Apparently, once again with respect to Syria, the White House was caught off guard by events they are frantically reacting to instead of shaping. Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper, a White House official publicly responded to Russian President Vladmir Putin’s New York Times op-ed with the admission that Putin “now owns” and has “fully asserted ownership” of America’s current foreign policy focal point–pushing Syria to surrender its chemical weapons:
That’s all irrelevant. He put this proposal forward and he’s now invested in it. That’s good. That’s the best possible reaction. He’s fully invested in Syria’s CW disarmament and that’s potentially better than a military strike – which would deter and degrade but wouldn’t get rid of all the chemical weapons. He now owns this. He has fully asserted ownership of it and he needs to deliver.
On its face, the lack of statesmanship in the language of “owns this” is troubling enough. And while it is apparent that what the White House is trying do here is frame a failure to rid Syria of its chemical weapons as a personal failure for Putin, once again we have a White House playing checkers as Putin plays three-dimensional chess.
Forget the fact that Putin isn’t George W. Bush, someone who will sit quietly as the White House and its media allies attempt to put the blame on anyone other than the man responsible. Let us also forget that Putin’s brilliant tactical move of saying “yes,” to an offer an off-script Secretary of State was sure would be refused, has nothing to do with the goal of disarming Syria and everything to do with ensuring his BFF Syrian president Bashar Assad stays in power.
No, what is so troubling about the White House’s amateurish response to Putin’s op-ed is that they are giving Putin exactly what he wants: “ownership” of the tune Barack Obama is currently and feverishly dancing to.
By admitting Putin “owns” and “put this proposal forward,” the White house is admitting they had nothing to do with shaping or creating the very proposal that is right now driving American foreign policy. Essentially, the White House is admitting that Putin is in charge and that America is following his lead. In other words, it is the Russian president driving American foreign policy, and America doesn’t even have control over whether or not that policy succeeds or fails!
With his off-teleprompter red line remark last year, President Obama blundered himself and this country into a humiliating mess. With his off-script “offer” this week, John Kerry blundered right into the hands of Putin and made Russia the world player it has wanted to be since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
And now the White House has blundered again into Putin’s trap because they thought a good way to respond to Putin using the pages of the New York Times to troll Americans and gloat in front of America over his victory was to admit Putin really is steering the ship of state.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC