On its face, the recent sequence of events concerning a possible U.S. strike against Syria defies logic.
First President Obama announces he has decided we should strike. Then he announces he will seek congressional approval first. Then Congress casts sufficient "media votes" to make clear it will not approve.
Then Secretary of State John Kerry says international control of the Syria's chemical weapons would satisfy America. Then Russia says it will support Kerry's proposal. Then Syria adds its tentative support. Finally the White House trumpets the message that without Obama's threats, Russia and Syria would never have responded as they did.
Fiddlesticks. Obama was hung once congressional sentiment became known. Why bail him out after it became clear there would be no strike?
The reason is Russian President Putin recognized Obama's vulnerability. He seized the exact moment when Obama would be most desperate not to attack and save face.
With the "media votes" in, Obama faced a domestic political and foreign relations disaster. Putin bailed him out to exact a price totally in Russia's interest. The haggling over a weapons control agreement will go on endlessly. Meanwhile Putin's client Syrian President Assad will stay in power because that's Putin's payback.
Eventually the weapons will be deeded to some international policing function, which will relieve Russia of the threat of the weapons falling into Russian enemy hands for use in Chechnya and elsewhere. That weapons threat to Russia is huge. Syria and Chechnya are right in the neighborhood.
Putin, Assad and Obama win. The Syrian people lose.