More than four years ago, President Obama first declared that Syria’s President Bashar Assad was “standing in the way” of progress for the Syrian people and that “the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”
Several times since then, the president and Secretary of State John Kerry have reiterated that demand. As recently as last month, Obama repeated his determination to see Assad out of office:
U.S. President Barack Obama said Russia must make a strategic decision about Syria and the next several weeks will show whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will give up backing the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad to join in a broad campaign against Islamic State.
The U.S. won’t in any circumstances agree to a political settlement for the civil war in Syria that leaves Assad in power because he’s lost all legitimacy, Obama said. As long as Assad remains, there is no way to unite the country’s various factions for the fight against Islamic State.
“It is not conceivable that Mr. Assad can regain legitimacy in a country in which a large majority of that country despises Assad, and will not stop fighting so long as he’s in power,” Obama said Sunday at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur.
Apparently, it is now “conceivable.”
President Obama and his secretary of state have now capitulated completely to President Vladimir Putin’s position that there should be no regime change in Syria. Kerry made the announcement in Moscow after meeting with Putin for several hours.
“The United States and its partners are not seeking regime change in Syria,” Kerry said in a news conference inside the Kremlin, before immediately adding that the U.S. continues to believe that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has no possibility of remaining the country’s leader in the future.
However, the statement appeared to be the most explicit sign yet that the U.S. is softening its policy towards Assad and marked a significant rhetorical shift for the U.S. towards Russia’s policy in Syria, which previously American officials have said was almost fundamentally at odds with their own.
Washington had been insisting Assad must step down immediately, although recently U.S. officials have suggested that he could remain in power during a transition period. Kerry’s efforts to shift the discussion away from Assad’s personal future, seemed to bring the U.S. closer to Moscow’s position that real peace talks might be able to begin prior to Assad’s removal.
“Despite the different positions of our countries, we have shown that Russia and the United States are moving in the same direction,” Kerry said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was also upbeat, calling the talks “substantive.”
Kerry’s unusually long, three-and-a-half hour meeting with Putin followed a day of discussions with Lavrov, trying to explore ways of inching forward a peace process for Syria, which recently has taken on a new urgency.
I’d call President Obama a “cheese eating surrender monkey” but I know I shouldn’t do that, despite the fact that everyone knows the term is a pejorative applied the French, many of whom happen to be white.
Peace in Syria is Kerry’s latest cure all for the Middle East. If we can stop the fighting, Islamic State will magically disappear, there will be peace between the Arabs and Israel, and Iran will lose influence and power. Like most stupid people, Kerry is single minded to a fault and will go to great lengths to achieve his historic “firsts.” And by “great lengths,” I mean he will invariably cave in to the demands of adversaries for the privilege of standing before microphones and telling us about his latest “triumph of diplomacy.”
Red lines that aren’t red lines. Terms in a nuclear deal with Iran that are non-negotiable are negotiated away. Bringing the boys and girls home from Iraq only to send them back. An Afghanistan draw-down that turns into a ramping up. What do we make of all this?
Where there are no principles to undergird one’s philosophy or ideology, there is nothing to defend. There is only expediency, where beliefs become frangible and sacrificing them to the ultimate “good” of achieving agreement is easy. Previous statements become inoperable as surrendering to the goal trumps everything else.
These are men without character. They certainly don’t have the stones to defend American interests. And we still have one year, one month, and five days to survive before they exit the stage.