Yesterday, we put up a post on the subject of who won and lost as a result of Obama being cornered into taking up a Russian proposal to destroy Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons rather than launch punitive attacks. A Beltway insider weighted in via e-mail with some pointed remarks:
It’s not clear what will happen with this Syria fiasco. It could mean wide-scale war, and it could mean a Syria free of chemical weapons and on the road to a peaceful resolution of the civil war. Obama has still claimed authority to do whatever he wants, so it’s too early to say that strikes on Syria are being ruled out. However, the President has been severely constrained, and a bombing that was a sure thing a week ago will now be delayed several weeks while Congress debates and Putin proposes peace overtures that sound eminently reasonable if you assume he isn’t operating in utter bad faith (a big assumption, but perhaps not a good one – Putin has his reasons for not wanting chemical weapons in Syria).
Domestically, this has been a bad three week stretch for the administration. It could change, and will, but right now, here’s where things seem to be playing out.
Mild loser: Obama
If he adopts the Putin peace plan, he doesn’t look that bad. His approvals have taken a hit, but he restores the Constitutional system, gets rid of Syrian chemical weapons, accidentally rejuvenates multilateralism, and can get his base back. Not too shabby, actually, as long as he learns to say Yes. Politically, it could be like the Bay of Pigs, without the fiasco. That hurt JFK politically, but not too badly. Obama could even use this as an opportunity to clean house within his administration, which he probably won’t. This could turn into a much uglier situation for the President, if he refuses to back down or learn from his mistakes.
Biggest Loser: John Kerry
It’s hard to describe what a clusterfuck John Kerry has been as Secretary of State. The Bush administration was terrible and sucked at nearly everything, but they knew how to roll out a war. Kerry has been a bumbling moron at PR, at intelligence, at diplomacy, and at Congressional relations. It seems like every time he opens his mouth he makes the case that the US doesn’t know what it is doing and it should stay out of Syria. And that’s not all – he’s also been publicly overruled by his boss. Most people in DC, after watching these past two weeks, are saying “thank God he was never President”. You can survive a lot in DC, but you can’t survive becoming a laughingstock. Obama doesn’t really have a lot of loyalty to Kerry, so he could be gone after the Syria situation settles down.
Other losers: Samantha Power, Susan Rice, liberal interventionists
The “I feel guilty for Rwanda” school of soft-headed true believers have been embarrassed over Syria. UN Ambassador Samantha Power was seen as dismissing the ability to do anything with diplomacy just before Putin sandbagged her and Kerry with a deal offering everything the US purportedly wants. It turns out the liberal interventionists are just as cowboy-like as the Bush crowd, but they somehow managed to seem dumber and more self-righteous about it.
This discussion raises the question: why does Kerry still have a job? He’s managed not just making Hillary Clinton look good, but also the astonishing feat of making Bush look attractive in retrospect. I’ve heard more than one remark along the lines of, “Wow, did we dodge a bullet in 2004.”
Now of course, the sensible might say, “Obama can’t fire Kerry now. He’s in the middle of a Big Deal!”
But as Clemenceau and later De Gaulle remarked, “The graveyards are full of indispensable men.” If Kerry dropped dead, the Administration would figure out a way, pronto, to keep Syria and other urgent matters on course. So the idea that Kerry couldn’t be replaced is misguided. From a managerial standpoint, it clearly could be done. The real issue is the cost versus the benefits.
On the negative side of the ledger, getting rid of Kerry now or anytime soon could increase the perception of an Administration in disarray. It would also increase focus on Syria, when given what a loser the war effort has become, Obama would probably prefer to direct media attention elsewhere.
But on the plus side, replacing Kerry would improve relations with Congress and likely with the rest of the world (it’s hard to imagine he has much credibility overseas). If handled well, it would also allow Obama to shift blame for Syria saber-rattling to Kerry and look like a tough-minded executive willing to make difficult decisions for the good of the cause.
And there are ways of firing Kerry without really firing him, the bureaucratic equivalent of the Japanese practice of putting unwanted workers in a room with nothing to do. Obama could signal a change in course without the disruption or controversy of jettisoning his failed Secretary of State by, say, putting a special envoy in charge of dealing with the UN on the Syrian chemical weapons disarmament program. Kerry would still be kept in the loop but would be treated as at most an advisor and occasional (and well scripted) spokesperson on this initiative.
But I suspect that nothing will change on the personnel front, and for the same reason that Obama never got rid of Geithner despite similar calls for his ouster. As with Geithner, Kerry looks to have been doing what Obama wanted. There has been a school that was trying to defend Obama’s plans to attack Syria as having been hoist on the petard of his “red line” remarks. Obama debunked that with his speech last night. The possibility of a diplomatic solution and his inability to get the voted to pass the AUMF each gave him a gracious and easy way to shift his stance. But Obama continued to sell war, now with the not-too-subtle subtext that those who weren’t with him were the moral equivalent of Nazi collaborators. This from the leader of nation that has recently used and still supplies other countries with chemical weapons.
