On the day U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with his Russian counterpart in Geneva, Russian premier Vladimir Putin pens an op-ed in the New York Times, making an appeal to Americans for caution in Syria. He asserts that the Assad regime likely did not use chemical weapons, that there are bad elements in the opposition, including al Qaeda – something affirmed by NBC’s Richard Engel in his Nightly News report last night, yet Putin acknowledges that the Syrian government has chemical weapons and the world should get rid of them. Putin also questions “American exceptionalism,” trying to subtly tout the strength of Russia as a major international player.
He writes, “I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”
However, a forthcoming U.N. report will point the finger in the direction of the Assad regime for using chemical weapons against his own people, Foreign Policy reports: The report “will not directly accuse the Syrian regime of gassing its own people, according to three U.N.-based diplomats familiar with the investigation. But it will provide a strong circumstantial case -- based on an examination of spent rocket casings, ammunition, and laboratory tests of soil, blood, and urine samples -- that points strongly in the direction of Syrian government culpability.”
The Washington Post: “The CIA has begun delivering weapons to rebels in Syria, ending months of delay in lethal aid that had been promised by the Obama administration, according to U.S. officials and Syrian figures. The shipments began streaming into the country over the past two weeks, along with separate deliveries by the State Department of vehicles and other gear — a flow of material that marks a major escalation of the U.S. role in Syria’s civil war.”
USA Today: “Pursuing a diplomatic resolution that would allow President Bashar Assad to surrender Syria's chemical weapons stockpile runs the risk of extending his stay in power and undercutting support of rebels who have been fighting his regime with U.S. support, some Syria analysts say.”
Knives of September… AP: “Some of President Barack Obama’s top allies say the president misread a few crucial political forces when he asked Congress to support his bid to strike Syria. Chief among Obama’s missteps, they say, was underestimating the nation’s profound weariness with military entanglements in the Middle East, fed by residual anger over the Iraq war’s origins, and overestimating lawmakers’ willingness to make risky votes 14 months before the next congressional elections.”