09/10/13 — The hero? Russian President Vladimir Putin rides in to 'save the day'? Hmmm.

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The hero? Russian President Vladimir Putin rides in to 'save the day'? Hmmm.

Don't look now, but there is a new candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize in town -- and his latest trick is making America's president look a whole lot less like the leader of the free world.

Russian President Vladimir Putin seized on a seemingly off-the-cuff statement Monday from Secretary of State John Kerry -- that if Syria would turn over all chemical weapons, it could avoid an attack.

"All right, let's do it," Putin said.

"Phew, an out," President Barack Obama and his advisers said.

Well, truth be told, we are not exactly sure what was said in Washington, but it sure changed the rhetoric on the eve of the president's big speech.

Here's the bottom line: The Syria response plan is flawed. This should have been done quickly, decisively and with conviction -- or not done at all. You cannot predict a short-term response -- that is not how war works. And make no mistake, this would be a war.

Waiting weeks for an attack is just idiocy. If you do not think Syria has moved its weaponry in the middle of towns and schools, you are a bit naive.

And if you really think that a country that was shooting at weapons inspectors a few weeks ago is now welcoming them in with honesty and transparency, you are not paying attention.

The Syria reaction is a mess.

We look incompetent. We look weak, and we look like we have the convictions of a mouse.

And, on top of that, Congress is going to vote this attack down -- in whatever form it takes, which right now, even that seems up in the air.

And by the way, that is after every State Department employee within a 50-mile radius has been trotted out to support the policy -- including Susan Rice -- now there is a smart decision.

Putin outplayed us. And we have lost credibility with our friends and enemies. And we have done nothing to make sure this never happens to another group of innocents.

It is time to chalk this up to a loss and to move on. And then to figure out how to do it better next time.

Published in Editorials on September 10, 2013 11:40 AM