Oh, Buy a Clue, Kerry

“They [the Russians] are, in fact, enabling Assad to double down, which is creating an enormous problem.”

John Kerry, sounding surprised and dazed, on Syria

An enormous problem?  How about a shameful humanitarian crisis?  And did you really think Putin was going to be helpful?

The Syrian peace talks in Geneva are dead, as are about 150,000 Syrians, with many hundreds of thousands more either starving from living under siege at home or struggling in ragged refugee settlements in Turkey and Lebanon and Jordan.

So the U. S. is reviewing its options, but neither air strikes nor supplying heavy weapons to the rebels is even on the table.  In other words, no serious options.

Obama can tell himself Americans don’t have the stomach for another military involvement, but really he’s telling Putin he doesn’t have the guts.

Disappointing, But Unsurprising, Headline of the Day

“U. S. Says Syria Delaying Chemical Disarmament,” Naftali Bendavid aand Adam Entous, WSJ

“Just 4% of Syria’s 530 metric tons of most-dangerous chemicals have been removed…despite a Dec. 31, 2013 deadline for removing all of them.”

So the Obama Administration has lain down with dogs and is shocked, shocked to wake up with fleas.  Which reminds me of that dog in Kiev who had an uncanny resemblance to Vladimir Putin…

Very Sad, But Very True — and Very Scary

From “How Iran, Putin and Assad Outwitted America,” David Keyes, The Daily Beast:

“Historians will look back at the present moment with astonishment that Iran so skillfully outwitted the West.  They will note the breathtaking naivete of American and European officials who let a brutal theocracy undermine Western interests throughout the Middle East.  At one of Iran’s most vulnerable moments, America threw the mullahs a life-line; an ill-conceived nuclear deal coupled with a complete inability to stop Syria, Iran’s closest ally, from continuing to slaughter en masse. …

“[Iranian foreign minister Mohamed] Zarif’s mission to Moscow quells any lingering hopes that Russia can be seduced away from Syria or Iran.  Putin has made a simple calculation:  Assad will protect his interests better than anyone.  Russia, in turn, has made it clear that it will prop up Syria’s tyrant and their Iranian backers at almost any cost. …

“Iran, Syria and Russia appear to be the strong horses of the Middle East.  Assad slaughters with impunity because he knows that no one will actually stop him.  Russia knows it can get away with backing Syria and Iran, because who is ready to pay the price to stop it? …

“It is no surprise that Iran’s mullahs are gloating that they outwitted the West with the recent nuclear deal.  They did.  Our sincere and overwhelming desire for peace clouded a sober reading of Iran’s intentions. …

“In this Middle Eastern proxy war, it often seems that only one side is actually fighting.  Russia is pouring massive sums of money and arms into Syria to prop up Assad. …”

I know we’re all enthralled by Christie’s bad motives in closing down those lanes, but the big story is Obama’s good intentions in paving this road to Hell.

 

What’s Wrong with This Picture?

Both the U. S. and our enemy Shiite Iran are on the same side in Iraq — supporting Shiite al-Maliki against Sunni Al Qaeda.

To a large extent, our frenemy Maliki brought his Anbar province troubles on himself by mistreating the Sunnis there and creating an opening for Al Qaeda.  Now he’s struggling to get the Sunni tribal leaders to turn against Al Qaeda and turn back to him, hoping they hate his guts a little less.

The violence spreading out from Syria shows that the Mideast right now is just fighting the Sunni-Shiite battle that’s been going on since the seventh century.  At this moment, it’s led by Saudi Arabia and Iran fanning proxy wars, just as the U. S. and Russia had their client states during the Cold War.  The Sunni Saudis are trying to fight both the Shiites and Al Qaeda, a monster they helped create.  Good luck with that.

We have to fight Al Qaeda and its affiliates, and we have to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, which would lead to Saudi Arabia’s getting nuclear weapons.  Resolving the Sunni-Shiite thing? Fuhgeddaboudit.

And So It Begins…

In his interview with Fox News, Syria’s President Assad said it was “no problem, we can do it tomorrow” to provide the inventory of his chemical weapons due this Saturday.

But now Syria admits it won’t make that seven-day deadline, and our State Department is saying “Oh, okay, whenever, Dude.”  They now claim “We’ve never said it was a hard and fast deadline,” but that’s how the agreement was presented to the world, as a date certain, not some loosey-goosey goal, if the Syrians were up for it.  And it’s tough to do a weapons inventory when you’re still busy laughing your asses off and high-fiving each other.

And of course there are now problems at the UN due to Russian intransigence with the resolution that must be passed before work can begin on securing those weapons.

This BS agreement is never going to become reality.  We’ll just move on to other issues and crises and eventually fuhgeddaboudit.

