Something is happening in Syria. Sun Tzu tells us, All warfare is based on deception, so perhaps things are not exactly as they appear.
Let's consider our own motivations, based on what we do and not what we say. The United States cares about oil, the Middle East, and Israel. Russia is not an ally. China is not an ally. Iran is an enemy, and so are its proxy agents. We do not go to war to prevent foreign suffering, or to prevent non-white people from killing each other.
Let's treat it like a black box-system, examine the inputs and outputs, and ponder unusual observations. The chemical weapons are (mostly) supplied by Russia. Syria's other weapons are supplied by Russia. In some ways, Syria is a Russian customer/proxy. In other ways, Syria is an Iranian proxy.
The US announced it had a problem with "Assad's chemical weapons". Kind of interesting that we didn't say, "Russian chemical weapons in Syria". We didn't build the framework that way.
The US provided a flurry of mixed signals, confusing messages, and the appearance of an administration prepared for military strikes without Congressional approval. Obama behaved rather like the previous President. Boehner and the administration agreed. Henry Kissinger and the administration agreed. Then the President announced, "next week I'm going to talk to the American people".
If the US launched strikes, it would provide a demonstration of US weapons against Russian weapons. It would be the Paris Air Show by other means. As a vendor, Russia might not welcome that user-test. If the US strikes were effective, it would cause people to be less likely to purchase Russian weapons systems - because the Americans could make them go away at their will.
In the week provided before the President went to the people, Russia stood up and said - "hey, let's take those nasty chemical weapons out of Syria and destroy them". Putin beamed and played the Savior.
- Russia sold chemical weapons and lots of other weapons to Assad
- US said, "we don't like this, and we're going to launch strikes"
- Russia said, Syria will give over their chemical weapons. You guys are crazy!
- Russia is left in a face-saving posture. The second-term president is scuffed up.
"The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.", Sun Tzu
In the end, it's Rorschach test in which we project our impressions of the Obama administration upon whatever scenario we see. If you think Obama is brilliant, hasn't become Bush 3, and has some game then maybe we just won the Second Cuban Missile Crisis, and once again the Russian weapons are leaving. If you think Obama is inept, over his head, and befuddled then maybe we just almost started World War III and Putin saved us.
The really dangerous thing about Kruschev-Kissinger brinksmanship, of course, is that events devolve and you end up hoping that there's enough people like Vasili Arkhipov (RIP) to go around.