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A case of national whiplash

Published: Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Did you see the hopeful breaking news about Syria?

"Russia takes control of Syrian chemical weapons."

That was the headline I saw on the Daily Kos website.

The story quoted Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, announcing that Syria's chemical weapons, which had been consolidated in one or two locations to allay fears that they might fall into rebel hands, are now being closely guarded by the Russian military advisers that have trained and supplied Syria's military for decades.

That encouraging turn of events must be a direct result of President Obama's Syria speech on Tuesday night, right?

Not exactly.

Unfortunately, that Daily Kos headline was written on Dec. 22, 2012, when the official number of Syrians killed by the Assad regime with bullets and bombs was "only" 46,176.

I remembered having seen that Daily Kos item as I banged my head against the wall again and again during Mr. Obama's schizophrenic presidential address.

I know he's supposed to be a great orator.

But didn't he simultaneously make a moral case for a U.S. military strike to punish Syria for using chemical weapons, and a diplomatic case for delaying the attack in hopes of finding a solution from Russia that would place Syria's chemical arsenal under international control?

Maybe Jon Stewart will decrypt Obama's speech for us later this week.

Meanwhile, I'm beginning to think it's time to file a class-action suit on behalf of the American people against Obama for causing a case of national whiplash.

One day John Kerry says X. The next day the president says Y. The two simply are not communicating – and the whole country needs a good chiropractor.

It seems the only adult in the Syrian room is Vladimir Putin, the only leader who has stood up, taken charge and offered a plan.

But based on what the Russian foreign minister said in that Daily Kos report, Putin's call for Syria's chemical weapons to be placed under international control is kind of strange.

The Russians essentially are promising to do what they are already doing.

They've been overseeing Syria's chemical weapons all along. Where do we think Syria got them? Who do we think supplies Syria with its tanks and jets and poison gas? The former Soviet Union.

So now there's going to be peace breaking out in the Middle East and Putin is a Nobel Peace Prize favorite because Russia is promising to watch the chemical weapons they are already watching?

I don't get that pretzel logic, but I understand why the president was so thrilled to get a lifeline from Putin. It saved him from having to make a decision on Syria and from being humiliated by a "no" vote in Congress.

Unfortunately, in the global hardball league Putin plays in, a lifeline from Moscow is going to come with a lot of strings and secret caveats.

The main one, no doubt, will be that the U.S. promises to never use military force to blow Russia's pal to smithereens.

Syria is a human and political tragedy. It's also a stark reminder of how far our country's power and prestige have fallen under President Obama.

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were the leaders of the Free World. Now it's an alumnus of the KGB.

Foreign policy, Mr. President, should be about leadership, not friendship.

Mr. Obama, you think you can talk your way in and out of everything. You talked your way into being president. Now you've talked yourself out of being a leader. The United States — along with the rest of the world — will suffer for it.

• Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of "The New Reagan Revolution" (St. Martin's Press). He is the founder of the email service reagan.com and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his websites at www.reagan.com and www.michaelereagan.com. Send comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com. Follow @reaganworld on Twitter.

Copyright ©2013 Michael Reagan

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