Yet, despite all its huffing and puffing and calling Putin names, the Times ultimately concludes that Obama should test out the lifeline that Putin has tossed to Obama's Syrian policy which -- with all its thrashing and arm waving -- is rapidly disappearing into the quicksand. The editorial concluded:
"Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in London on Friday, made it clear that America would be looking for 'common ground' in Syria, which could mean keeping Mr. Assad in power temporarily during a transition. The Russians should accept that Mr. Assad must go within a specific time frame, say six months. The objective is a transition government that includes elements of the Assad regime and the opposition. Iran should be part of any deal.
"America should be aware that Mr. Putin's motivations are decidedly mixed and that he may not care nearly as much about joining the fight against the Islamic State as propping up his old ally. But with that in mind there is no reason not to test him."
Kerry's apparent willingness to work with the Russians -- a position that I'm told Obama shares -- is at least a sign that some sanity exists inside the State Department, which initially mounted an absurd and futile attempt to organize an aerial blockade to prevent Russia from flying in any assistance to Syria.
If successful, that scheme, emanating from Nuland's European division, could have collapsed the Syrian regime and opened the gates of Damascus to the Islamic State and/or Al Qaeda. So obsessed are the neocons to achieve their long-held goal of "regime change" in Syria that they would run the risk of turning Syria over to the Islamic State head-choppers and Al Qaeda's terrorism plotters.
However, after the requisite snorting and pawing of hooves, it appears that the cooler heads in the Obama administration may have finally asserted themselves -- and perhaps at The New York Times as well.