days after France, his strongest supporter on Syria, proposed a resolution that included a threat of military action.
And Turkey is a NATO member bordering Syria. Does this affect Prime Minister Erdogan?
On Thursday, Mr. Erdogan, a strong advocate for military intervention in the Syrian war, reacted angrily to the United States’ decision to delay a military strike there — a decision analysts said had left Mr. Erdogan more politically vulnerable at home.
This week, as Mr. Obama announced he was delaying strikes, the decision seemed to catch Mr. Erdogan by surprise. After volunteering to take part in any military coalition, and advocating a sustained intervention that he hoped would cause the collapse of the Syrian government, diplomatic maneuvering by Russia had left Mr. Assad, for the moment at least, comfortably in power. And it left a central plank of Mr. Erdogan’s foreign policy in disarray.
Cengiz Candar, a Turkish political columnist, said the American decision amounted to an “embarrassment” for Mr. Erdogan, especially given his other recent setbacks.
Surprising and disappointing our allies while accomodating our adversaries - I don't know how much more smart diplomacy we can handle. Yet Obama has barely placated the anti-war left that propelled him to power. Well, riding the tiger is a lot easier than dismounting it.