The most tragic irony of the new geopolitical landscape is that the U.S. and Russia appear headed towards the same position on Assad where they were three years and more than 150,000 lost lives ago—and before the real rise of ISIL—when that communique was signed in Geneva and opened the door to peace negotiations that never took off. “We could have done this a long time ago,” says Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma who is sometimes consulted by the administration.
Three years ago, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was a special UN envoy to Syria who managed to get both Lavrov and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to sign the communique, which called for a political “transition” in Syria. Afterward, Annan flew to Moscow and gained what he believed to be Putin’s consent to begin to quietly push Assad out. But suddenly both the U.S. and Britain issued public calls for Assad’s ouster; Annan felt blindsided. Immediately afterward, against his advice, then-UN Ambassador (now national security advisor) Susan Rice offered up a “Chapter 7” resolution opening the door to force against Assad, an effort that Annan felt was premature. Annan resigned from his post a month later, privately blaming the Obama administration for succumbing to fears of political attacks from Mitt Romney and other Republicans during the 2012 presidential season. “He quit in frustration,” explains one former close Annan aide. “I think it was clear that the White House was very worried about seeming to do a deal with the Russians and being soft on Putin during the campaign.”
Landis had advised—long before such views became conventional wisdom—that Assad had greater staying power than U.S. officials were saying back in 2012. But, he says, “the price was too high a long time ago, because Syria was not important. The French, the British, the Americans—everybody was a coward. They hung the Syrian people out to dry because it was too expensive domestically to make a deal with Assad.”
Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/st
thanks, politico. i've stopped reading articles whenever they start going on a tangent about how unpredictable russia's foreign police tends to be.
the kremlin is easier to understand than the west. the kremlin doesn't change its mind as often.