Kerry and Obama got played!

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    Kerry and Obama got played!

    This, apparently, is how diplomacy happens these days: Someone makes an off-hand remark at a press conference and triggers an international chain reaction that turns an already chaotic and complex situation completely on its head, and gives everyone a sense that, perhaps, this is the light at the end of the indecision tunnel.

    Speaking in London next to British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said that perhaps the military strike around which the administration has been painfully circling for weeks could be avoided if Bashar al-Assad can "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 for that.”

    The fact that Kerry immediately followed with, “But he isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done, obviously,” didn't seem to bother anyone. (Probably because they were focusing on his other slip-up: calling the promised strikes "unbelievably small.")

    The Russians immediately jumped on the impromptu proposal, calling Kerry to check if he was serious before going live with their proposal to lean on Syria. An hour later, they trotted out Syria's foreign minister, Walid al-Mouallem, who said he too was down with the proposal, which was a strange way to get the Syrians to finally admit they even had chemical weapons to begin with. Before long, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, the English, and the French were all on board, too.

    Meanwhile, back in Washington, the White House was just as surprised as anyone. Asked if this was a White House plan that Kerry had served up in London, Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken was unequivocal. "No, no, no," he said. "We literally just heard about this as you did some hours ago."

    So that's good. At least everyone's on the same page.

    While the Russians are already cutting deals and drumming up promises from the Syrians—with whom, as they've insisted for years, they have no leverage—and as the world lines up on the off-ramp, the White House was still marshalling its case for a military strike, trotting out National Security Advisor Susan Rice, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and poor Tony Blinken, who was left making the case for two mutually exclusive things: "We'll talk to the Russians," he kept repeating even as he hammered on the intelligence and the need to degrade, deter, et cetera, et cetera.

    Last night, President Barack Obama, who, just over a week ago, had said he was ready to act, tells the nation's cable watchers that he's now discussing this bogus plan with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and that he's "going to take this very seriously" while also not letting up on the drumbeat of military strikes while. On Tuesday, Syria said it had accepted Russia's proposal and France said it would seek the UN Security Council's backing for the proposal.

    What happened was Kerry went off message and, as has been his wont as Secretary of State, off the reservation, and violated the cardinal rule of official press conferences: He answered a hypothetical question in a hypothetical way. He blurted out a pie-in-the-sky, hyperbolic idea—getting rid of "every single bit" of the chemical weapons scattered across Syria "in the next week"—but everyone seized on it as a realistic proposal. It's not.

    First, how do you deal with a regime that only admits it has chemical weapons under the threat of impending military intervention? Or that uses chemical weapons while a team of U.N. inspectors is there to investigate the prior use of chemical weapons, in the same city?

    Second, that handful of chemical weapons storage and mixing facilities are just the ones we know about, and, now that the U.S. has been loudly beating the war drum for weeks, Assad has been moving his troops and weapons around. If we thought getting to "beyond a reasonable doubt" with the intelligence on the August 21 chemical attack was hard, imagine us getting to "every single bit."

    Third, negotiating with the Russians and the Syrians about what "every single bit" and what disposing them mean will certainly take more than "the next week." Both Moscow and Damascus have all the time in the world, and the Kremlin, which has never met a legal norm it couldn't waltz around, will quibble and hair-split and insist that this is all done legally—whatever that means in Moscow.

    hat happened was Kerry went off message and, as has been his wont as Secretary of State, off the reservation, and violated the cardinal rule of official press conferences: He answered a hypothetical question in a hypothetical way. He blurted out a pie-in-the-sky, hyperbolic idea—getting rid of "every single bit" of the chemical weapons scattered across Syria "in the next week"—but everyone seized on it as a realistic proposal. It's not.

    First, how do you deal with a regime that only admits it has chemical weapons under the threat of impending military intervention? Or that uses chemical weapons while a team of U.N. inspectors is there to investigate the prior use of chemical weapons, in the same city?

    Second, that handful of chemical weapons storage and mixing facilities are just the ones we know about, and, now that the U.S. has been loudly beating the war drum for weeks, Assad has been moving his troops and weapons around. If we thought getting to "beyond a reasonable doubt" with the intelligence on the August 21 chemical attack was hard, imagine us getting to "every single bit."

    Third, negotiating with the Russians and the Syrians about what "every single bit" and what disposing them mean will certainly take more than "the next week." Both Moscow and Damascus have all the time in the world, and the Kremlin, which has never met a legal norm it couldn't waltz around, will quibble and hair-split and insist that this is all done legally—whatever that means in Moscow.

