Right-Wing Media's Love Affair With Putin Continues Over Syria Weapons Proposal

Right-wing media have rushed to heap praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin for a proposal to allow Syria to avoid U.S. air strikes by surrendering all of its chemical weapons to the international community, despite the fact that Russia was responding to statements by Secretary of State John Kerry and that President Obama supports the solution.

Right-Wing Media Give Putin Credit For Diplomatic Solution To Syria

The Washington Times: “Putin Offers Obama Face-Saving Lifeline.” The Washington Times published an Associated Press article under the headline “Obama face-saving lifeline in push for Syria to surrender chemical weapons”:

The Russian foreign minister says Moscow will push Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control.

Sergey Lavrov said Monday that if such a move would help avert a possible U.S. strike on Syria, Russia will start work “immediately” to persuade Syria to relinquish control over its chemical arsenals. [The Washington Times, 9/9/13]

Fox's Martha MacCallum: “Vladimir Putin Is Coming To The Diplomatic Rescue Here.” On Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum suggested that Russia was solely responsible for the diplomatic proposal and expressed shock that “Vladmir Putin is coming to the diplomatic rescue”:

MACCALLUM: I find this fascinating, Dan Henninger. I mean, you know, what we're seeing, it would appear, and you tell me if I'm wrong, is that Vladimir Putin is coming to the diplomatic rescue here or appearing to try to do that at least, to a president who told us when he ran for office that all you needed to do was sit down with everybody to work things out. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 9/9/13]

Fox's Tucker Carlson: “Putin Is Riding To President Obama's Rescue”:  On Special Report, Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed “Putin is riding to President Obama's rescue”:

CARLSON: The administration's policy in Syria is ad hoc. The president implied this was all in the works, that at the G20 he and President Putin worked this out. That's ludicrous. They're making this up as they go along and that's obvious, I think. The second thing that is clear is that this strengthens Russia and humiliates the United States. Putin is riding to President Obama's rescue. He is entirely dependent upon the goodwill of Vladimir Putin, who does not our interests at heart. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier9/9/13]

Fox's Charles Krauthammer: “I Don't Believe For A Second” The Solution Was An American Idea. On Special Report, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer expressed his doubt that the U.S. was responsible for the arms deal proposal:

KRAUTHAMMER: Kerry said we would demand that this be done by the end of the week, or the pledge be done by the end of the week, and all of a sudden in the Obama interview with Chris, he's talking about a debate for a week or a day, a second day, or a month. So Obama has obviously sort of changed the terms to make them open-ended. And secondly, if it was an American idea, as Obama implies, which I don't believe for a second, but if it was, then why isn't it the American proposal? [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier9/9/13]

Even Though Russia Was Responding To Kerry

Kerry Suggested That Syrian President Could Avoid An American Attack By Turning Over “Every Single Bit Of His Chemical Weapons To The International Community.” During a September 9 press conference in London, Kerry proposed that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad could avoid a U.S. military strike by surrendering all his chemical weapons to the international community:

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could avoid a U.S. military strike by surrendering all his chemical weapons within a week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday, but immediately made clear he was not making a serious offer.


When asked by a reporter in London whether there was anything Assad's government could do or offer to stop a military strike, Kerry answered:

“Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week -- turn it over, all of it without delay and allow the full and total accounting (of it), but he isn't about to do it and it can't be done.” [Reuters, 9/9/13]

State Department Clarified Kerry's Comments As A “Rhetorical Argument.” Soon after the press conference, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki clarified that Kerry's comments constituted “a rhetorical argument”:

“Secretary Kerry was making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons he has denied he used,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.


Kerry's point “was that this brutal dictator with a history of playing fast and loose with the facts can not be trusted to turn over chemical weapons, otherwise he would have done so long ago,” Psaki said. “That's why the world faces this moment.” [CNN, 9/9/13]

Russian Foreign Minister Embraced Kerry's Proposal. Taking Kerry's lead, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on September 9 that Russia will urge Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control in an effort to prevent a U.S. strike:

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Syria could avoid an American attack by turning over “every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week.”

Russia immediately jumped on the offer, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow will urge Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control in a bid to avert military intervention. [Business Insider, 9/9/13]

And Despite Obama Backing Diplomatic Solution

Obama Said He Would “Absolutely” Delay Plans For Strikes If Syria Surrendered Chemical Weapons. In several White House interviews on Monday, President Obama backed Kerry's proposal, while emphasizing the need to not let “the pedal off the metal” and remain strong on the chemical weapons ban:

President Barack Obama said Monday that he would “absolutely” put plans for strikes on Syria on hold if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave up control of his country's chemical weapons.

“Absolutely -- if, in fact, that happens,” Obama said in an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, which was one of six interviews he gave at the White House on Monday.

Obama's comments came after a day of unexpected developments in the Syria situation. Secretary of State John Kerry first made what appeared to be an offhand remark in London early Monday, suggesting that Syria could potentially avoid a U.S. attack if it handed over “every single bit of his chemical weapons” to the international community in the next week.


“We will pursue this diplomatic track,” Obama told Fox News' Wallace. “I fervently hope that this can be resolved in a non-military way. But I think it is important for us not to let the, you know, the pedal off the metal when it comes to making sure that they understand that we mean what we say about these international bans on chemical weapons.” [Business Insider, 9/9/13]

Obama Has Been Pushing Similar Plan With Russia For Months. NPR reported that Obama said he and Putin had previously talked about the proposal during meetings in Russia and Mexico:

In an interview with PBS, President Obama said if there is a diplomatic path to stop the use of chemical weapons in Syria it would be “overwhelmingly my preference.”

Obama also added that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had talked about the plan now on the table both during the recent G-20 meeting in Russia and during another meeting last year in Mexico.

In other words, the proposal is a true diplomatic breakthrough long in the making. [NPR, 9/9/13]

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