On Monday, President Barack Obama’s two secretaries of state inadvertently collaborated with Russia’s foreign minister to shape a twist in the Syria debate that a day later is looking more and more like a possible way out of the current crisis.
It took an idea from being an off-the-cuff throwaway line through being an informal proposal to the point today where it will be proposed for consideration by the United Nations. Perhaps more importantly for the President, it may help save him from a political showdown in Congress where it seems increasingly likely he cannot win while adding a glimmer of hope to a story that for two weeks has been an unrelenting mess for the White House and of deep concern to the American people.
The first move came from the current secretary of state, John Kerry. In a statement that was initially seen as a slip of the tongue (probably because it was), Kerry raised the possibility that if Syria were to give up its chemical weapons, an attack might be avoided. Although the administration almost immediately backed away from the statement and the British foreign secretary characterized it as impossible, the idea quickly began to gain traction.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem announced that his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov had proposed that Syria’s chemical weapons be put under some form of international control as a way of forestalling a U.S.-led attack. Moallem went further, welcoming the initiative.