    Fourth, the mechanics of disposing these chemical weapons are far from straightforward. Quoth the Times: "flying [the chemical weapons] out of the country is not as simple as picking up nuclear components—as the United States did in Libya in late 2003—and moving them to a well-guarded site in Tennessee."

    Fifth, and most important, is the fact that Assad giving up his chemical weapons was only part of the stated objective. If you listened to the White House pitch closely, the point of the military strike was not just to stop Assad from using chemical weapons further on his citizens, and it was not just to warn other rogue leaders with their fingers on various triggers. Part of the goal was to force a political solution that would remove Assad from power. That is, even though the Obama administration has been insisting that it is not interested in "regime change," that disastrous cornerstone of the Bush era, it was, in fact, pursuing regime change, at least until Monday.

    On August 21, just hours after the sarin attack in Ghouta, a Damascus suburb, had occurred, Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest spoke of the failure of international pressure to achieve a key administration goal: "We've seen evidence and indications that the Assad regime is feeling that pressure, but you're right that we have notthat it has not resulted in the outcome that we would like to see, which is Assad being completely removed from power," Earnest said. "That’s not just the preference of the United States of America, that’s the will of the Syrian people and that’s why it's important." This was what Senator John McCain managed to pry from General Martin Dempsey during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last week, that the goal of a military strike was "to change the military equation on the battlefield," and what he worked into the committee's resolution to authorize the use of force in Syria. This, the administration has insisted, was what made the military option so important: creating the opening for a diplomatic solution.

    Well, on Monday, the administration argued, correctly, that the threat of a strike has done just that. "I don't think we would have gotten to this point unless we had maintained a credible possibility for a military strike," Obama said in an interview with ABC, adding, "and I don't think now is the time for us to let up on that." But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already scrapped the vote on the authorization of the use of force. And, given how bleak the vote count was looking pre-Kerry gaffe, and given how audible the sigh of relief from the Hill was, it's clear to everyone that the jig is up. Now that there's a semblance of a diplomatic option, the military option has evaporated. "The momentum is moving against us," said one Senate staffer. "We’re on track to lose this thing. Our folks are dropping like flies."

     here are two clear winners in this slow-motion train wreck, and they are not Obama or Kerry. They are Assad and Putin. Both wanted, for their own reasons, to avert a military strike, and a military strike was averted. Putin insisted on a diplomatic solution while doing everything to make a diplomatic solution impossible, and now he gets his phony, unenforceable diplomatic solution. Assad wanted to go on killing his opposition, and he will continue to do so.

    Obama, on the other hand, found himself constantly check-mated, either by his own hand, or, this time, by Kerry's. First, he drew a red line on chemical weapons, seemingly by accident. Then, he all but ignored chemical weapons use by Assad until the evidence forced itself on the world. Then he agonized on whether to act, while Dempsey and the Pentagon rolled him, leaking their military plans to anyone who would listen, "probably," said one insider, "because they didn't want to act." Then, he talked about how limited the strikes would be, all while Assad moved his men and his guns into residential areas and the Russians moved their ships in. Then, out of nowhere, he decided to take it to Congress. "The president says that he’s going to launch strikes and then, suddenly, he’s going to Congress. It's probably one of the more incredible things I’ve ever seen," McCain told me. "We were all dumbfounded," said another Senate staffer.

    Then came the persuasion of Congress, a legislative body that can't even pass a farm bill, or a gun-control measure favored by a crushing majority of the American people. The president didn't call Congress back, so instead, congressmen and senators got spend nearly two weeks marinating not in the intelligence, but in the vehement opposition of their constituents. Those that were in town—like the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—were rushed through the process of putting together a resolution before they even heard the classified briefing. Others, relative moderates like Republicans Saxby Chambliss and Kelly Ayotte who would normally support such a measure, complained that the briefings were vague and short on specifics.

    Obama, meanwhile, took off for Sweden, and, as the town halls roiled with anger, put off his address to the country for the following week. While abroad, he managed to further humiliate himself in the eyes of Putin, who already sees him as weak. Obama, having just called off his bilateral summit with Putin because Russia granted asylum to Edward Snowden, went ahead and met with Putin anyway. It was a pointless meeting—"We both stuck to our guns," Putin said afterwards—but in Russia, the message was unmistakable: Putin is stronger, and Putin won.

    Meanwhile, back home, the nays fell into place and the yeahs became fewer and fewer, and the talk in Washington was about what Obama will do if Congress says no? Or if the Senate says yes but the House says no? And just when it couldn't get any more discombobulated, Kerry opened the door to a nonsense Russian diplomatic solution, just three days after Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said publicly it would be naive to count on Russia diplomatically.

