I think the whole situation just confirms that Obama really f***ed up on Syria. The United States- the most powerful nation in the world- said that the use of chemical weapons in Syria is a "red line" that cannot be crossed. And then Assad crosses that line, and crosses it again, and finally crosses it once more by gassing 1400 unarmed people with a series of massive, coordinated attacks on civilians... and Obama sits back and defers to congress, until finally the Russians step in and help negotiate a deal where Assad agrees to hand over the chemical weapons. This is roughly analogous to a schoolyard bully beating a kid up with a baseball bat, after the teacher warns him not to, and the only consequence is that the bully has to surrender the baseball bat. If your teacher handled an incident like that, would you have even the least amount of respect for them?
That's not the way you handle that situation. You don't dither. You don't consult congress. You just arm the goddamn Tomahawk missiles and you take out some of Assad's runways, artillery, and communications centers, and make him pay. The issue isn't supporting the Syrian opposition or not, the issue is that the U.S. said that there would be severe consequences if Syria used chemical weapons. And then there weren't. Maybe Obama shouldn't have gotten involved or not
What Putin saw was that Obama was more afraid of Congress, and more afraid of Assad's ally —Russia— than he was committed to standing up for the principles we claim to believe in. Putin saw weakness. I do think the Iraq invasion was a huge mistake, and I voted for Obama twice, but I think he's really screwed up on Syria, on the coup in Egypt, and now on the Ukraine.