The definitive story behind Obama's Syria venture will be written by diplomatic historians in years to come. It seems to us chipsters, however, that the unsung hero of the denouement is neither Putin nor Lavrov but rather Glenda Jackson,
erstwhile Elizabeth R. for Masterpiece Theatre, now MP for Hampstead and Kilburn. For it was Ms. Jackson who, from her backbench seat, directed incisive questions at Prime Minister Cameron during the House of Commons debate on Syria on 29th August last making it rather evident that Ms. Jackson was agitating the pot against intervention while her party's leader, Ed ("Egg") Miliband was playing "all chaps together" with his opposite number who ended up calling him a "fucking cunt" when Miliband turned out not to be quite as much the chap as he had led the Government to believe.
In truth, Miliband had exacted a rather nominal amendment to the motion (providing for a second vote) by way of face-saving appeasement to opposition within his own party against military intervention in Syria. If he then voted against his own amended motion it could only be because he would rather Cameron suffer defeat in the House than that he should suffer defeat as leader within his own party.
But if defeat as leader was in the air, it could only have been on account of MPs outside the Shadow Cabinet and it seems to us, from her spirited questioning, that the off stage agitator has to have been the erstwhile Elizabeth R.
If this analysis seems convoluted it is not as convoluted by half as that of those apologists who are now arguing that the Administration's pulling back from blowing Syria to smithereens was part of a ultra devious, cunning and clever strategy by the President to do exactly the opposite of what he gave every appearance of wanting to do in very earnest.
Everything the Obama Administration said and did in the week preceding the House of Commons vote indicated that it had resolved on war and counted on an Anglo-French phalanx to lend an aura of "internationality" to the aggression.
To those of us who have seen Washington in war-woop mode, it was more than evident that the military-industrial jocks like John McCain and the AIPACOIDS like Barbara Boxer were raising the roof to flatten Syria out of existence. The biggest woop was given by the Obama himself on August 31st when he declaimed:
This attack is an assault on human dignity. It also presents a serious danger to our national security. ... This menace must be confronted. .... After careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets.
A president simply cannot say that national security is at stake and then do nothing. Obama's tone and language, not to mention his military orders, were the coda to the finale. Had the House of Commons joined in the wooping the booming finale was a done deed.
Instead Her Majesty's Government politely but irrevocably excused itself from the party. Obama was left running in place on a mound holding a rather limp flag. Not quite the stuff of Capitol Rotunda canvasses.
The House of Commons vote put a stumble into the rumble and forced a change of tack. Not being able to count on the Brits to do the "democracy bit" for him, Obama had to bifurcate his war wooping with a sudden concern for constitutionalism and, given the scepticism from isolationists in the House, to modify the call for blood with assurances of pinpricks (later disavowed) and shots across the bow.
What the nation heard on August 31st was a scrambled up Plan B or, more accurately, a Plan A-1, rev. (b); but the only really important thing here is that the scrambling interjected a pause in the events. Pause for doubts; pause for second thoughts, and time for the Russians to finally move their boats into position.
As they say, the kaleidoscope of history can change overnight. From pushing aside all opposition, Obama now found himself crying for a horse to get him out of the mess he had got himself into. He got one from Russia, but for the unravelling of his plans, which made the getting necessary, we have Glenda Jackson to thank.
And it was no small matter. Right-thinking people know the difference between one state protecting its client by supporting the rule of international law and another state promoting the interests of its client by degrading the rule of law.