Per this NY Times account, John Kerry's suggestion that Syria could spare tha world a lot of aggro by unilaterally turning over its chemical weapons (a proposal Kerry promptly and premptively poo-poohed as improbable) has picked up Russian support:
[Russian foreign minister] Lavrov appeared at a previously unscheduled briefing only hours after Mr. Kerry made his statement in London, seizing on it as a possible compromise.
“We don’t know whether Syria will agree with this, but if the establishment of international control over chemical weapons in the country will prevent attacks, then we will immediately begin work with Damascus,” Mr. Lavrov said at the Foreign Ministry. “And we call on the Syrian leadership to not only agree to setting the chemical weapons storage sites under international control, but also to their subsequent destruction.”
Mr. Moallem said later in a statement that his government welcomed the Russian proposal, Russia’s Interfax News Agency reported, in what appeared to be the first acknowledgment by the Syrian government that it even possesses chemical weapons. The Syrian government historically has neither confirmed nor denied possessing such weapons.
I don't think Kerry is outsmarting anyone (what's unbelievably small is his common sense), so this might just be an alternative way for Syria to run out the clock as they haggle over terms.
On the other hand, Russia might be looking for a face-saving way to bring Syria a bit closer to international norms, or at least to gracefully distance themselves from them.
And it certainly gives Obama a face-saving excuse to do nothing for a few weeks. Win-win-win!
NOBODY'S FOOL: The Times is all over the four-corner ploy:
Obama administration officials have discussed the idea of presenting Mr. Assad with an ultimatum. But officials are wary of giving the Syrian leader an opportunity to play for time, and carrying out inspections to make sure the Syrian government has not retained hidden stocks of poison gas as fighting rages appeared to be a near impossibility.
LIVE IMPROV WITH J KERRY: From CNN:
But as Russia and Syria later suggested that it could be done, the State Department later sought to clarify Kerry's comment as a "rhetorical argument."
One U.S. official called Kerry's remarks a "major goof," adding that America's top diplomat "clearly went off script."
"There is no one in the administration who is taking this Syria proposal seriously," the official said.
GIVE PEACE A CHANCE! Team Obama will study the Russian proposal, Harry Reid will delay the Senate vote, and the diplomats win. Stephen Hayes explains that Team Obama will insist that it was Obama's forceful resolve that led to this happy talkfest. Uh huh - the threat of an "unbelievably small" attack focused Syrian minds.
Groan. Will it be days, weeks or months before Obama and his press lackeys are telling the world that only Obama's calm patience and steely resolve held off the warmongering Republicans? I think "days".