So expect Kerry and the hawks to stay firmly in place. Obama’s failure to remove or shift responsibilities away from Kerry will hurt Obama, but sadly, it will likely damage a lot of people even more. Kerry’s heart is almost certainly not in the peace initiative, and even if it were, he lacks the skills and credibility to carry it forward even if he had a Damascene conversion. I’d love to be proven wrong, but Kerry is shaping up to be the man to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
There’s a bit that I keep scratching my head about: just exactly and precisely WHY is it so much better to die being ripped to bits by a drone or bullet versus choking to death on gas? How much deader are you, really? Is there a “time-to-death” quotient? Is there an “ease-of-killing” quotient?
And as you say extreme dumbness combined with extreme self-righteousness is a very unattractive combination. I remember when we had a REAL Left, one that knew that MORE WAR was never the answer.
Wasn’t it the Democrats (JFK) who got us embroiled in Vietnam?
No, it was John Foster Dulles, under Eisenhower, and the extreme right wing of the Republican Party who were looking for people to blame for “losing” China (as if it was ever ours to begin with). A good description of that whole sorry mess is David Halberstom’s The Best And The Brightest. He didn’t have all the details of how Johnson faked the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, or the U.S. project infiltrating South Vietnamese agents into North Vietnam, but he had much of the story of how the State Department under Truman (Dean Acheson) and then the Dulles Brothers, Alan and John Foster, controlled the policy. Ganted, Dean Rusk persisted in the policy because he was a right-wing nutjob too, but the problem was basically overzealous anti-Communism.
For the record, Lyndon Baines Johnson was also involved. The Vietnam disaster was a bi-partisan effort.
Early in his tenure JFK did ratchet up the US commitment in Vietnam, but grudgingly and not nearly as soon and as much as most of his senior advisers wanted. However information that has come out in recent years (e.g. the declassification of NSAM 263, which called for a winding-down of US troop levels there beginning with the exodus of 1,000 soldiers by the end of 1963) suggest that he was determined to avoid a large-scale commitment on the ground there. Several books have come out in recent years that make plausible cases that this change of heart was a factor in his assassination, such as JFK and the Unspeakable, by James Douglass. (http://amzn.to/10yGTiI) One of Lyndon Johnson’s first acts as President was to cancel that NSAM.
It is easy with hindsight to sanctify a dead president and speculate what he would have done.
The facts that we know are that Kennedy’s two appointees, Rusk and McNamara, remained under Lyndon Johnson, and promoted escalation despite misgivings by all involved parties, including Lyndon Johnson, and moreover, because they believed it would have been political suicide to do anything else.
Johnson gets all of the flack from those who idolize Kennedy, yet Johnson was much more experienced and much tougher than Kennedy. He put through the civil rights legislation that Kennedy could likely never have put through. If Johnson was politically too timid to back out of Vietnam, Kennedy certainly would also have been.
What of here and now?
We have a monstrosity called the Patriot Act that is destroying our civil liberties, costs us hundreds of billions, and has little or no proven value for public safety. Yet because we the people are too craven to get rid of the d—-d thing, because we the people would crucify our leaders if they did get rid of it and some disaster happened, even if it could be proved that abolishing the Act had nothing to do with that disaster,
then our politicians will contiue to be as cowardly as we.
We actually do get what we ask for.
I’m sad to say it, but hear, hear.
Kennedy likely wanted to scale Vietnam back but was, as usual, in a constant mini-war with his Dr. Strangelove-like gaggle of crazy generals and an out-of control CIA which has screwed him every which way. He fired Dulles and growled about eliminating the CIA. Anyway some say he signed the order to
Vietnam was, like Iraq, an enormous boondogle for contractors and a factory for promotion for military officers and ambitious men in the State Department and CIA.
It was a bipartisan effort, not D v R, but hawks v doves. The hawks being internationalists, NATO devotees, and uber-capitalists who feared even the mention of communism or socialism. And, imo, it took the assassination of JFK to achieve it. Back then we didn’t have all the creative finance we now have.
Yes, hawks vs doves, and as nearly always the hawks had the momentum and stronger backing. look what a roasting the elder Romney got when he changed position.
actually Democrats got us into WW1…… Democrats got us into WW2, and Republicans (Eisenhower, Patton, Nimitz & MacArthur) got us out……. Democrats got us into Korea…… Democrats got us into Vietnam, and Republicans got us out.
A German philosopher said that with the discovery of gun powder war had become somewhat abstract. The warrior was not fighting another warrior but merely exposed to deadly bullets.
Gases are the extremity of this development, people die just through breathing, the atmosphere has become death. And we can’t tolerate that development, our science has become our death.
There is something primeval, dark, about this fear but it is there.
Don’t know how much this philosopher fought, but modern conventional warfare offers plenty of opportunities for hating the enemy, as memoirs like E. B. Sledge’s demonstrate amply.
