In commenting on what many are calling a gaffe by Secretary of State John Kerry that may have played into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said “Russia is playing chess with a set of rank amateurs.”
In a passing remark, Kerry said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could avoid a U.S.-led strike if he handed over his chemical weapons. Putin quickly proposed just such an arrangement that Syria was only too eager to accept.
Bret Baier, host of “Special Report” on Fox News, set Kauthammer up when he said Kerry “was speaking rhetorically about a situation we thought had very low probability of happening and suddenly it may be U.S. policy.”
“Because I think the Russians were playing chess here with a set of rank amateurs and understood that that gaffe gave them the opening they wanted,” Krauthammer said. “There are two issues here: chemicals and the retaining in power of Assad and of the Iran/Hezbollah/Assad/Russian axis dominating the region.”
“The Russians clearly, immediately saw that this enabled them to achieve their two objectives. Keep Assad in power. After all, if we’re going to have negotiations, we have to essentially recognize Assad. It’s not that Assad has to go, he’s the guy that’s going to have to provide the protection for any inspectors, locate the sites, he’s going to have to be in there. He’s going to be a negotiating element in this. He will remain in power and the Russians are going to have their air base, the naval base, everything that they have.”
“[President] Obama has seized on this because it’s the only way he saves face,” he added. “That’s a high price to pay, but I assure you he will seize that. It will be his policy as of now and as of his speech tomorrow [Tuesday] night.”