President Obama’s deferring the use of force against Damascus refocuses media attention – for the moment, at least – on the wider ramifications of the Syria crisis. Despite the weekend timing, the reaction was swift and sharp.
The instinctive response naturally dwelled on the Iranian nuclear crisis. A Los Angeles Times analysis, cautions that the US might find it more difficult
in convincing America’s allies in Israel and its adversaries in Iran that Obama will live up to his vow to take swift military action, if necessary, to deny Tehran a nuclear weapon.
This motif is echoed by the AP‘s Julie Pace, who writes that:
The stunning reversal also raises questions about the president’s decisiveness and could embolden leaders in Syria, Iran, North Korea and elsewhere, leaving them with the impression of a U.S. president unwilling to back up his words with actions.
One of the more thoughtful op-eds on the subject, appearing in the NYT, calls for both an attack against Syria and rapprochement with Iran. This line is basically followed by NYT columnist Roger Cohen, who insists that recognition of Tehran’s role should not be confused with broader strategic considerations:
Rouhani’s Iran, handled right, can help hasten a Syrian endgame. So, too, can the firm military assertion of U.S. credibility.
There are other media voices, of course. For example, Al-Monitor accentuates the Obama decision as a possible opening to a US-Iran rapprochement – with its senior correspondent, Laura Rozen, calling for a Kerry-Zarif summit on Syria.
The scorecard thus far appears to be dichotomy: while the media mainstream are generally wary of emboldening Syria, there appears to be less of a consensus about the risk of making Tehran a power broker in a crisis it’s actively fueling.