The PJ Tatler

So the Outcome in Syria Will Be What John Kerry Said 'Can't Be Done'?

In a mess of a day Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said one thing that was right. In his off-hand comment that has ended up turning bombing Syria over to the UN, Kerry said that Bashar al-Assad could avert military strikes by turning 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 it.”

That’s not the end of the quote. Kerry went on to say “But he isn’t going to do it, and it can’t be done, obviously.”

“It can’t be done, obviously.”

Isn’t Kerry obviously right that, in the middle of a civil war in which he faces multiple militias, Assad cannot turn over his entire chemical weapons stock and provide a “total accounting” for it? He doesn’t even control all of Syria anymore. The fighting continues. Isn’t it just as obvious that, in the middle of a civil war, the “international community” is in no position to inspect or verify much of anything in Syria? The “international community” is not a community, and can’t even figure out who’s who in Syria’s civil war. It’s not even a lock that Assad used chemical weapons on August 21. The rebels may have done it.

It’s all obvious to anyone who thinks primarily about security issues: The Russian-Syrian deal is unenforceable. By design.


But hardly anyone, and practically no one in the Washington political press, thinks primarily about security issues. The Washington political press thinks mostly about ways to heap praise on Obama. This one is easy for them: Obama threatened, Assad blinked. That’s not what has happened, but it’s easy to sell that way. The low-info voter thinks primarily about anything but politics and security issues.

The Washington political press will sell this deal as a good deal, a way to avoid “another Iraq.” The low-info voter will buy that, for the most part.

Tonight Obama will have climbed down from a false “Munich moment” to taking the first deal that comes along that gets him out of his mess. And he probably benefits in the polls from it.