    As it stands now, Russia and France have taken the lead on working out a plan to get Assad to hand over his chemical weapons, a lead Obama seems all too happy to relinquish. Hammering out the details will take a some time, and, while they're at it, Assad will still have his chemical weapons but will no longer be under the threat of a U.S. military strike. (Who knows if he'll use them, but he certainly hasn't let up on the conventional shelling.) Putin has succeeded in throwing sand in the gears of the American political process and separating the U.S. from its allies, and the current American handwringing over Syria seems likely to grind on for weeks. And a pro-Assad paper ran with the following headline this morning: "Moscow and Damascus Pull the Rug Out From Under the Feet of Obama."

    Meanwhile, the president is supposed to address the nation tonight. He was supposed to make the case for military action, but his advisors spent Monday night frantically reworking the speech. What will he say? What can he say?

    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/114655/obama-syria-policy-octopus-fighting-itself

     

     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from macnh1. Show macnh1's posts

    Re: Kerry and Obama got played!

    i feel bad for kerry, Obama is making his life miserable...

     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from Hansoribrother. Show Hansoribrother's posts

    Re: Kerry and Obama got played!

    No, your article has it all wroong. Obama and Kerry had this all planned out ahead of time. Sure it looks like they are the Keystone Kops of foreign policy, but that is part of the scheme to fool Assad and Putin into giving up their chemical weapons.

     
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  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from tvoter. Show tvoter's posts

    Re: Kerry and Obama got played!

    Russia is not about to make syria give up any weapons!

    Now all the sudden you trust putin? lol

     

    Kerry made a silly comment and gave a what he thought was far fetched scenerio but, Putin went on the world stage (which was already against an attack) and used those words against him.

    plain and simple and the educated world knows it.

     
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  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from Hansoribrother. Show Hansoribrother's posts

    Re: Kerry and Obama got played!

    In response to WhatDoYouWantNow's comment:

    Kerry and Obama wanted to deter Syria and others from using WMDs with a limited ineffective strike.

    How are they "played" if they get more than that: Partially or fully WMD-disarmed Syria?

     

     

    Kerry may have stumbled into the situation, but that doesn't mean the situation is a negative one.



    When Obama is going all over the place from Red Lines to accidental pacifism it is a bit hard to tell who played who.

    Barack Obama: from Curtis LeMay to Neville Chamberalin in 3 days.

    In some respects though Obama did get played. He was Mr. Tough Guy and wanted to punish Syria. Then when the rest of the world saw how pointless his plan was he was left alone. 

    So Kerry makes a flub, then Russia and Syria call us on it and Obama all of the sudden is clutching his Nobel Peace Prize. 

    Obama calls of his attack. But - Syria still has the chemical weapons, Russia cancelled the Security Council meeting they called for and now will not negotiate unless we declare we will not attack Syria.

    So at best it is a stand off, which from the Russian point of view is a victory. Plus public perception of Obama is awful, he is being made to look like a fool.

    How long before he goes back to his Curtis LeMay personna when the Russians won't deal the way he wants?

     

     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from tvoter. Show tvoter's posts

    Re: Kerry and Obama got played!

    In response to A_Concerned_Citizen's comment:

    Hey spanky, don't look now but you're the one siding with Putin and you're the one who believed Putin when he said it was the rebels who used those weapons.

    How the heck is Putin and Syria capitulating to our demands, no matter how far fetched or off-the-cuff, some kind of 'win' for them. THEY AGREED TO REPORT WMD AND DISARM!!!! It's incredible how far up Putin's backside you have to climb to think that is a 'win' for them.

    And then there is the overarching reality that Putin is in fact on the record as supporting the disarming of Syria so Russia cannot block a UN resolution to that effect. Again the US gets EXACTLY what we wanted, a UN sanctioned resolution for disarming Syria.

    Most of humanity would take those so-called 'wins' by countries with wmd and the countries who sponsor them. It would virtually end major combat around the globe.

    But of course that's a bad thing by neo-con standards, no more futile death and destruction.

    Only a buffoon who sides with Putin can try and twist reality like you are.



    First: Do you not see how uncivil and childish your posts are?

    Second: I never said I believed putin at anytime. I did say the rebels would be the ones to benefit from an attack by us and I would not put alqeida types known to be affiliated with the rebels to gas a village to get the US to attack their enemy when they are losing. It made no sense for assad to use them when he had the upper hand in the conflict.

    It makes more sense that putin is just trying to buy time to give Assad the time he needs to defeat the rebels by stalling like this for months or longer with this disarming fallacy.

