As readers no doubt recall, it wasn’t that long ago that President Obama was adamant that he would order a cruise missile strike on Syria by himself as there had been a violation of his “red line” on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. US Secretary of State Kerry, a former Vietnam “peacenik,” sounded so warlike in his statements that it seemed like US cruise missiles would be fired at Syria in mere hours. Then everything changed.
Obama backtracked and obtained a delay by “punting” the issue to Congress, saying they had to vote on the matter. Congress seemed very disinclined to approve the strikes, as did polls of the American people. The United Kingdom surprisingly voted not to join the USA in any attacks on Syria. Obama’s support melted away quickly. Russia seized the initiative, and it was Vladimir Putin’s plan for a gradual destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stocks that were backed and approved by the international community. The USA was shunted to little more than an observer status on the issue. All of Obama’s bellicose talk about red lines and imminent attacks were quickly discarded. What happened?
There are several possibilities. One is detailed in this link which offers a detailed account that it was the Syrian rebels who either intentionally detonated the chemical weapons or accidentally set off such weapons stored in their custody. The link also offers very interesting analysis about the involvement of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Russia in this entire episode. It is true that the Assad regime had nothing to gain by using these chemical weapons as it risked severe American and NATO attacks if such weapons were used. The Syrian rebels had everything to gain by using chemical weapons and making it look like Assad did it in order to trick the USA into bombing the Syrian regime. That risked a wider war as Russia and Iran firmly backed Assad.
Another possibility is one I proposed in earlier posts: that Russia had positioned supersonic cruise missiles on the Syrian coast that would be fired at American warships if American warships fired cruise missiles at Assad regime targets. If this happened and the US warships were sunk or damaged because they did not have defenses against supersonic cruise missiles, it would be a huge black eye for Obama and might have resulted in Congressional calls for Obama’s impeachment due to his neglect of the US military. It may also have dawned on the Obama administration that they had no right under international or US Constitutional law to make such strikes since no US vital interest had been threatened at all in Syria.
There is another possible reason for Obama’s sudden retreat and Russia suddenly taking charge of this crisis. What follows is informed speculation. Remember Edward Snowden, the whistle-blower and spy (?) who brought troves of secret NSA information to Russia where he has since received protection and asylum from Putin’s government? The initial reports about Snowden (who had top clearances to top secret NSA information even though he wasn’t an NSA employee) was that he stated he could access private NSA information about any American individuals, including the president himself. What Snowden leaked (that the NSA was conducting unauthorized mass spying on Americans and “authorized” it via its in-house “kangaroo” FISA court) created a firestorm. However, Snowden surely gave the Russians much more specific information from the NSA’s files that would be far more damaging to the Obama administration if that information was released.
As Obama and Kerry were making statements that an attack on Syria was imminent, perhaps Putin arranged for Obama to be shown the next tranche of secret NSA information that Russia would release to the world if Obama attacked Syria. If Snowden accessed Obama’s own personal NSA information, there could have been some extremely damaging information about Obama that Putin has that could potentially have resulted in the end of Obama’s presidency if it were released (unlike previous US presidents, Obama has made sure that much information about his past has remained concealed from American citizens).  At any rate, Obama did a quick reverse course and quickly ceded the initiative on Syria to Russia. If this is the true reason why Obama backed down quickly re: Syria, it means that Russia can blackmail Obama on any policy decision from now until the end of the Obama presidency. This should be a matter of dire concern for all Americans and a matter for Congress to investigate.
One last thought. It increasingly appears likely that Snowden was acting as a “mole” for Russia all along. If so, how many other “moles” do Russia, China and other nations still have within the NSA or serving as employees or agents of various “special contractors” that have foolishly been granted access to NSA secrets. I think only the most gullible of souls would believe that Edward Snowden was the only “mole.” Russia would be far too clever to put all their eggs in one basket. How many dozens of “moles” did they plant within the NSA or embed within other security firms that had access to the NSA’s top secrets. Have the NSA, CIA, FBI or DHS found any of the other Russian and Chinese moles with access to the NSA’s top secrets. If Snowden penetrated the NSA and obtained its innermost secrets so easily, it is almost certain other spies have done so as well. Clearly, the NSA did a terrible job of vetting who had access to its internal secrets. That much is obvious. What is now known is how many other vital national American secrets have been stolen and how many “moles” are still present in American security agencies and their affiliated special contracting firms.