Kerry Sets Out Peace Conditions And Then Changes His Mind When Syria Approves Them (Update)

The Boston Globe reports that John Kerry made a statement about what Assad could do to avoid an attack on his people:

“Secretary of State John F. Kerry issued a strong challenge here Monday to Syrian President Bashar Assad to turn over his chemical weapon stockpile to avoid a US-led attack. Asked whether Assad could do anything to avert military strikes, Kerry said, ‘Sure. He could turn 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 the full and total accounting for that. But he isn’t about to do it.’”

Well, yes he was—especially with the encouragement of his closest ally. As Reuter’s reported,

“Russia said on Monday it would urge Syria to put its chemical weapons arsenal under international control if this would avert military strikes. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who called a news conference to announce the proposal, said he had already conveyed the idea to Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem at talks in Moscow and that Russia expected ‘a quick and, I hope, a positive answer.’”

The positive answer didn’t take long:

“The Syrian Arab Republic welcomes the Russian initiative, motivated by the Syrian leadership’s concern for the lives of our citizens and the security of our country, and motivated by our confidence in the wisdom of the Russian leadership, which is attempting to prevent American aggression.”

The story reporting this answer says that, “it stopped short of saying explicitly that President Bashar al-Assad’s government accepted it.” But it leaves out that the State Department, in response to Russia’s attempt to avert war, had already rescinded Kerry’s words, claiming that he was merely making “a rhetorical argument.”

Let us take a moment to contemplate the sheer bloodlust and criminality of what Kerry is doing. We had, here, an opportunity for the executive branch to take away Assad’s power to use chemical weapons, to claim a huge victory, and to avoid an illegal war as Congress seems likely to vote against an attack on Syria. But rather than climb out of the hole, the State Department is so devoted to the prospect of shedding Syrian blood (to punish Syria for shedding Syrian blood!) that they have immediately shot down what could be a clear win for the Administration.

John Glaser says all this proves that the Obama White House wants war “no matter what.” But that really understates the perversity of what is going on. They not only want war, they prefer an illegal unconstitutional war to having an obvious way to avoid it and save face.

That is a level of commitment that I wish I could understand. Why is bombing Syria that much of a priority to Obama?

UPDATE:

Soon after I wrote this, the story changed abruptly. I think this editorial sums up the facts:

We are told a Kerry gaffe, an impressive display of Putin’s diplomatic jiu-jitsu, and – most of all – the “credible threat” of war led to what the Obamaites and their media cheerleaders are hailing as a great victory for this administration. A look at the timeline of events, however, effectively debunks the official narrative.

The key development here wasn’t Kerry’s fumble and the Russian interception but the announcement by majority leader Harry Reid that the Senate vote on the war resolution would be delayed: the War Party simply didn’t have the votes. What the administration discovered, to their horror, was that the more they made their case to the American people the less support they had: every time Kerry opened his mouth, their poll numbers went down a few points, and a few more members of Congress came out against intervention.

Reid didn’t decide to cancel the Senate vote due to Putin’s diplomatic deus ex machina: as important Democratic Senators defected to the peace camp hours before Reid’s announcement, panic set in. With calls against outnumbering those in favor by over 100-to-1, not even the legendary power of AIPAC could intimidate legislators into swimming against such a tide.

Kerry’s “gaffe” – which was in fact a curt dismissal of the possibility Assad would ever agree to hand over his chemical weapons – came later than the decision to cancel the Senate vote, although Reid’s announcement appeared to coincide with Putin’s proposal. Initially, you’ll recall, the State Department walked back the Kerry gaffe, saying he didn’t really mean it and never mind. It was Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) – who has led the antiwar opposition in the Senate in conjunction with progressive firebrand Alan Grayson in the House – who was first to say hey, the Putin peace deal is worth looking into.

The significant point here is that Obama and Kerry were going forward with war and were only forced to change plans by Congress and us.