Fools Rush In – And Paint Red Lines

Is it just me or does the Obama administration’s rhetoric and actions on Syria seem like a badly thought out episode of the Keystone Cops? The dawn of each new day seems to offer new possibilities for President Obama and his cronies (especially Secretary of State John Kerry) to say or do something foolish. Reminds me of the great Elvis tune, Fools Rush In… only this administration has anything but love on its mind.

Last year it was President Obama painting red lines in Syria that he didn’t have the ability to back up. Last week it was President Obama saying he didn’t paint any red lines at all – we apparently misunderstood what it was the President was saying. Now, it’s John Kerry’s turn.

Secretary of State Kerry has been the chief proponent of war in Syria for the Obama administration. It has been Kerry’s job to “sell” the war to the American public and other nations around the world. I think it’s fair to say that Kerry may have bitten off more than he could chew with this assignment. It’s not entirely his fault; there really isn’t much reason for us to engage Syria militarily, so Kerry doesn’t have much of consequence to say.

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The lack of good argument for war may have caused Secretary Kerry some trouble over the last few days because as he runs out of things to say, he seems to say some… “odd” things.

“Secretary of State John Kerry, who when asked earlier in the day what al-Assad could do to stop a U.S. strike, said that the Syrian leader “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 for that.” (Emphasis mine)

This was an amazing statement by the American Secretary of State. Kerry was seemingly offering Syria a way out of conflict with the United States; all they had to do was turn over control of their chemical weapons to the international community. Within hours, Russia, Syria, and the United Nations had grabbed this olive branch as a wonderful opportunity for international peace! It seemed like the best idea to come out of the White House in years… Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Hillary Clinton both praised Kerry’s idea as one that could bring peace.

Only one problem. He didn’t mean it, and more to the point, there is no way the White House will agree to those terms. “In the intervening hours, however, a White House official told CNN that Kerry’s comments were a ‘major goof,’ and that he ‘clearly went off-script.” An official with the administration went so far as to say, “There is no one in the administration who is taking this Syria proposal seriously.”

Secretary of State Kerry continued to have diarrhea of the mouth when he began describing the kind of intervention the White House was planning.

“We will be able to hold Bashar Assad accountable without engaging in troops on the ground or any other prolonged effort — in a very limited, very targeted, very short-term effort, that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons… What we’re talking about doing [is] an unbelievably small, limited kind of effort,” he said, similar to previous strikes “on many different occasions.”

KerryFoolAgain, Kerry apparently ran out of things to say and began adlibbing his way through his talking points. There are a few problems with Kerry’s statement. First, they are completely at odds with our military leaders’ assessments of what engagement in Syria would look like. The second problem is that it completely trivializes what is happening in Syria. Thirdly, if the reason for our “limited, very targeted, very short-term effort” was to hurt Syria’s ability to use chemical weapons and to keep Assad from using them again… then why on earth wouldn’t the Obama administration have move forward with the Kerry proposal that had Syria turning over their chemical weapons?

It sounds like the Obama administration doesn’t want to make sure Assad doesn’t use chemical weapons again… instead, it seems that what the White House really wants is to kill Syrians.


Update: President Obama has now embraced Kerry’s original proposal – so if Syria seriously gives up it’s chemical weapons President Obama won’t kill a bunch of people with missiles.

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