So Secretary of State John Kerry gave an absurd Colin Powell-esque speech trying to justify war with Syria. The speech contradicted itself in numerous points and probably will go down in history as a low point for US foreign policy communication. But one claim in the speech was beyond absurd, that chemical weapons haven’t been used by the international community since WWI.
Our choices then, in history, had great consequences. And our choice today has great consequences. It matters that nearly 100 years ago in direct response to the utter horror and inhumanity of World War I that the civilized world agreed that chemical weapons should never be used again. That was the world’s resolve then. And that began nearly a century of effort to create a clear red line for the international community.
Unfortunately not only has the international community tolerated such weapons being used since World War I, the United States government has admitted complicity in the use of chemical weapons as recently as the 1980s. Did Secretary Kerry forget this? Kind of a big deal. And insult to injury:
This matters also beyond the limits of Syria’s borders. It is about whether Iran, which itself has been a victim of chemical weapons’ attacks, will now feel emboldened in the absence of action to obtain nuclear weapons.
The rest of the speech was equally bizarre as Kerry opened with a long polemic about dead Syrian children only to later say the military response had nothing to do with Syria.
So our concern is not just about some far-off land oceans away. That’s not what this is about. Our concern with the cause of the defenseless people of Syria is about choices that will directly affect our role in the world and our interests in the world.
And just in case you weren’t convinced the Obama Administration has no idea how to communicate with the public there was this ending tidbit which seemed to invalidate military action entirely.
The president has been clear: Any action that he might decide to take will be limited and (sic) tailored response to ensure that, a despots brutal and flagrant use of chemical weapons is held accountable. And ultimately, ultimately we are committed — we remain committed, we believe it’s — the primary objective is (sic) to have a diplomatic process that can resolve this through negotiation, because we know there is no ultimate military solution.
It has to be political.
It has to happen at the negotiating table.
And we are deeply committed to getting there.
So let’s attack?
One can only hope this disastrous speech and the inevitable blowback from everyone with a brain will convince the Obama Administration to try again.