     

     

     
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  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from skeeter20. Show skeeter20's posts

    Re: Kerry and Obama got played!

    In response to A_Concerned_Citizen's comment:

    In response to tvoter's comment:

     

    Russia is not about to make syria give up any weapons!

    Now all the sudden you trust putin? lol

     

    Kerry made a silly comment and gave a what he thought was far fetched scenerio but, Putin went on the world stage (which was already against an attack) and used those words against him.

    plain and simple and the educated world knows it.

     

     

     

     




     

    Hey spanky, don't look now but you're the one siding with Putin and you're the one who believed Putin when he said it was the rebels who used those weapons.

    How the heck is Putin and Syria capitulating to our demands, no matter how far fetched or off-the-cuff, some kind of 'win' for them. THEY AGREED TO REPORT WMD AND DISARM!!!! It's incredible how far up Putin's backside you have to climb to think that is a 'win' for them.

    And then there is the overarching reality that Putin is in fact on the record as supporting the disarming of Syria so Russia cannot block a UN resolution to that effect. Again the US gets EXACTLY what we wanted, a UN sanctioned resolution for disarming Syria.

    Most of humanity would take those so-called 'wins' by countries with wmd and the countries who sponsor them. It would virtually end major combat around the globe.

    But of course that's a bad thing by neo-con standards, no more futile death and destruction.

     

    Only a buffoon who sides with Putin can try and twist reality like you are.



    Recognizing that Putin got the best of Kerry and Obama is somehow siding with him?

    I WISH we had a president and a Secretary of State that were not such idiots.

     
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from MattyScornD. Show MattyScornD's posts

    Re: Kerry and Obama got played!

    The sheer looniness on the right only succeeds in making POTUS look better to the majority of rational-thinking people.  They've been wrong so often and so spectacularly as to personify negative reinforcement.

    I won't award undue (or premature) praise to Obama, much less over some idiot columnist's idea of 'gamesmanship'.  A diplomatic solution was always the desired result, no matter how distant.

    Wiser heads would do just as well not to bury the bodies before they're dead, in a manner of speaking....

     

     

     
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  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from tvoter. Show tvoter's posts

    Re: Kerry and Obama got played!

    In response to WhatDoYouWantNow's comment:

    In response to A_Concerned_Citizen's comment:

     

    How about WDYWN?




    plenty of my posts have disappeared so I wouldn't be surprised if he was the/a culprit...   



    yo0u can believe what you wish but, i have no reason to lie

     
  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from tvoter. Show tvoter's posts

    Re: Kerry and Obama got played!

    In response to A_Concerned_Citizen's comment:

     

    Do you ever report CLC for being "uncivil"?

    How about WDYWN?

    How about yourself?

    Spare me the sanctimonious baloney.

     



    Plenty of my posts have been deleted as well

     
  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from MattyScornD. Show MattyScornD's posts

    Re: Kerry and Obama got played!

    In response to skeeter20's comment:

     

    Recognizing that Putin got the best of Kerry and Obama is somehow siding with him?


    No, it just makes you look like a disingenuous dou(c)he cheering on a U.S. rival.

    But no surprise that a conservative would support a conservative like Putin who hates teh gays and is soused on his own power.

     

     

     
  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from tvoter. Show tvoter's posts

    Re: Kerry and Obama got played!

    In response to MattyScornD's comment:

    The sheer looniness on the right only succeeds in making POTUS look better to the majority of rational-thinking people.  They've been wrong so often and so spectacularly as to personify negative reinforcement.

    I won't award undue (or premature) praise to Obama, much less over some idiot columnist's idea of 'gamesmanship'.  A diplomatic solution was always the desired result, no matter how distant.

    Wiser heads would do just as well not to bury the bodies before they're dead, in a manner of speaking....

     



    So, you do not believe it is even feasible that putin seized on kerry's disarm comment to buy assad time? Time to beat the rebels, fortify his military against an air strike or just time to pass  so that an US air strike will seem even more provocative to the world?

     
  19. You have chosen to ignore posts from MattyScornD. Show MattyScornD's posts

    Re: Kerry and Obama got played!

    In response to tvoter's comment:

    In response to MattyScornD's comment:

     

    The sheer looniness on the right only succeeds in making POTUS look better to the majority of rational-thinking people.  They've been wrong so often and so spectacularly as to personify negative reinforcement.

    I won't award undue (or premature) praise to Obama, much less over some idiot columnist's idea of 'gamesmanship'.  A diplomatic solution was always the desired result, no matter how distant.

    Wiser heads would do just as well not to bury the bodies before they're dead, in a manner of speaking....

