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Syrian refugees, fleeing the violence in their country, wait to cross the border into the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq on Aug. 25, 2013.
Syrian refugees, fleeing the violence in their country, wait to cross the border into the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq on Aug. 25, 2013.
(AZAD LASHKARI/REUTERS)

Paul Heinbecker

Chemical-weapons deal a win for diplomacy, a loss for the Syrian people

Almost everyone but ordinary Syrians wins from the emerging deal on Syrian chemical weapons. The cynical and self-dealing Russians regain diplomatic center stage, with president Vladimir Putin’s satisfaction all too visible. The Obama administration snatches diplomatic success from the jaws of political defeat at the hands of Congress, and the embattled president is saved from launching an attack he clearly has little stomach for. The war-weary American people are free to isolate themselves further from an unworthy world that American foreign policy did much to shape. Recession-rattled European consciences (and perhaps a few Canadian consciences as well) are spared the discomfort of once again leaving the heavy lifting to the Americans. The innumerate Prime Minister David Cameron can get to work on reasserting the UK’s “America’s best ally” standing that they ceded to the more decisive French. The Arab League states are saved from reconciling their many hypocrisies and contradictions. The world, especially Syrian neighbours Israel and Turkey, has one fewer state with weapons of mass destruction to worry about. The United Nations is called on once again to provide the locus of great power negotiation and to help implement any decision on safeguarding and disposing of Syria’s chemical weapons.