Conversations, debates, op-eds and editorials will continue for the next few days. Doctoral dissertations on the evolution of the deal and the de-evolution of world powers and the role of the international community will be written. But the deal with Syria is moving -- it will not be derailed.
Putin won the battle. The Russian leader told Obama, simply and clearly, that Russia was supporting Syria. Putin said that he was not convinced by the evidence presented to him by Obama.
Russia is not interested in the truth. Russia is not interested in any red lines. Russia needs to back its ally. Russia needs to show Syria and all the other Russia minions that when there is a conflict with the United States their Russia patron will defend and sponsor them -- no matter what.
And it is no accident that the Russian defense tactic includes making the United States look foolish to the international community.
The main point for Russia is not the gassing nor is it the death of innocents. Russia is only about power and about alliances. Challenging the United States meets Russia's national interests. Publicly chastising the president of the United States on his own turf, on the pages of the revered The New York Times, enhances the Putin persona both at home and abroad.
The proposal offered by Russia to solve the Syrian weapons of mass destruction issue is an all around win. Everyone, from Putin and Obama to Israel and Iran, come out winners. There is only one loser -- one big-time loser.
Assad emerges a big winner. The president of Syria dodged a set of tomahawk missiles. For now there is no real challenge to him or to his policies and he can continue fighting the struggling rebels who seek to topple him without any threat to his more powerful infrastructure.
Obama, a humbled Obama, is the next big winner. John Kerry was the first to float the possibility of this solution in a throwaway line on Sunday during a joint press conference. It does not matter that Putin then publicly came up with the idea and totally out maneuvered Obama because Obama and the U.S. are initiators of the compromise. Putin and Obama both emerge as major forces capable of resolving international issues and crises.
Israel is very pleased. Pulling back the threat of a U.S. strike against Syria relieves the pressure of a counter strike against Israel by Syria, Hezbollah or Iran. Israel was prepared and ready for an aggressive response but even then there were still significant risks. Now those risks have been eliminated. The Israelis are now crossing their fingers and hoping that the plan is put in place quickly -- before Assad has a chance to hide some of his weapons of mass destruction or to hand off the weapons to Hezbollah.
Iran is happy in that its proxy, Assad, is still totally entrenched in his position and back on the way towards squashing his rebels. Iran understands that Russia is a formidable foil to the United States and now they have a realistic assessment of U.S./ Russian interaction in the Middle East. And, best of all, this time around Iran was not threatened at all.
Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were all potential targets of retaliation. With the problem solved, they, too, are no longer in the crosshairs.
Assad, Obama, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Turkey aside, the biggest winner of all is Putin, the Russian head of state. The Russians have turned themselves into the kingpins that put world agreements together and that defend their minions. Russia was on the wane but now, after Putin's stubborn display, the world knows that when push comes to shove, he can hammer out a solution that works best for everyone.
The rebels are the big losers. Rebel fighters lost any and all backing they had from the West. Assad's position has been internationally affirmed. The loss to the rebels is tremendous. And as for the citizens of Syria, their unenviable position is unchanged. Sad, struggling, subject to cross fire from both ends -- for them, fundamentally nothing has changed. And any fleeting hope of redemption, brought to them courtesy of the international community, has now vanished.