If you take the long view – and by “long view” we’re talking 10 days — there have been three distinct paths the U.S. could have taken on Syria.
First, way back on August 31, President Barack Obama seemed imminently close to a strike on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. After Labor Day, came a detour toward seeking Congressional approval. That effort was overwhelmingly met by the public with a “No thanks. We’ll pass.” Then this week, thanks to a remark by Secretary of State John Kerry that may or may not have been off the cuff, Obama made a sharp turn — toward diplomacy.
For now, he’s sticking with option 3.
During a prime time speech to the American people Tuesday, Obama pressed the pause button on his hard sell for a military strike, and said he’s waiting to see what kind of viable, verifiable plan Russia comes up with for al-Assad to give up his cache of chemical weapons. But Obama says he’ll keep U.S. forces ready in case Assad’s bluffing. Call it carrot-and-stick diplomacy.