William Katz:  Urgent Agenda






END GAME – AT 9:21 A.M. ET:  I get the feeling that this Russian statement marks the beginning of the end for the Assad regime in Syria.  The key question is, who comes next?  We certainly haven't done terribly well with regime change in Egypt, although Obama thinks it's just ducky, and Syria could be worse.  From WaPo:

MOSCOW — Syria’s most powerful ally, Russia, said for the first time Thursday that President Bashar Assad is losing control of his country and the rebels might win the civil war, dramatically shifting the diplomatic landscape at a time of enormous momentum for the opposition.

While Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov gave no immediate signal that Russia would change its stance and agree to impose international sanctions on Assad’s regime, his remarks will likely be seen as a betrayal in Damascus and could persuade many Syrians to shift their loyalties and abandon support for the government.

Russia’s assessment could also further strengthen the hand of the rebels, who have made some significant gains in their offensive, capturing two major military bases and mounting a serious challenge to Assad’s seat of power, Damascus.

“We must look at the facts: There is a trend for the government to progressively lose control over an increasing part of the territory,” Bogdanov, the Foreign Ministry’s pointman on Syria, said during hearings at a Kremlin advisory body, the Public Chamber. “An opposition victory can’t be excluded.”

Bogdanov’s statement marks a clear attempt by the Kremlin to begin positioning itself for Assad’s eventual defeat. He said that Russia is prepared to evacuate thousands of its citizens from Syria, although he didn’t say when that might happen.

COMMENT:  If Assad is nearing his end, we must wonder if he will go the ultimate route and start using chemical weapons, possibly wedded to his Scud missiles.  He could launch them at opposition forces, or at Israel, or even Turkey.  Or, he could simply transfer them to Hezbollah, for use at some future time.

We really have no policy in Syria.  I'm getting to think we have no policy anywhere, except a policy of retreat and indifference.  We await the naming of a new secretary of state, secretary of defense, and director of the CIA.  Those appointments will tell the foreign-policy story of Obama's second term.  We've written here before that Obama can head in one of two directions during his last term:  He can become a statesman, or he can go crazy.  My own belief is that he'll go crazy, knowing it's his last chance to transform America into the leftist nation he dreams of.  He doesn't have to face American voters again.  The only voters he may have to face in the future are those voting for secretary-general of the UN, and most of them love the left-wing Obama.

December 13, 2012