The year since a chemical attack that killed hundreds near Damascus has been a strikingly good one for President Bashar Assad.
His deadly stockpile has been destroyed, but he has stayed in power, bought time and gotten world powers to engage him. Along the way, global disapproval has shifted away from Assad and toward the Islamic extremists who are fighting him and spreading destruction across Syria and Iraq.
Until the Kerry-Lavrov deal, President Obama had set a red line on chemical weapons use and told Assad that he must leave office.
But then Assad became our partner in WMD disarmament.
Which meant that we needed Assad to stay in power to finish that deal. So Assad doesn't have to go yet.
Which gave time to develop the idea that Assad can be a general purpose partner against jihadis.
Ah, smart diplomacy. It's almost an honor to see it in action.
UPDATE: Nice. Well played:
Syria said on Monday it would cooperate in any international effort to fight Islamic State militants, after Washington signaled it was considering extending the battle against the group into Syrian territory.
Russia backed Assad's offer.
I tell you, the way things are going, in two years Syria will gain major non-NATO ally status.