There are folks on site putting forth the idea President Obama has somehow been either brilliant or 'lucky' (but suggesting that he himself created his own luck.)  And a lot of people have signed on to support that idea.

I've got to say, I think it's just wishful thinking on the part of those who simply want the President to be a 'winner' here.

But take a look at what's actually happened, and what the results have been.

Quite a while back, Syrian rebels started a civil war in Syria.

While supporting other Arab Spring uprisings, even to the point of sending in attacks in Libya, the US turned a blind eye to the fighting in Syria.

The US President was asked why we weren't going into Syria, as we had in Libya.

He made a statement that kept us out of the conflict, but threw in a line about a 'red line' of chemical weapons.  (My conjecture is that he felt that saying so would keep Assad from using such weapons.)

By conventional means, Assad killed over sixty thousand of his own people, most of whom were not rebels, but merely collateral damage.  

The US continued to ignore the killing of civilians in Syria, as well as the displacement of far greater numbers of refugees.

At this point, chemical weapons were used, killing over 1000 people.  The Assad regime seems, by available evidence, to be responsible, although some suggest that the orders may not have actually come from Assad.

Many people proclaimed that the 'red line' had been crossed, and that the President must now act in accordance with his earlier words.

(Now I'm going to stop simply listing facts, and there will be some words that imply my own beliefs as to the meaning of certain actions, such as 'walk back'.)

The President both attempted to walk back his earlier words (by saying things like 'It was the world's red line, not mine'.) and at the same time push for some 'limited' attack that would allow him to say that he had acted in line with his earlier words.

The American people, in poll after poll, and in calls to and meetings with their Congresspeople, expressed an overwhelming opposition to intervention in Syria.  Overwhelming opposition to the President's stated plans to 'deal with' Syria.

The Brits vote not to be part of any military strikes on Syria.

Assad proclaimed that if the US attacked, we should expect 'anything' in response.

The Russians opposed intervention against Assad.

SoS Kerry, while still pushing military intervention, made a hypothetical remark about Assad giving up his weapons to the international community.

The Russians immediately jump in, and take that hypothetical, and apparently get Assad to agree.

So after all that, who benefits?

The Us President is an intelligent man, and a good politician.  He has taken all sorts of political damage over the last few months as a result of his continued pushing for a military response to the use of chemical weapons.  His approval numbers on his handling of Syria are dismal.  Even if he 'gets lucky' and we avoid such military action by this latest proposal, he has only succeeded in undoing the political problem he himself created with his earlier words.  He has not ended the ongoing deaths in Syria, he has not burnished his credibility on foreign policy.

The only way I can see that an intelligent politician such as the President can benefit from the corner his own earlier words painted him into would be if I dove even into '12 dimensional chess' and posited that there was some greater purpose served, that the President was willing to take the beating on Syria simply to prevent attention being paid to something else that would be even more damaging.  A 'wag the dog' scenario.

There is no real benefit to the President otherwise, as he has wound up politically more damaged from dealing with Syria than had he never made his 'red line' comments, no matter what happens at this point.  At best, he has managed to limit the damage to his own agenda slightly.

So who benefits?

Who made lemonade out of lemons here?


Whether Russia met with Kerry beforehand and brought up the idea of Assad handing over his weapons or not, when Kerry decided to actually mention such a course, Russia jumped in, and Assad immediately signs on.

Russia (and Putin) suddenly look like the 'good guys', creating a way to avoid escalating conflict outside of Syria, burnishing their own street cred by making what seemed like a highly unlikely hypothetical real at breakneck speed.  

Even Assad comes off looking more reasonable, willing to respond to diplomacy.

The US looks like it was racing to war, having not even explored all diplomatic options to avoid such.

So I'm sorry, but while the President is undoubtedly highly intelligent, the current state of affairs is not lucky for him, nor does it seem the result of his own 'brilliance'.  If he was either, he would have gained political ground over the last few months, not lost it.

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