 

Chemical Weapons Experts Not Optimistic on Syria

From “How Assad Could Twist a Chemical Weapons Treaty to Keep His Poison Gas,” Yochi Dreazen, “The Cable,” Foreign Policy:

“‘The Chemical Weapons Convention was created to deal with a very different type of set of circumstances,’ said Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association.  ‘It was designed to deal with a country that was willing to renounce its chemical weapons voluntarily and not under coercion, a country where there was no real chance of them being used again, and a country that was stable enough that they could be destroyed safely.  None of those conditions exist in Syria.

“‘It’s not inconceivable that he adopts the Saddam Hussein playbook from the 1990s — refusing access to facilities, having the inspectors run around the country chasing their own tails — as a way of playing out the clock,’ said Brian Finlay of the Stimson Center.  ‘The more time that passes, the more the shock of the chemical weapons attack will fade away and the more the momentum for a strike will begin to disappear.  It’s clearly in his favor for this [to] stretch out as long as possible.'”

We’ve got nothing, people.

Quote of the Day 2

There is a trick in the great labyrinthine bazaars of the Middle East:  petty hucksters luring the vacationing franjis into the market maze and then getting paid to lead them out.  As dusk looms, the unnerved outsider is always glad to be steered to familiar surroundings.  In the matter of Syria, and America’s staggeringly inept diplomacy, Vladimir Putin is the clever trickster who has seized upon an unsuspecting prey.  The Russian strongman now proposes a way out for an American leader desperately searching for deliverance.”

Fouad Ajami, “Obama Is Lost in the Mideast Bazaar,” WSJ

Rand Paul Accuses Prez of Treason

I watched Rand Paul’s response to President Obama’s Syria speech on Fox News, which cut in a little late on the live speech, so all Fox viewers missed the opening.  I didn’t think anything of it until I later read the first sentence of his speech.  Now I wonder if Fox, with an advance copy of the text, purposely delaying switching to him.

Paul begins, “Twelve years after we were attacked by Al Qaeda, 12 years after 3,000 Americans were killed by Al Qaeda, President Obama now asks us to be allies with Al Qaeda.”

Basically, Paul says the President isn’t just wrong-headed about Syria, he’s a traitor, he’s a terrorist.  It’s not about upholding international abhorrence of chemical weapons, it’s about actively helping Al Qaeda.

And this guy is widely viewed as one of the front runners for the GOP nomination in 2016.

Can We Please Clear Up This Lie?

Among all the crap we’re being sold about Syria is that Syria has just admitted for the very first time that it has chemical weapons.  Not true!

I quote to you from The Guardian, July 23, 2012, “Syria insists chemical weapons would only be used against outside forces” by Ian Black:

“Syria has made it clear that it would only use deadly chemical or biological weapons if it was attacked by outside forces….

“Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, added his voice to a chorus of alarm over the issue as the Damascus government scored what observers ridiculed as a damaging own goal on Monday by admitting for the first time that possessed an arsenal of the banned weapons.”

“Barack Obama said Assad would be held accountable if [he] made the ‘tragic mistake’ of using chemical weapons.  ‘The world is watching,’ the American president said.

“Jihad Makdissi, the Syrian foreign ministry spokesman, was responding to public and private warnings from Israel and the US by insisting that the weapons would only be used in case of a foreign attack on Syria and not against its own people, as the opposition has warned could happen.

“‘No chemical or biological weapons will ever be used, and I repeat, will never be used…no matter what the developments inside Syria,’ he said at a press conference, reading from a prepaped statement.  ‘All of these types of weapons are in storage and under security and the direct supervision of the Syrian armed forces and will never be used unless Syria is exposed to external aggression.’

“Until now, Syria has never officially confirmed it has chemical weapons, although it is no surprise that it does.”

So why are we being fed this bizarre and blatant lie?

 

We Are Never, Ever Striking Syria

John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov came up with a four-page agreement that brings peace in our time removes the threat of U. S. missile strikes against Syria.

The agreement gives Syria until the middle of next year to get rid of its chemical weapons.  You know, until just before our mid-term elections.

They side-stepped the issue of the threat of force if Syria fails to live up to the agreement.  The agreement says that the non-compliance would go to the Security Council, where we know Russia would just veto any use of force.  Obama could still use force unilaterally, but we all know that ain’t gonna happen.  If he didn’t do it two weeks ago, before he got his enemies, foreign and domestic all enmeshed in the decision, he’s not doing it.

Syria is supposed to provide a list of its chemical weapons in a week, then outside inspectors are supposed to finish checking out Syria’s sites — in the middle of the civil war! — by November.

One of the Syrian rebel commanders reacted, “Let the Kerry-Lavrov plan go to hell.”  This is how you get to hell, on a road paved with good intentions.