U.S. & Russia agree on Syria plan

So should Vladimir Putin get the Nobel Peace Prize?  Does this get President Obama out of the mess he was in, turning a fiasco into a victory?

The United States and Russia agreed Saturday on a plan to bring Syrian chemical weapons under international control, a rare diplomatic victory in a brutal civil war that appears to head off a punitive U.S. military strike on Syria in the near future. [Read more...]

Developments on Syria

A reporter asked Secretary of State John Kerry if Syria could do anything to avoid getting attacked.  Off the cuff, Kerry said, sure, get rid of their chemical weapons.  Whereupon the Russian foreign minister seized on the idea, turning it into a proposal.  Whereupon the Syrian foreign minister indicated that the country might be open to that.  Now the rest of the world and much of Congress is rallying around that possibility.  Do you think this proposal is a way out or a delaying tactic?  A diplomatic breakthrough or a Russian ploy to keep Assad in power?

Meanwhile, President Obama will address the nation tonight at 9:00 ET, after a day packed with TV interviews, all in an effort to persuade Americans to persuade their Congressional representatives to let him attack Syria.  I can’t watch the speech, but if you do, live blog it here.  We’ll discuss it tomorrow.

UPDATE:  Syria says it will accept the Russian proposal.  President Obama is revising his speech accordingly.

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“Pontification, Prevarication and Postponement”

Foreign affairs columnist Anne Applebaum (who is not a conservative) on our current international relations debacle:

The central problem of the Obama administration’s Syria policy is not that the president has failed to use military force but that both the president and his top officials have implied that they might use force, then backed away, then once again picked up the rhetoric. To put it bluntly, President Obama has also failed to understand the ways in which an American president’s words will be interpreted around the world. [Read more...]

Diplomatic catastrophe

Wikileaks is releasing to the public a quarter of a million classified documents.  This latest batch isn’t so much about atrocities in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  It mainly consists of confidential reports by diplomats that contain unflattering and sometimes snarky comments about world leaders, including important allies.  The reports lack “diplomacy.”  As a result, we have a diplomatic catastrophe on our hands.

For a sampling of what they contain, here is a list of breathless headlines from the Drudge Report.  Go there for links to the articles:

USA RACES TO LIMIT WIKILEAKS DAMAGE…

250,000 State Dept. cables cover Iran, NKorea, Putin… MORE

Reveal: Iran ‘smuggled arms’ to Hezbollah on ambulances…

Reveal: Hillary Clinton ordered diplomats to spy on UN leaders…

Reveal: Iran obtained missiles from NKorea…

What America REALLY thinks of world leaders…

MOST EMBARRASSING, DAMAGING DISCLOSURE IN DECADES…

Clinton Calls Leaks A Global ‘Attack’…

AWKWARD: Clinton heads abroad, will meet world leaders dissed in cables…

Reveal: Saudis repeatedly urge US attack on Iran…

SENATORS: PROSECUTE THE LEAKERS!

NYT EXPLAINS: DECISION TO PUBLISH…

Now Australian police investigate Assange…

France: Leaks threaten democracy…

Rep King: Website leaks are terrorism…

Holder orders criminal investigation…

PALIN: Obama admin’s handling ‘incompetent’…

via DRUDGE REPORT 2011®.

One could make a case for leaking documents that cover up misdeeds.  But it’s hard to imagine what good it would do to leak documents that just embarrass people needlessly.  Diplomats do need to be able to give their superiors candid assessments without worrying that they will show up on the internet and in the world’s newspapers.