And think about that Putin op-ed. The entire defense of the sort of Syrian case, if you will, has been about international law, has been about the fact that the U.S. shouldn’t be doing things that are outside of international law. Well, this means that Syria, in order to play its part, has to abide by this treaty. That’s a very tall set of obligations. And we’ll have to see whether they do it, but it is an encouraging sign.For Assad, clearly, it is some kind of an exit strategy that might allow him to stay in power. I wouldn’t say it’s the best case for him, of course, because he built up this enormous chemical weapons arsenal. And it’s a huge arsenal, largely because [the regime] was aware of threatening people, scaring people, of keeping people in line. In part, it was always meant to be a deterrent against Israel.
The feeling was Israel has nuclear weapons. Israel has a much stronger military force. The Syrians always wanted to have something that they thought the Israelis would be scared of.So, he’s giving up all of that. But it seems to be a way of somehow getting the international community to view him as a negotiating partner because, after all, he would have to guarantee the safety of inspectors. He would have to be the guarantor of these agreements, and as such he becomes more clearly recognized as the sovereign authority in Syria.There may have been some zigs and zags, some sloppy diplomacy, some sloppy statements over the past couple of weeks, but you’re ready to give the president some credit now for where the situation stands right now?
I think he salvaged the situation. Look, the whole year has been much too much ad hoc improvisation. There’s been a lot of muddling. But what he has said, what he has done in the last few days, I think, has been smart – where he has taken the Russian proposal seriously and he has clarified what exactly it is he wants to do in Syria. It’s never been entirely clear. And he now, in that speech, made clear we want to deal with chemical weapons. We want to deter their further use. We’re not going for regime change. We’re not trying to solve this problem.