What The Hell Is Going On?
If an intimate conversation is the explanation, it likely had to do with personal convictions, and thus with the president's worldview. What is America's proper role in the world? What does Obama want his legacy to be? That sort of thing.
Not that such a conversation could be conducted in isolation from the rest of the world, because the president's counterparts will have been conducting similar conversations on secure phones, and those themes will surely have been raised. Messrs Cameron, Hollande and Netanyahu must have weighed in, along with Erdogan, Saudi King Abdullah, and others.
What others? What about the Iranians? We know that Obama sees Iran as the key to "solving" the Syrian mess, and we know that Obama has authorized secret contacts, even before he was elected, and Swiss diplomats are forever brokering meetings and carrying messages back and forth. What if the Iranians offered him a deal? Or perhaps the Omanis, who have been key middlemen in the deals leading to the release of American hostages?
What sort of deal? Many are possible. What if the Iranians, the real rulers of Syria today, offered to betray Assad, replace him with a military junta under their control, and organize a peace conference if the Americans lifted unilateral sanctions?
Obama would certainly be tempted to delay bombing Syria if he were led to believe that a peaceful rabbit could be lifted from a diplomatic top hat by those new moderates in Tehran, or those proven wheelers and dealers in romantic Muscat, wouldn't he?
I don't have an answer to How? or Why? It's disconcerting that no one else is even asking. It bespeaks a lack of curiosity about a major event, suggesting intellectual laziness by the pundits, "investigative journalists," and the political class.
Nothing new there, you will say. And you will be entirely correct. As usual.
UPDATE: Thanks to Instapundit for linking. Glenn is the greatest.
UPDATE #2: Kuwaiti newspaper says the president thought he needed a bit more time to make a deal with his buddy Vladimir Putin.
UPDATE 9/9/13: "Syria: We 'welcome' Russia’s proposal to turn over our chemical weapons to international control."