Say what you want about John Kerry, but the man knows how to get out of sticky situations, even if his exit strategies are unconventional (his ticket out of Vietnam, for example involved an ass full of rice). After what appears to be a week of sleepless nights and cancelled Botox appointments, this morning, Kerry delivered the administration’s foreign policy address to a London audience.
Aside from potentially referring to an Obama Administration military offensive as “unbelievably small,” which gives nearly everyone on the fence about the attack reason to happily trust in our leaders’ foresight, John Kerry made a flippant remark about asking Syria to turn their chemical weapons over to the international community if they didn’t want airborne killing robots invading their airspace.
And that’s when the sun came out and the birds started singing and the unicorns began prancing through the underbrush and John Kerry discovered that this diplomacy thing is so easy even he can do it.
America’s top diplomat suggested in a passing remark that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could avoid a U.S.-led strike if he handed over all his chemical weapons, but the State Department quickly dismissed the comment as more of a “rhetorical argument” than an offer.
In a London news conference this morning, Secretary of State John Kerry responded to a question about whether Assad could do anything to avoid war by saying “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 a full and total accounting.”
Kerry delivered the statement almost dismissively and quickly said Assad had no intention of giving up “weapons he denies using.” But it was still the first time such a suggestion had been made by the Obama administration.
The administration immediately freaked out and denied that the statement was anything more than Kerry’s patented “thinking out loud,” best exemplified by his deep thoughts on the need for ground troops in last week’s Congressional hearings, calling the remarks “rhetorical” and reiterating that the Administration has already discounted a diplomatic resolution.
So, it’s an oops. But it’s a brilliant oops, right? Russia is already pressuring the UN for more time for Syrian officials, presumably so that Russia can clear out all of the Cold War era weaponry they’ve been letting Assad “borrow” and sell it to another third world dictator to cover the paper trail, and have said that they would be willing to swing by the Middle East and pick up the chemical weapons if Assad agrees. In fact, they’d be happy to. Possibly because their stock is low and demand among African warlords has recently risen. But either way, they’re totally fine with getting their hands dirty.
But in the end, although the US has not used any peaceful means to control Assad before, the plan gets the weapons out of Assad’s hands and into the hands of the international community, which means that America can abandon it’s idiotic plan to pepper the coastline with firecrackers and safety flares, and we still don’t have to worry about lesser Middle Eastern terrorists getting a Sarin gas windfall. Sure, the UN might just sell the chemical weapons back to the rebel alliance anyway, but at least it wouldn’t be our fault when our friendly, definitely not terrorist rebel friends set off a canister in Gaza with a Syrian barcode. Plus, if Assad is as hard to convince as Kerry would have us believe, then a military attack – or at least the threat of one – makes a little more sense. Sort of. At least, more sense than it makes now.
Sure, we’ll probably look kind of stupid, but we already look kind of stupid, and as the Administration slams head first into a likely “no” vote on a use of force authorization, being caught with our pants down now, before we commit our armed forces and risk American lives might not be such a bad thing.
UPDATE: Syria now says it might just cooperate with Russia and the White House is “taking a hard look” at Russia’s offer to put Syria’s chemical weapons under UN control. ZOMG.