Syria is supposed to provide a full accounting of its chemical weapon stockpiles by Saturday. Secretary of State John Kerry was unequivocal on that timing.

“We agreed that Syria must submit within a week — not in 30 days, but in one week — a comprehensive listing,” Kerry said Saturday. He said the U.S. would allow “no games, no room for avoidance, or anything less than full compliance.”

But as the deadline nears and Syria appears not to be getting its list together, the US State Department is already carving out room for games and avoidance.

Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, said Wednesday that “our goal is to see forward momentum” by Saturday, not the full list. “We’ve never said it was a hard and fast deadline.”

What part of “must submit within one week” does Ms. Harf not understand? She understands every word, of course.

This is how the deal regarding Syria’s WMDs will go. Russia will play the Lucy and the football act, with the US in the role of Charlie Brown. Syria will say one thing and do another, or not do anything at all if it suits them. At each turn as the US gets played, Obama’s hires will move the goalposts and argue that, really, things are peachy and on schedule. That football we just failed to kick is sailing right through the uprights.