Because the killing potential of chemical weapons is much greater than regular ones. They’re catagorized as WMDs, along with nuclear and biological munitions. A single chemical warhead dropped in a crowded city has the potential to kill far more people than a single HE shell, no matter how large.
Plenty of people have observed that we didn’t seem to care about the 100,000 dead Syrians but all of a sudden are make an uproar over these specific 1000+ dead. But that’s 100,000 over the course of two years, this is a hundredth of that total in a single day. It’s not really about this specific incident but rather that if it goes unpunished it could set a precident that the international community isn’t actually prepared to back up its vows of ‘never again’ with force (not that it has ever showed any inclination to do so) and this could lead to future chemical attacks, Syrian or otherwise, and many more dead bodies.
I’m not saying we should attack; the entire situation is a mess, we aren’t even sure who used the weapons or who ordered the attacks. In the end the Russian diplomatic solution will still send a message that the use of these things is unacceptable. You use these toys and the international community will take them away from you, if nothing else.
But I’m getting rather tired of the downplaying of how bad these things are. I’m also weary of all the pointing out of US hypocrisy, as if the actions of past administrators somehow automatically negates any talk of ethics from the current leadership. I’m under no illusion that this attack is being proposed entirely (or even mostly) on moral grounds, nor am I blind to the gross abuses of Obama on other issues such as the use of drones. But I also think that things like an internationally enforced ban on WMDs are actually noble and worth fighting for, and even if that ban is only enforced occasionally, hypocritically and more for self-serving profiteering than principle it’s still better than nothing.
Would that we lived in a world where the UN security council actually worked and countries would put aside petty political scheming and unite to put their foot down and say “No.” to acts of genocide and human rights abuses…
You would have to separate the enforcement of the ban from the advancement of the imperial aims of any of the enforcers. In the case of the U.N., the veto power seems to be accomplishing just that. As long as the U.S. pushes imperial interests, as it has been doing in Syria, Russia and China will try to veto its moves. A genuine interest in eliminating the use of chemical weapons (which does not appear to exist, but if it did) would require a new mechanism which did not favor some of the great powers at the expense of others.
The Syria fiasco may be solved by Assad. It will not end the war that is also tribal/ethnic. On that count Kerry can sail into the sunset with the country feeling no pain.
The Israeli/Palestinian peace talks initiated by Kerry are in bad shape due to Kerry’s incompetence. The agreement to avoid leaks was totally broken by a daily targeted leak by the Palestinians. They are making fun of Kerry. They read him easily. Both sides are under internal pressure not to reach an agreement. Kerry doesn’t have the smarts needed to keep the kids from fighting. Neither side needs another failure to achieve some kind of peace.
I am not sure why, but every Administration makes periodic attempts to restart Israeli/Palestinian peace talks. It’s either that or golf, I suppose. They are always in bad shape, and they always fail. This is completed to be expected. The Two State formula is always the basis for the effort, despite the fact that the last nail was driven in its coffin 18 years ago by the assassination of Rabin.
I have been saying the same thing. Once Clinton decided not to force the Israelis to stop settlements in the Occupied Territories the inevitable result of Greater Israel and eventual annexation of those territories was a foregone conclusion. There is as much possibility of any reasonable negotiated settlement there as keeping the tide from coming in. It annoys me that the mainstream media actually reports about some new “peace initiative” because there is no such thing and can be no such thing. You can’t negotiate from a position of weakness and the Palestinians have nothing and Israel is still the dominant military power in the region and has 110% support for anything it wants to do in Congress.
Thus indicating that oft-repeated peace talks are just a way of stalling for time while Israel builds more settlements and grabs more land.
Lebensraum, comrades. Eretz Israel needs it!
I see this the other way around. The one flailing about is Obama. Kerry is neocon and a fool, but so what if he has been unable to keep up with Obama’s zigs and zags, who in Washington or the rest of the world for that matter has? From where I’m sitting Kerry’s gaffe did Obama an unintentional favor. It gave him an excuse to postpone a vote in the Congress he was going to lose. And it gives him another chance to find a legal justification for an attack on Syria either through twisting any UN resolution that might come out into one or by using this detour to make a fresh case to Congress for an authorization (which he also twist into a justification for war).
And seriously, if being a bumbling, bumptious blowhard was a bar to office in Washington, the place would be a ghost town.
I’m told Kerry has zero cred with Congress. Given that Congress is showing some spine, having a modicum of competence is now a job requirement. And what I’m hearing is that the war rollout is the most amateurish thing anyone in the Beltway can recall, and this was on an Administration top priority.
You can be a bumptious blowhard if you have your own constituency. In fact, it can be a plus in some districts. Being a bumptious blowhard in a Cabinet post is a completely different proposition. It reflects badly on the boss.
I’ve observed many as well. This one had an ad hoc quality to it which tells that the President and his advisers have been wavering on this matter. Clearly, the administration is not unified here–I don’t think it is incompetence that has appeared to make this thing look bad though that plays a role.
