OMG these people really are bad. I mean, what a three-ring circus. Are they just so full of themselves that they think they can say whatever they want and don’t have to discipline their speech to hew to an actual policy?
Obama, you remember, drew a red line off the top of his head committing us to military action against Syria. And now Secretary of State John Kerry has offered Syria a splendid opportunity to delay, confuse the issue, and confound the United States.
Asked at a news conference today in Britain if there was anything Syrian President Assad could do to avoid an attack, Kerry mused, “Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week — turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow the full and total accounting.”
Kerry’s own spokeswoman described this as a rhetorical exercise rather than a proposal, according to the New York Times.
But the Russians, who practice diplomacy like an art form and love to confuse issues, could barely contain their delight. They decided, with rational thought that somehow eludes U.S. leaders, that what the Secretary of State says is in fact U.S. policy. And so Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who was meeting in Moscow with Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, offered Russia’s kind assistance in corralling Syria’s chemical weapons. Moallem said Syria “welcomes” Russia’s proposal.
So now, completely by accident, a very serious alternative to bombing Syria has emerged. The opportunity here for mischief and delay is unlimited – Oh, we’re rounding up the weapons, but this takes time, and of course UN inspectors must confirm, and – wait – aren’t there a few more?
Meanwhile, Obama must continue to press Congress to approve a strike even while Syria tries to seem reasonable. And if we go ahead with this, what will Obama do in a month when Syria suddenly alleges that the UN inspectors are spies and throws them all out? Start the march to war again?
White House Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken, presented during an appearance at the White House this afternoon with the new reality, insisted this is a Russian proposal, and that the U.S. would “take a hard look” at it.
Asked by a persistent reporter whether it wasn’t indeed Kerry that launched this, Blinken said, “I believe he was answering a question and speaking hypothetically.”
Meanwhile, Blinken tried to undermine the idea, saying the chemical weapons were “spread across the country” and “it would certainly take time, resources, and a peaceful environment to deal with this.”
Yeah, well, didn’t Kerry suggest doing it “in the next week”?
Clearly anticipating the trouble this will cause on Capitol Hill, Blinken added that Syria’s apparent interest in giving up its chemical weapons is happening “in the context of U.S. pressure” and therefore it’s “even more important that we don’t take the pressure off” and that Congress vote to approve an attack.
Who knows, maybe this is even workable. Maybe we can get those weapons out. That would be great. I haven’t really thought it through. The problem is, neither have Obama or Kerry.