Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Tale Told By an Idiot: War on a Hunch? Stumbling into Peace? Makes Sense to Me

The past few days have constituted the Obama administration's 'WTF?' moment. This past Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough confessed that the administration did not have clear-cut evidence that Bashar al-Assad was behind the nerve gas incident at Ghouta on August 21. Although it did not have clear-cut evidence, the White House said it was proceeding on the basis of 'common sense.' As in 'common sense' said that Assad must have done the deed:

“This is not a court of law. And intelligence does not work that way,” White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said during his five-network public relations blitz Sunday to build support for limited strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“The common-sense test says he is responsible for this."
Link to Washington Post story

Excuse me?

That's just another way of saying the administration (or factions within it) had a hunch that Assad was behind the attack but couldn't prove it. So, as Monday broke, they were still saber-rattling to beat the band, beating the war drums with a racket to give the Venice Beach weekend drum circle a run for its money. Just doesn't pass the smell test. Stinks like a rotten fish.

Then early Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry appeared at a press conference and was asked if there were anythng Syria could do to head off an attack:

"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 (of it) but he isn't about to do it and it can't be done."
Link to Reuters story

Kerry was not counting on the wiliness of Vladimir Putin, nor the caginess of al-Assad. Russia immediately pounced on Kerry's impromptu remark to say she would be suggesting to Syria that it consider the proposal. And Syria, quicker than you can say 'WMD,' announced it would welcome the chance to turn its chem weapons over to international control.

This all happened faster than the State Department could react. Only after the Syrians had accepted Kerry's proposal, did the State Department deign to inform us all that Kerry's words were 'simply rhetorical.' After that walk-back raised eyebrows, the State Department walked back its own walk-back in saying that the only thing rhetorical was Kerry's speculation that Syria would not accept the offer.

But the offer was apparently one that Kerry (and possiblyObama himself?) never expected the Syrians to accept. So when Syria accepted, it was too late for the administration to retract the offer.

Thus, the U.S. stumbled into peace. Any measure short of war offers a moment to be praised, but this is idiot diplomacy. Certainly not a Cuban Missile Crisis moment. More of a 'WTF?' moment.

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