The sad thing for the War Party is that they’ve left so many people out to dry, particularly the PR community, various commentators and “reporters” for cable and elsewhere who were hysterically banging the drum for war as programmed.
i’m not sure i would characterize it as “showing spine”. i think most republican legislators, and most republican voters, would support an attack on syria if launched by a (white) republican president. i just see it as a continuation of the reflexice oppostion to anything obama does. as for kerry being worse than bush, i can’t see that–for all the flailing about in marketing this edsel, it doesn’t compare to the utter, appalling fiasco of invading iraq. i will grant that the bush administration was better at marketing, but then it had the benefit of the republican noise machine.
i’m not sure i would characterize it as “showing spine”.
Correct, DC is an invertebrate colony. Obama’s (lack of a)Syria war plan is an obvious train wreck and no one wants to go for that ride w/o cover. They may be spineless, but they are also sufficiently self serving to be elected. Bomb what exactly? to what end? Obama tried to sell this as diminishingly scope “precise” bombing thinking this lowers the entrance barrier to war. Any idiot knows this has gone from at best an ineffective military action to the face saving act of a narcissist POTUS.
The backstory I am surprised no one has critiqued is this notion that the POTUS defining “a red line” puts us on rails to an act of war by definition. This means our “representatives” have learned nothing since the Bush era of profound autism when it comes to reevaluating circumstances with new information. Is a “red line” any less effective if the counter-party doesn’t know for sure and you achieve what should be the objective * nonviolently? I think not.
(*in this case removing CW from play, well, at least from Assad, not the insurgent factions)
Why does Kerry still have a job?
Obama’s M.O. is the Monty Python Black Knight, never ever admit mistake(Bush rev 3.0 in this respect). If the Syrian proposal has legs the spin machine goes into hyper-drive framing the proposal as BHO’s silent alt. agenda. Forcing a Kerry resignation anywhere within a couple pages on this script is a huge admission of incompetence by BHO. He may privatly hate Kerry for this and bench him as much as possible, but I expect BHO to cover for him externally ’til Kerry can fade away like Cheshire kat after some/any fabricated diplomatic victory w/ anything..
Rice and Powers? A couple shrill soccer moms obviously in way past their professional depth.
The beltway insider may be too far up the beltway if he/she thinks this make Hillary “look good”, it makes her look like the Pit Viper she is.
The thing that most struck me was that not only was there no real argument for why missile strikes would help, but the administration didn’t seem to think they even needed one.
The basic premise was that since Obama made the red line comment and Syria defied him, not following up on the threat would make the US look weak (or at least make Obama look weak, which in the mind of the administration amounts to the same thing). This requires you to accept the administration’s view of Assad as a dangerous madman held in check only by fear of the righteous wrath of Obama, Top Cop of the world police. If Assad decides to test Obama, then a swift and forceful response is the only thing stopping him from going into full-on Dr. Evil mode and causing every volcano in the world to erupt sarin gas simultaneously. (Shades of Bush here and his concept of the importance of “resolve”).
I don’t think Democrats in Congress at least are necessarily opposed to this kind of thinking, but they have to be able to sell it to their constituents, and I’m sure many remember how a vote for the Iraq resolution came back to bite them. They’re quite well aware that the Dr. Evil scenario isn’t credible as far as voters are concerned.
Edsel! That easily tops Dogberry.
Pretzelattack, I think I misread your reference to “edsel.” You meant the Syrian affair rather than Kerry? In any event, I think edsel bears a terrific family resemblance to Kerry especially in its face, sorry, grille.
Huh? Please go look at the whip counts, which are available all over the web (FDL, Bloomberg).
Obama has LESS THAN 10% support for the war in the House and less than 40 votes in a Democrat-controlled Senate. Obama was whipping this PERSONALLY (as in making calls to Congresscritters) and his own party revolted. He’s never lost a vote on something he’s whipped personally, ever. This was a huge and embarrassing defeat in the making.
You also forget the Republican rank and file bucked the leadership. Boehner supported the AUMF, remember???
Please go look at what actually happened rather than operate from your existing prejudices.
Even the dragon lady and hawk Diane Feinstein said in the Senate debates that she supported pursuing diplomacy. When Obama can’t get DiFi to back going to war, you are in deep shit.
“He’s [Obama] never lost a vote on something he’s whipped personally, ever.”
Didn’t Obama personally whip for Gun Control in the wake of the Newton Massacre? That was more embarassing to the nation in general and the Republicans than to Obama, but I think he did fail to deliver something he whipped for in the past. Dem Sens. Pryor, Begich, Heitkamp and Baucus came out against gun control.
Though, I agree him seeing the Dems in the House publicly turn is a big deal. Hopefully they’ll keep standing up to him.
No, and it was obvious Obama was just going through the motions to placate his base. In his speeches, the big tell was he kept calling it “gun control.” No Orwellian rebranding. If he had been remotely serious, he would have packaged it as something different: “prudent rules on military weapons” is too long, but closer to the spirt of what he’d been selling.
