I no doubt will live to eat my words, but as of right now, it looks like there’s a workable deal in place to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons.
That’s Secretary of State Kerry and the Russians in a marathon bargaining session, and if the deal holds together, which is very far from a sure thing given the obstacles to destroying chemical weapons in the middle of a civil war, Kerry and the United States and the world will have accomplished a lot.
But here’s what I bet: I bet the deal won’t feel especially good. It already doesn’t to the rebels, who sound distinctly betrayed:
…Qassim Saadeddine, a Supreme Military Council commander in northern Syria, told Reuters: “Let the Kerry-Lavrov plan go to hell. We reject it and we will not protect the inspectors or let them enter Syria.”
It also won’t sound good to the neo-conservatives who saw Syria as the next battle in their endless, mad war, or to President Obama and some of the rest of us, who – whether we supported or opposed U.S. strikes – thought there must eventually be punishment for an act of ruthless, heedless, selfish inhumanity. This deal could very well put off the day of reckoning forever, and Bashar al-Assad could hold power for a long time to come, slowly, meticulously taking his revenge on the opposition using non-chemical, but equally brutal means.
We could end up with an implacable enemy in power for another 20 or 30 years, time in which to brood about the wrong that’s been done to him, time in which to fund, equip, back groups that want to harm the United States.
In short, the very large good of this deal could drag a lot of bad with it. I also don’t want to dismiss the other good of the agreement, that it’s being done without the U.S. having to fire a shot, that it involves the international community; it’s a deal which very much says the adults are in charge. But every adult knows that victories are never complete, good usually is lucky to beat evil back and be wounded in the process and that whatever deal you think you’re getting looks different – sometimes better, sometimes worse, but always different – when you’re down the road.
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