“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.
From “How Iran, Putin and Assad Outwitted America,” David Keyes, TheDailyBeast:
“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 enmasse. …
“[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.
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.
From “How Assad Could Twist a Chemical Weapons Treaty to Keep His Poison Gas,” Yochi Dreazen, “The Cable,” ForeignPolicy:
“‘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.'”
Using the hope that Syria will agree to give up its chemical weapons (because you know what stand-up guys Putin and Assad are), the Senate has postponed its vote on the resolution for a military strike. The vote had been scheduled for Wednesday.
And I woke up this morning thinking this thing couldn’t be an even bigger mess. I seriously misunderestimated how much John Kerry’s chronic “thinking out loud” could throw even more sand in the gears of this strike that Obama should have done the weekend before last.
Secretary of State John Kerry says Assad definitely used chemical weapons:
“What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality. Let me be clear: The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard it is inexcusable, and despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable. The meaning of this attack goes beyond the conflict in Syria itself. That conflict has already brought so much terrible suffering. This is about the large-scale indiscriminate use of weapons that the civilized world long ago decided must never be used at all.”
“With full cognizance of the human toll of the Syrian civil war, I just wanted to say that I really wish the White House would not have taken this step. It seems like a small step – basically small arms to a totally disorganized insurgency that now seems to be on the ropes. But these slopes tend to be very slippery. And my gut feel is that this is being driven not by a clear or concerted strategy but rather by being pinned down by earlier statements and slowly giving way to outside analysts, talkative senators and allies who, inevitably, will not share much of any of the burden of an expanding intervention.”
Remember when Obama said that if Syria’s President Assad used chemical weapons against his own people, it would be a “red line” and the U. S. would do, um, something? Remember when Assad used those forbidden chemical weapons, and O went all Emily Litella on us and said “never mind”?
Well, the red line is back. The White House says that Assad used sarin gas, and we are now going to give weapons to the rebels, but just the good rebels, not the radical Islamist rebels. Good luck with that.
We’ve been getting them some arms unofficially, so now it will be done openly and on a larger scale.
Susan Rice, who withdrew from consideration as secretary of state after criticism over her Sunday talk show appearances right after the Benghazi terror attacks on 9/11/12 that left four Americans, including Amb. Chris Stevens, dead, is President Obama’s new national security adviser. The job doesn’t require Senate confirmation, so Rice’s GOP enemies can’t do anything about it. She who laughs last, laughs best.
The losers here — besides those GOP enemies — are John Kerry and the Syrian rebels. Kerry because foreign policy will be concentrated at the White House now, giving him less power, and the rebels because Rice opposes intervention in the Syrian civil war, where the tide is turning in Assad’s favor.
Speaking of “power,” Obama is nominating Samantha Power to replace Rice at the U. N.