Obama is faced with a political reality where anything he comes out in favor for, his opposition will oppose, because we are in a unique age where we don't really have a political opposition but actually a personal opposition. The Affordable Care Act is the most dramatic example; conservative think tank and the heart of the Republican party, The Heritage Foundation, comes up with a plan to counter the plan pushed by Hillary Clinton in the 90s, and GOP "moderate" Romney actually enacts it in Massachusetts to much fanfare about the success about conservative planning - but when it becomes Obamacare, the same people that lauded the plan before are suddenly against it. Check http://www.mediaite.com/tv/are-conservatives-really-going-after-michelle-obama-for-promoting-water/
for an even more hilarious example of this.
So an opportunity to get into another war presents itself. We have no interests in the country really, though our semi-allies in the region do. The same allies that funnel money to Al-Qaeda groups. Russia has an interest in Syria as well, which is very interested in maintaining a secular authoritarian regime that will keep their weapons out of the hands of radicals that could hop up to the caucuses and give the Chechens an idea or two. So action on behalf of the rebels, which do include Islamic radical factions, really isn't in our interests. And yet, Republicans really want it - beyond the money made from replacing the munitions we use up, there's the idea that maintaining a state of severe destabilization bleeds all sides, and more generally the idea of American Exceptionalism, that we are the boss of the world and we should smack down anyone we choose and put a base on them.
So Obama says, ok, we'll go if we see chemical weapons. We'll call that a red line. Then chemical weapons are used (if it is indeed the regime, I would bet it's a rogue general or one of Assad's brothers, because the regime has every interest in not using chemical weapons, especially after the clear warning). So we have to go, and everyone is excited because it looks like we will. Fleets start moving, gears start turning, and O'Reily, Krauthammer, and everyone in the Republican and conservative establishment is shaking with excitement, saying that Obama is actually pretty great. Chemical weapons are bad and getting them from Assad is a worthy goal for an America on the side of God and Justice.
Then Ol' Longface Sec. State Kerry makes an apparently offhanded remark in response to Margaret Brennan from CBS about whether there's a diplomatic solution to this familiar steam-roll to war. "Sure, uh, I guess he could give up all his chemical weapons." Haha, wink wink, nudge nudge, we gave Saddam the same "chance," didn't we - no worries, it won't happen. But then, how weird, almost instantly, Russia gets a plan in motion to do just that.
Republicans get caught shifting gears from "we need to go to war to get the chemical weapons" to essentially saying Obama is weak for not going to war to get the chemical weapons even though we found a diplomatic solution, a tone-deaf song that sounds to Americans like war is always the answer to the GOP. And probably most importantly (aside from the avoided civilian deaths of course), we give a huge diplomatic concession to Putin, who gets to look like a reasonable guy internationally and avoids looking weak domestically while putting a stronger hand on the Syria situation. This repairs some wrinkles in diplomacy when it comes to Russia's recent anti-gay legislation, the hot air we were obligated to give in return for their not renditioning Snowden back to us, and generally gives us a chance to make Russia a partner instead of an opponent. A welcome change.
So let's put our crypto-conspiracist hats on (any regular hat lined with tinfoil will do). Can we really believe that this whole thing was just cobbled together in a few hours based on a gaffe? The Republican narrative is that Obama is inherently terrible and so this must be the accident that it appears to be, but it seems such an easy win for the administration, I just can't believe it.