I’m aligned closely with Hugh here. Kerry’s big mistake was carrying the water for Obama on this one and being too dutiful a soldier and neocon. To me, the administration was dead set on bombing, and Kerry pushed the case way too hard with a poisonous mix of iffy intelligence, histrionic statements, and blue blood camera ready gravitas.
When Obama started zigging and zagging back towards Congress because of bad polling, Kerry was left hanging because he pushed too hard for his boss and whoever else controls foreign policy.
Kerry is still an idiot for being the main “war pusher” and didn’t think this one through. It’s surprising to me that someone can get this high in a large organization (Dem Party) and not have some better survival skills and a little more self-vigilance.
Please reread the comment from the insider. This wasn’t Kerry being put in a difficult position by Obama. Kerry did a piss poor job of selling the war. No one in DC can recall such a terrible, incompetent rollout of a major initiative. And Kerry was VISIBLY overruled by Obama. He kept trying to push the war option after the Russian gambit and it was Obama. on TV, who said the reverse, he was willing to pursue it.
So the evidence is 1. Kerry is a total fuckup and 2. Is operating independent of Obama in a bad way.
All Kerry has to say to ANY question is: “we are studying range of options for…”
the lunch menu;
when to go to the bathroom;
AN Israeli Palestinian accord.
And he couldn’t even stay on plan w this easy duck
I think now that the Nobel Peace Prize has been completely devalued, it’s fitting end will be Putin/Kerry if things quixotically fall in place.
“I remember when we had a REAL Left, one that knew that MORE WAR was never the answer.”
The only one to have persistently and clearly talked against war these last couples of years is Ron Paul.
Like it or not, Ron Paul has been the only US voice with a clear, constant and vocal language on the subject that I could hear from Paris. Not a voice on the Democratic side we could hear (yep we do not specialize in US politics here).
PS: do not get me started on our local gallic version of “liberals” (sic) à la Hollande and others… Right or left they all are on the war path.
The French and the Brits have a zeal right now that a relative few in the US have. Samantha Power and John Bolton could only dream of a Hollande or a Cameron to plead to.
Also, overseas engagements seem to be another price you pay for leaders with no will or imagination to solve domestic problems.
Cameron respected the vote of Parliament. Obama already said he doesn’t have to listen to Congress. Don’t feel too sorry for Power or Bolton yet.
Cameron respected the will of Parliament because he was smart enough to recognize an out when he saw it.
Cameron knew he would never get authorisation from the Commons to attack Syria, and if he’d pushed for, and then lost a vote, or if he’d gone ahead anyway (as he has the power to do), his backside would be toast.
It’s not so much about respecting the vote, rather it’s about his political survival.
Cameron may have the “Royal Perogative” as a way to launch a strike, and the House of Commons isn’t going to meet for Cameron to be briefed on terrorists launching an attack on Gibraltar for probably a day.
If Cameron were to move, his government would fall. Tories were upset, and the LibDems received much of their support for their anti-Iraq war stance among certain prominent members and former members when Labour wouldn’t move against Tony Blair. If Cameron’s government falls today, he has no chance of winning in the future or even maintaining leadership of the Tories.
Things work differently when a vote of no confidence can bring down the government.
There were those of us on the left who were calling for a Paul/Kucinich third party in ’08. I knew who Obama was after I saw him interviewed on Charlie Rose—he was and is a bloviator of the first order–but his bloviating was so well-delivered people were seeing that as brilliance–in fact if you just grasped the words he was saying he was completely full of sh!t.
The only possibility we have to avoid a authoritarian state is to ally with the libertarian right–the left even the radical left has abandoned the field and has been running in disarray since the routing of Occupy.
Grayson got a long interview in WaPo and an Op-Ed in the times against war with Syria. And he was out on front on the issue before it was cool. So Paul isn’t the only voice, though I grant Paul has been right on this issue longer.
I like Grayson because he has courage and he throws his elbows around when he gets a rebound. But he still echoes the media/gov’t story that Assad indisputably used CW which has not been established and which Ron Paul, in contrast, believes was a false-flag event–Pat Buchanan also came to that conclusion. But then again Grayson is in Congress and has to play within the rules so I don’t mind that he plays a serious game the only way it can be played.
Grayson has been skeptical of the intelligence from the outset. He even questioned the veracity of the intercepts Kerry was fronting to implicate Assad. I think he even referred to the German intelligence reports in a House hearing that flatly contradicted the adminstartions. He also complained vociferously that congressional members are constrained in their abilty to question and discuss the particulars of the classified intelligence they are given access to view. The culture on the Hill essentially demands that if a member gets security clearance to view materials and wants to maintain said privledge, they damn well better rubber stamp the conclusions fed to them. Grayson publicly called bullshit on that practice.
I don’t deny that false flag operations have existed in the past; the Gulf of Tonkin springs to mind (I remember reading the hearings on it when I was in high school, granted some years after the event itself). However, false flag operations are hard to disprove; I think we all could be a little more wary about making that call, purely on the pragmatic ground that if we stay evidence based, it’s better.
