Mr. Assad Goes to Moscow

Smiles, everyone, smiles. (AP photo)

Smiles, everyone, smiles.
(AP photo)

See if you can spot the buried lede before I get to it below the quote:

According to a transcript posted on the Kremlin’s website, Mr. Putin met Mr. Assad late Tuesday and told him that Russia was ready to contribute not only to the fight against terrorism but also to a political settlement of the conflict that has raged for more than four years. Mr. Assad, in turn, briefed the Russian leader about the situation on the ground and on next steps.

The surprise visit — evidently Mr. Assad’s first trip outside Syria since the civil war began there in 2011 — highlighted how the political and military horizon of the long war of attrition has shifted drastically because of Russia’s intervention.

In the brief remarks released by the Kremlin, Mr. Putin told Mr. Assad that the military and political issues were linked.

The military and the political are always linked, which is probably why our dysfunctional political system is unable to produce victories, even with the world’s most powerful military at its command.

But the real takeaway from this piece — and I’m betting this is why the Kremlin went public with Assad’s visit — is that Assad felt safe enough to leave his country for the first time since 2011.

The message is loud and clear: Stick with Moscow, and they’ll protect you and your regime.

Washington used to send that message, but alas no longer.