What did Obama’s Shabbos Surprise accomplish? For one thing, once he threw the matter into Congress’ lap he bought himself and the American people some time, while adhering to the letter of the Constitution, and took the wind out of the sails of those who were absolutely certain he would act unilaterally, justifying, in their minds, his impeachment. Buying time also gives the UN chemical weapons inspection team enough time to present its report, strengthening the administration’s case when they bring it to Congress, the UN, and especially to the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg Sept. 5-6. The extra time, according to some analysts, can also be used to test Iran’s willingness to play a constructive role in seeking a political settlement in Syria.
Obama also let Bibi know, in a chat they had just before he gave his shocker of a speech in the Rose Garden, that the reservists called up last week can go back to their homes. Ben Caspit reports from Jerusalem for Al Monitor that the whole world is running around bickering over an airstrike in Syria—“but the delay will only embolden the ayatollahs and their readiness to continue full throttle their plan to acquire nuclear military capability. ”
But Obama’s calm demeanor did not fool the Syrians, who, after essentially calling him a chicken, noticed the American military resources on their doorstep and knew they couldn’t get into a dogfight with American technology. Besides, Iran is in charge. Without Iran and Hezbollah, Assad would have been long gone. Iran is a signatory of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and Syria is not, so Iran, as Caspit described it, is the dynamo that generates the chaos in the region, and this may be a way to open channels to discussion with the new Iranian leaders.
In an interview with the “PBS Newshour” on August 28, Obama said that he is willing to work with “anybody” to resolve the Syria conflict. “…What I’ve also concluded is that direct military engagement, involvement in the civil war in Syria, would not help the situation on the ground. We’re prepared to work with anybody—the Russians and others—to try to bring the parties together to resolve the conflict. ”
Diplomacy is nice, but the Syrians live in tough neighborhood. Right now they think they know when and where America will strike, and they’ve moved men and materiel around. But as time passes, they will grow complacent again, and they really don’t know when they will get hit, and hit hard. But they are afraid, very afraid, and the scent of a cease fire may be in the air. They also understand that revenge is best served cold.