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Barack Obama, Putin's Patsy

Walter Russell Mead

Is this the end of the Kerry-Lavrov Syria deal? The New York Times:

A humanitarian aid convoy was attacked in Syria on Monday after the Syrian military declared that a seven-day partial cease-fire was over and immediately began intensive bombardments in rebel-held areas of Aleppo, the divided city that has come to symbolize the ravages of the war.

The convoy attack, military declaration and bombings were the strongest signs yet of the gradual unraveling of a broader agreement between Russia and the United States aimed at restarting peace talks to end the conflict in Syria, which has killed an estimated 500,000 people and displaced millions.

Another few dozen attacks like this and President Obama might begin to wonder whether or not his Syria policy is working. Again, what he misses is that one of Putin’s most important strategic goals is to make Barack Obama look like a fecklessly incompetent, groveling wimp. This is worth billions of dollars to Putin, and strengthens Russian power all over the world.

Don’t just take our word for it—here’s the FT reporting:

Despite the US-Russian tensions and clashes, many regional diplomats said they had not lost hope.

“I’m still optimistic,” said one diplomat close to Moscow. “Yes the Russians want to give the Americans a hard time … but they very much want this deal to go forward and get what they’ve wanted since the beginning: military co-operation with Washington, which would signify they are equal powers in the region.”

Turning Obama’s hunger for negotiated deals into a ritual theater of serial humiliation is exactly what Putin wants, and in Obama he has found the greatest patsy a Russian leader could ever hope to find.

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