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Russian Diplomacy Transforms Debate on Syria

The Russian initiative on Syria's chemical weapons slows the Obama administration’s flagging effort to get congressional support for a military strike.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a briefing in Moscow, September 9, 2013. Russia said on Monday it would urge Syria to put its chemical weapons arsenal under international control if this would avert military strikes. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS HEADSHOT CONFLICT) - RTX13E7X

Almost certainly by accident, US President Barack Obama's ill-planned threat of military force against the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is paying unexpected dividends in surprising places. The Russian initiative to strip Syria of its chemical weapons arsenal and the positive Syrian and international reaction counts as very good news, perhaps the best of any since the Syrian revolt commenced more than two and a half years ago.

No one can be more surprised than the American president and his chatty secretary of state that the Russian initiative has halted the uncertain “momentum” favoring an unpopular decision to go to war. Secretary of State John Kerry can claim ownership — however unintended — of the idea that to everyone's astonishment, including no doubt his own, has sucked the energy out of Obama’s bumpy road to war. 

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