The Syrian civil war leadership award goes to Vladimir Putin. In a single stroke he has contradicted Bashar Assad's mumbling prevarications about nerve gas weapons and potentially neutered the U.S. Navy just off the Syrian coast.
Apparently he, more than most, appreciates the effects a strike might have on degrading Assad's military capability. At the same time, Putin's actions allow President Obama to use a rhetorical "Pink Pearl" on his red line and postpones a key vote in the U.S. Congress.
To sum up, Putin has prevented or delayed a potentially debilitating military action against a key client, promised (probably with a wink and a nod) the removal of chemical weapons stockpiles; provided a face-saving out for Obama; stifled the actions of Congress, and done so while continuing to sell Assad conventional weapons to slaughter thousands.
Not bad for a day's work.
Salt Lake City