I agree, not least because embattled, paranoid, defensive regimes make decisions that appear totally illogical and contradictory to outsiders.
But having said that, there’s still a heck of lot of questions that need answering.
John Kerry drank the plutocratic Kool-Aid in 1995 when he married into Heinz money….if not before….he gives new meaning to the term hypocrite.
Maybe Obama keeps hypocritical douchebags like Kerry around so he doesn’t smell so bad, relatively speaking…..another reason why Obama wants to appoint the estinkable Larry Summers.
Wasn’t he from money anyway? For me it’s less ‘why does Kerry still have a job?’ than ‘why does he even bother doing the job?’ Whether he does poorly or well, he doesn’t need to do it, had he just sat tight and retired he’d have been vaguely remembered as a nice-ish guy who was Bush roadkill. Now I am weondering if the Swift Boating wasn’t some sort of Skull and Bones charade he gleefully took part in.
People with money still crave endless adulation and the position of authority that forces others to defer to them. That’s Kerry’s priority in life. All else is a way distant afterthought.
Yes; his mother came from the Forbes family. His father was a career foreign service officer. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_kerry)
Most of the money he enjoys came from the heiresses he has married
Heard recently that Kerry only did the anti war charade because that was the way the wind was blowing.
He didn’t just tell about war crimes, he was part of them.
“…Kerry only did the anti war charade because that was the way the wind was blowing.”
My thoughts exactly. What most people would consider shocking duplicity is quite commonplace in the world of politics.
I worked at MontPIRG (a Nader org.) in college with a guy who, after graduating, became the chair of the state Republican party. I was shocked, at first, seeing as how this guy was the quintessential liberal when we worked together. Upon reflection, however, it made perfect sense: if you want power, be a liberal while attending the liberal arts college and a conservative when you move up to state politics (in our basically conservative state). From the point of view of a power-monger, this type of duplicity makes perfect sense.
As FZ would say, “any way the wind blows is just fine with me.”
Kerry is Skull and Bones through and through and that’s all you need to know about him. In ’04 Ohio was stolen right out in the open and Kerry refused to question it. But even before that I was convinced then that Kerry took a dive–there was no other explanation for the ineptness of that campaign.
American don’t understand though there’s a glimmer of understanding that Washington and the politics of the major parties is the most corrupt it has ever been probably in history.
When you jerk off in a coffin with the sons of the elite, they’ll always have your back.
Or so young John was told.
‘It seems like every time [Kerry] opens his mouth he makes the case that the US doesn’t know what it is doing and it should stay out of Syria.’ My sentiments exactly.
Tres LOL dude….
Hence John Edwards’ anger at not fighting the Ohio vote. He was shocked when Kerry caved.
Just found this tidbit, perusing the Skull & Bones wikipedia entry:
Can’t be much more conspicuous than testifying in front of Congress…just sayin’…
Kerry hasn’t been booted out of the State Department for his stunning degree of incompetence largely because he’s one of the VERY privileged and was raised on the narrow tracks of old money. Marrying a billionaire heiress to a Ketchup Empire also helps a lot too.
The only reason he protested the Vietnam War was because that was the cool, intellectual thing to do back then. He was groomed to be a leader, but is only able to lead the 1% — that’s just who he is, born with a silver spoon, educated at St. Paul’s School and then Skull and Bones Yale. Listen to the way he speaks to Congress when he was a “protester” — that says it all, his allegiance is only to the power elite.
Kerry and his fake Boston Brahmin accent are as genuine as his cultivated image of old family wealth. I think comfortable upbringing by most standards, mother with some pedigree but not the equity.
Married into old condiment money, very exclusive lol… Any port in a storm.
If you remember, it was Kerry that gave Obama the opportunity to be the keynote speaker at the Democratic convention for the 2004 presidential run. The appearance at the Democratic convention is credited with giving Obama the entrance into presidential politics and subsequently winning the nomination in 2008.
I can only imagine Kerry has a special rapport behind closed doors with your usual head of state, or chief diplomat. “Well bred”, often Western educated. Maybe they were on the same rugby team at Yale? Maybe he gets called Long Devil by the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Uzbekistan?
I love WP, I love WP, I love WP for eating my comment.
John Kerry drank the plutocratic Kool Aid in 1995 when he married int the Heinz money, if not before. He gives new meaning to the term hypocrite.
Obama will keep the hypocritical douchebag Kerry around to make himself not smell so bad. It is the same reason Obama wants the estinkable Larry Summer at the Fed…….think of the mushrooms these folks could grow.
So when I reloaded the comments after losing the comment that is not lost the system showed no comments again……oh well….sorry for the double post.
You need to be patient and wait 2 minutes. It may take that long for a comment to appear.
We’d changed how we do caching, in part to improve site loading speeds, which would have led to really slow loading or even pages hanging due to other measures we’ve had to implement to fight spammers (this is a war of its own and they keep breaking through the stuff designed to thwart them). So I’m sorry for the hassle but this is the best compromise we can come up with.
