Any diplomatic initiative on Syria coming from Russia, whose UN votes have perpetuated Assad's killing machine for over two years, should be viewed with extreme suspicion. Nevertheless, the latest Russian proposal merits serious consideration.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's proposal, which exploited an offhand remark by US Secretary of State John Kerry, calls for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal in exchange for a cancellation of the US military action against Syria being debated by Congress. Russian national interests underlie this proposal: helping Russia's last Mideast client state to survive, reinforcing the image of Russia as a Mideast power broker, and diminishing the perception that Russia supports chemical weapons use. But these interests intersect with US interests insofar as a diplomatic solution decreases the odds of an Islamist takeover of Syria (should US strikes actually alter the balance of power between the Syrian regime and the opposition) while possibly removing the need for potentially risky and costly US military action -- without further undermining US credibility.

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