Edward Snowden, now in Moscow as special assistant to President Putin, has given us a highly classified telegram, drafted by Russia’s chief diplomat for the Middle East Georgi Kennankov to President Putin, “eyes only.” The telegram was sent from the Russian embassy in Tehran, Iran.
It is a long telegram; I can only read to you the main points.
BEGIN TEXT: The situation is unprecedentedly excellent. Let us review it.
President Obama four and a half years ago launched his major plan to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.” To achieve this, he would have to take the US out of its leadership role in international security, a role it has carried out for nearly a hundred years.
He has succeeded in doing so to a remarkable degree making him potentially the most consequential president in American history.
Of course we are delighted with this American abdication of its leadership.
At this moment the situation is exceptionally favorable to us. When chemical weapons – nerve gas – was used in Syria to devastating, horrifying effect, it violated a fundamental principle of the international state system, a system which had relied upon American resolve. It also crossed a “red line” that President Obama himself had set, probably inadvertently.
So Obama declared that the US would take military action. But the success of his own strategy for transforming America meant that the country was unprepared psychologically, morally, politically, and militarily for such a military operation.
This led Obama to explain, for several days, what he was not going to do. (We found this amusing, because the first rule of strategy is “never tell your opponent what you are not going to do”). All the while, Secretary of State Kerry was delivering powerful speeches on the need for immediate, forceful armed intervention.
Suddenly President Obama added another “not”; he was not going to decide to act. Instead, he would put the decision in the hands of Congress. Congress quickly read the opinion polls, which reflected the success of President Obama’s approach: the American people saw no reason to get involved. So the Congress, it appeared, was not going to authorize the President to take action.