Just back from the State Department where the US-UK diplomacy on Syria has reached Monty Python levels of double-speak.
William Hague was agitated and impotent as usual. Reflecting long-standing British impatience with the US sitting on its hands over the Syrian conflict, he lambasted Assad in the usual manner: “murder” “tyranny” “grave threat” “urgent crisis”. You get the picture.
Mr Kerry spoke with even more emptiness than Mr Hague, before letting slip this pearl: “We are determined to do everything that we can in order to help the opposition to save Syria,” he said.
Really? “Everything that we can?” Ho-ho. You can just imagine the dark banter among the rebels camps in Aleppo or Homs tonight as Assad’s forces mass in preparation for an attack. Picture the scene:
Revolutionary 1: Where are the Americans? I thought they promised to help us?
Revolutionary 2: Yes. Indeed they have. They are the world’s unrivalled super-power and they are doing “everything they can” – that’s what that nice Mr Kerry said, anyway.
Revolutionary 1: Okay. But isn’t that a helicopter gunship coming towards us? They have all those F-16s, what happened to the no-fly zone?
Revolutionary 2: Ah, yes, that’s right, but what they mean is, it’s “everything they can”, apart from a no-fly zone.
Revolutionary 1: I see. So we’re getting surface-to-air missiles to shoot down the helicopter, right? Thing is, I’ve been back to the pick-up, but I can’t seem to find them? Searched everywhere, even
under the seats. There’s Kalashnikovs and a couple of RPGs, but not sure that’s gonna cut it.
Revolutionary 2: Ah, well, no. I should have been clearer. It’s “everything” apart from the no-fly zones and the SAMs. They can’t do SAMs, apparently, worried the Nusra Front boys might point them in the wrong direction.
Revolutionary 1: Mmm. Okay. Wait…pass the binoculars…oh sh*t. Is that tanks? Well at least the American’s sent those long-range, wire-guided anti-tank missiles…they did, right?
Revolutionary 2: Er…well, not exactly. But aside from no-fly zone, the SAMs and the anti-tank missiles, they’re giving us everything they’ve got.
Revolutionary 1: What?! So what part of “everything” did they send?
[Revolutionary 2 is about to reply when a tank shell bursts nearby, spewing out a strange mustard-coloured powder. Sound of fighters chocking, frothing, clutching at their throats, screams]
Revolutionary 1: Help! I’m hit! I can’t see! My throat’s on fire…the gasmasks, get the gasmasks…
Revolutionary 2: Sorry, seems like there’s been some confusion. They said “everything” but now I’ve gone back and double-checked and – the strangest thing – there’s “nothing” there.