     



    So, you do not believe it is even feasible that putin seized on kerry's disarm comment to buy assad time? Time to beat the rebels, fortify his military against an air strike or just time to pass  so that an US air strike will seem even more provocative to the world?

     



    Of course it's feasible, but it's also highly unlikely and farfetched.

    By way of analogy, I think Assad has become like Nicky Santoro in Casino - a good earner for the bosses but also a troublemaker and unpredictable.  Before the bosses would allow a rival to take him out, they either do it themselves to save face or at least send an appropriate message.

    Again, I'm not giving out any trophies or picking winners.  That's for the media cretins.  I believe it's more important to filter out as much of the fog of war as possible.

     

     
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  21. You have chosen to ignore posts from tvoter. Show tvoter's posts

    Re: Kerry and Obama got played!

    In response to A_Concerned_Citizen's comment:


    No, if Russia wanted to buy time that agreement to disarm would've been slow-walked to Assad. As it was, it happened virtually overnight.

    He couldnt slow walk it since the attack could have been hours away!

    How can agreeing to having international observers in your country inspecting every weapons system, in the midst of a civil war, be a plus for Assad?

    How long to assemble a team, plan areas where to look and how to avoid heavy fighting in a coutry ingulfed in civil war?

    How can agreeing to dismantle weapons, that you've already shown to the world that you're willing to use on civilians and rebels alike, help Assad stay in power. It only removes one more arrow from his quiver.

    We are the only country besides Israel that is sold on assads use or at least the only country that wants to take seriious action! No other country supported military action! So, pretending to dismantle just improves his world image and if, he doesnt what will we do...attack him??

    The war has been going on for 2 1/2 years and the rebels have taken over large parts of the country. At best, Assad hasn't lost the war but he surely hasn't been able to exert control over the large, rebel controlled areas. After Assad used the chemical weapons, many countries will be more receptive to arming the rebels.

    When because they certainly havent been receptive yet!

    Assad controls the ports, air space and most major arteries. He is choking the supply chains and will win the war without intervention from outside forces aka (USA)!

     

     [/QUOTE]


     
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  23. You have chosen to ignore posts from tvoter. Show tvoter's posts

    Re: Kerry and Obama got played!

    In response to WhatDoYouWantNow's comment:

     

    In response to tvoter's comment:

    So, you do not believe it is even feasible that putin seized on kerry's disarm comment to buy assad time? Time to beat the rebels, fortify his military against an air strike or just time to pass  so that an US air strike will seem even more provocative to the world?




    Time to beat the rebels? He's had two years......

     

    YES and he has control of almost all supply lines now; it's just a matter of choking them off. With out our help in this he will certainly remain in power.

    Fortify his military against an air strike? I dunno..how long does it take to build a bunker-buster proof bunker, and move weapons in?

    Fortify with air defense weapons or relocate his arsenal of chem weapons


    Seem more provocative to the world? .......eh...   

    Yes, the iron was hot so to speak right after the pictures of children dying  from being gassed were all over, even though we were the only country that supported military action even with those images! Six weeks or six months from now the world will see an airstrike by the USA as even more provocative!



     

     
  24. You have chosen to ignore posts from tvoter. Show tvoter's posts

    Re: Kerry and Obama got played!

    In response to WhatDoYouWantNow's comment:

    In response to tvoter's comment:

     

    Seem more provocative to the world? .......eh...   

    Yes, the iron was hot so to speak right after the pictures of children dying  from being gassed were all over, even though we were the only country that supported military action even with those images! Six weeks or six months from now the world will see an airstrike by the USA as even more provocative

     



    Didn't 10 of 20 at the G20 support a strike? What about France and other countries?


    He didn't get a UN resolution, that's true, but you are ignoring the fact that he went out and gathered more support as time went on.



    No one at the G20 supported a military strike!

    They supported action up to but, NOT including a US military strike.

     
  25. You have chosen to ignore posts from skeeter20. Show skeeter20's posts

    Re: Kerry and Obama got played!

    In response to MattyScornD's comment:

    The sheer looniness on the right only succeeds in making POTUS look better to the majority of rational-thinking people.  They've been wrong so often and so spectacularly as to personify negative reinforcement.

    I won't award undue (or premature) praise to Obama, much less over some idiot columnist's idea of 'gamesmanship'.  A diplomatic solution was always the desired result, no matter how distant.

    Wiser heads would do just as well not to bury the bodies before they're dead, in a manner of speaking....

     

     



    Right. The press and the right wingers are all in a conspiracy to make sure Putin gets the credit here And Obama doesn't.

     
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