Yeah, counting on Russia and Iran is a splendid idea:
The United States said on Thursday it hoped a new round of international talks on Syria's civil war would clarify whether Tehran and Moscow could eventually accept a new leadership in Damascus, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.
We're prepared to up our level of pretending on Iran. Why shouldn't we pretend that any solution acceptable to Russia and Iran will actually advance our interests? Or the interests of the Syrian people?
Even if Russia and Iran are willing to seem like less-than-reliable allies by throwing Assad under the bus, what makes us think that such willingness would indicate anything other than Russia and Iran figuring they can achieve their own national interests without Assad in the front office with the big desk?
If Russia keeps their bases in western Syria and if Iran can continue to support Hezbollah in Lebanon to confront Israel, I don't think the Russians or Iranians care who is the president of all or any of Syria.
But we will think the formal removal of Assad is a victory even if a pro-Iran and pro-Russia Alawite-dominated government continues?
I suspect we're that good. I think we can fake it in Vienna.
UPDATE: It will be interesting to see the Russian and Iranian reaction to the "unbelievably small" special forces effort we will begin in Syria and Iraq:
The number of special operations troops was likely to be in the range of 20 to 30, said one U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
A larger number--but still small--will go to Iraq.
Will the Russians and Iranians believe we are serious when we have reason to doubt the president is serious?
UPDATE: The New York Times has a nice series of maps on the recent fight in Syria.
UPDATE: Remember when opponents of President Bush 43 charged that he planned to follow the 2003 invasion of Iraq with an attack on Syria and other places in the Middle East?
Yeah. Well, President Obama re-entered the Iraq War in 2014 and has broadened the fight to Syria.
And now he orders a small number of boots on the ground there contrary to his reassurances to the contrary.
Obviously, rather than condemning the president for the decision, I'm more worried about whether this is a serious effort or just checking a box to insulate the president from criticism that he isn't doing enough.
And just as obviously, I'd like to point out how our Left gives this president a pass.
Well, if not "cool," at least not war crimes that justify a trial by the International Criminal Court and impeachment.
UPDATE: A coalition of one:
The Obama administration began a new diplomatic process Friday to solve the Syria crisis -- a gambit that depends on Russia to eventually push Syrian President Bashar al Assad to step down. But not even America’s allies think Russia will reverse its support for the dictator.
The administration pretended for a long time that we could recruit rebels interested in fighting ISIL but not Assad; and now we pretend that Russia intervened at this late date in Syria because it is willing to abandon Assad.
The pretending on the former continues, as a deputy secretary of state noted:
Blinken pointed to the U.S. efforts to build up rebel groups to fight the Islamic State as evidence that the U.S. is still pressuring Assad.
In his world, focusing on fighting the most potent enemy of Assad is putting pressure on Assad. So it must be totally confusing to him that the Russian intervention to support Assad pretty much ignores ISIL. Perhaps Blinken explains it as a complete lack of nuance in Moscow.
I'd sleep better at night if I knew our diplomats and foreign policy people go along with this nonsense because they are ordered to rather than accept the possibility that they actually believe this stuff.