Thanks for the reply and perspective on your WP instance.
I can’t spell pashunche but will attempt to practice some.
I am a regular reader but hardly ever post here, but feel compelled as this article has left me scratching my head.
“It seems like every time [Kerry] opens his mouth he makes the case that the US … should stay out of Syria”
How on earth does that make him a “hawk” then? Give the man a peace prize and promote him to the top job – he may of just tactfully got us off the hook for a war that would have cost countless civilian lives plus helped broker a deal to get chem weapons out of Syria?
The “Beltway insider” source sounds like they are are upset that if we have a peaceful resolution to Syria then the “biggest loser” here could only be the Military Industrial Complex, cheated out of the war they wanted – human cost be damned we have a crisis and budget cuts to contend with.
Perhaps that is the problem and the real reason behind all this anti-Kerry angst, he has put the war plans in jeopardy?
Please – what am I missing?
Nothing. You are absolutely right. But it wasn’t really his doing, unfortunately. They just bumbled around and screwed up so badly that, even with the machine already counting its money, those aligned against war were able to make a plan and execute it.
Remember the ongoing discussion about Obama’s motives: is he really this incompetent, or is he a Republican in disguise? I’d say that this entire fiasco has been interesting fodder for that discussion.
Yes! I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who found this the statements and tone in this one to be a headsthumper!
You are 180 degrees wrong. The “Beltway insider” has been a major working oar on getting the war stopped.
I trust that what you say and I tried to re-read the article with this in mind, but I still am not understanding the language and tone. It really does read like the Beltway insider is upset that through Kerry’s “bumbling” he may have prevented a war. How else to interpret “[Bush Administration] knew how to roll out a war. Kerry has been a bumbling moron at PR, at intelligence, at diplomacy, and at Congressional relations.” (and so does not know, or does not want to roll out a war). Also related to my post below in this thread – Actions speak louder than words.
It’s a joke. While Kerry continually speaks for war, his tendency to run off at the mouth and poor communications have been having the opposite effect, by making many of us feel he and the Administration have no idea what they’re doing.
If I have learn’t anything about politics, it is that you have no choice but to judge a politician by what their actions are – not what they say. No more hope for change speeches thanks. Kerry may have to continually speak for war to even be in that job, given that all states are beholden to the war machine – elect an anti-war politician then that state/area loses precious jobs and the voters “error” is corrected at the next election.
“Kerry tendency to run off at the mouth and poor communications have been having the opposite effect” = No War. Perhaps that is his goal? Again judge a politician by their actions. I am no Kerry fan but if he got us out of a war through “poor communications” then maybe some benefit of the doubt could be applied.
The DoD may be getting worried. Its one thing to keep whistleblowers in line with the threat of a job loss, but if government doesn’t come in, many potential whistleblowers will no longer have to fear losing their jobs because they won’t have one. At which point, what do they do? People in the Washington-metro area have huge mortgages. Book deal? Ollie North took the blame for Iran-Contra for a sweet radio deal, but there aren’t enough radio shows out there to pay off everyone.
Kirsten Gillenbrand offered up a reasonable reform of how to report sexual assault in the military. It would still go no where, but at least there would be a record and would remove the the threat of people not reporting for fear of promotions. Carl Levin just shot down the proposal. Why? It would be simple and would look like something was being done. The answer is they wouldn’t be able to ignore the aggregate crime if a single outfit collected every complaint.
The place has been so corrupt for so long the dam is starting to break. They couldn’t even find an excuse to film war porn in Syria.
“it would also allow Obama to shift blame for Syria saber-rattling to Kerry”
This. I’d fully expect this from a competent politician. A competent politician is one that has a modicum of touch with the real world, at least enough to know it exists. The more I see of this from across the pond, the more it comes to me that Obama lives in his own bubble that is pretty much confined to the walls of WH – and he takes it with him wherever he goes.
I suggest to the American public to lobby Congress to institute an office of a presidential jester, whose sole responsibility would be to drag the incumbent to a real world now and then. The detachement from facts (to be honest, not only in US, but US has the most impact on RotW) seems to be a major problem in the recent years..
My impression of Obama is that he is not in a bubble exactly–he does know what is going on and is very aware of the public. In Washington, the public is something you manipulate not something you genuinely consider. The view there is that the public is made up of idiots who are standing around waiting to be manipulated–it’s been so easy they are suffering from hubris. Now the public appears to be dragging its feet–they’ve heard the X = Hitler or is a madman or a butcher or “must be stopped” or whatever so many times they aren’t really listening. Even the Boston incident did not galvanize the country and 9-11 has been forgotten.
The American public is turning sullen and nihilistic at least about national politics. People have finally grasped the central fact that they are being manipulated and lied to consistently by all political actors. We are turning inward because there is no logical choice–at some point people get that they’re being duped even if they don’t know the particulars. This crisis shows the effect of that sea-change. Traditional left-right politics no longer fit either. We may be facing a truly revolutionary time in the U.S. I didn’t expect it, by the way, to come so soon.
