Monday morning, Secretary of State John Kerry made what an administration official called a “major goof” with a never-going-to-happen hypothetical that suggested Syria could avoid American airstrikes by surrendering their chemical weapons. Even the State Department walked Kerry’s statement back. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov immediately seized upon Kerry’s flub, and now a member of the Russian parliament is gloating over Putin’s checkmate of Obama.
Watching one administration bungle after another unfurl, Alexi Pushkov , the chairman of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, is publicly mocking Obama. Via Twitter, Pushkov wrote that this mess “knocks the ground out from under Obama’s plans for a military strike.”
Kerry’s flub played right into the Russians hands; and by breaking weak, stepping back from his own red line, and embracing Kerry’s hypothetical proposal during a round-robin of network interviews Monday night, President Obama chose to repeat Kerry’s mistake. Russian President Vladmir Putin now looks like the world’s peacemaker and Syria can dig in and drag this out forever as the West tries to figure out how to secure and destroy a thousand tons of chemicals weapons without putting “boots on the ground” in the middle of a civil war.
The real win for Syria and Russia, though, is that when this diplomatic quagmire is all over, Assad remains in power. This, after Obama said he must go.
As I write this, Assad is already taking advantage of the Putin/Kerry monkey wrench. For the first time since the talk of America military action began, today Syria resumed its bombing attacks against the rebels.
From Obama’s off-script red line comment last year to Kerry’s off-script second red line yesterday, the only thing driving American foreign policy regarding Syria are administration blunders.