Unfortunately, 9/11 is alive and well in our public school system. I’m in Louisiana and both 8 & 10 year old kids came home today with reports due on the tragedy.
“This from the leader of nation that has recently used and still supplies other countries with chemical weapons.”
Someone in the White House PR department apparently thinks:
1. the public doesn’t know about the 3-headed kids being born in Iraq from US depleted uranium bombs, etc
2. the public isn’t able to reflect on empirical historical evidence enough to infer the tenuous claim of “no boots on the ground” in the uncertain chaos of violent war
This is more of “the arrogance school” of the sort Bill Black was talking about the other day with respect to Summers.
Sure most of the public may prefer its amusements to listening to foreign affairs. But surely there are enough veterans in the social pool now after 15 years of non-stop war that every town has more direct information about these things, without the need to read about them.
I wonder if the public is so ignorant as the administration appears to presume.
The public may not have time to know the particulars but they are now able to smell the rot emanating from Washington. It is, as I’ve said, the most corrupt it has ever been and I saw it happen bit by bit sometimes from a distance and sometimes pretty close up.
The public’s skepticism on the war comes despite the mainstream media’s Mighty Wurlitzer in full dudgeon and power and still they are not moved–this is almost a revolutionary development that I believe has Washington in a panic, particularly the mainstream media which is bleating to this day about the madman in Syria–but if you watch the Charlie Rose interview (a f!cking courageous thing to do) you see a reasonable man with body language that tells us he’s not being that deceptive (unlike Kerry whose body language screams “lie”). Just to be sure here I think Assad is a brutal dictator like his father–but that’s normal politics–certainly American officials can’t claim much moral superiority considering history.
The pro-war propaganda machine began in the years before WWI, when Woodrow Wilson decided to sway a nation that still remembered the Civil War, and was populated by immigrants fleeing European conscription, into breaching our traditional neutrality.
The Cold War was ‘hearts and minds’ more than real military confrontation. Those of us who grew up on ‘boys with toys against the commies’ stories have a lifetime’s experience to wash away that gloss.
And, if my kids and their friends are an indication, the MIC has lost an entire generation. Cynicism about 9/11, perception of obvious racism in the WOT, and the obvious wreck and chaos that’s been won by all the killing means the Bushie strophes Barry’s using sound far different than when they were first repeated without end.
The administration began with the benefit of the doubt, mostly for optic reasons but with the normal hope for the new. Dress it up as you will, more of the same is more of the same.
The Cold War was real enough–“anti-Communism” as an excuse to preserve a stable and positive investment environment throughout the world by destroying, by any means necessary, every third-world attempt at mass education, organization of labor, use of a country’s natural resources for the benefit of its own population.
It wasn’t so much that any one of these attempts would have, on its own, been so damaging to the interests of capital–what interests were directly at stake in Grenada, for example–as that if any attempt were ever allowed to proceed unpunished somebody that actually mattered might take up the idea.
If you ever have a chance read some of the PNAC documents that came out of the 90s and early 00s. Stunning stuff.
My take is American wars are fought for the two reasons: 1) profit for contractors and promotions for the martinets; and 2) scaring the beezesus out of progressives around the world.
Frankly, I’m surprised that the American public turned out to be as anti-war as it did.
Admittedly the WH PR effort was laughable, but with the Obots and the calls to support Obama “because the bad, bad Republicans are against him, and it will make him look weak if the loses,” I’m surprised the polls were as lopsided as they were.
I don’t chalk that up to sudden intelligence and reading of good sources.
Then economics? Would selling a war maybe have suceeded if the economy wasn’t in such bad shape? If you have to ask the cost of a war, you can’t afford it. If people can’t get good jobs or often any jobs, don’t get raises, 1 in 5 children go hungry, people are up to their eyeballs in debt, another dumb war in the middle east as a government spending priority. Why?
Judging by appearances, that already happened a while back.
As for why he still has a job, that’s an easy one. He’s a piece of shit, that’s why.
“Kerry has been a bumbling moron at PR, at intelligence, at diplomacy, and at Congressional relations.”
I guess this means he wouldn’t make a very good living selling used cars. Seriously, I’ve been wondering if he isn’t unintentionally (?) sabotaging this effort. I felt there was something about Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN that made it clear it was BS, probably because he didn’t believe it himself. That leads me to remember, “Sincerity is the key. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”
It’s called sociopathy, and recent research with MRIs shows that the areas of sociopaths’ brains associated with empathy simply don’t fire when confronted with the sorts of stimuli that in normal people trigger this emotion. Furthermore these studies show that about 4% of the population consists of these hardwired (or is it unwired?) sociopaths. See The Sociopath Next Door, by Martha Stout. (http://amzn.to/17VMEax)
I’m always very conscious of body language. I like to watch speeches of pols with the sound off to observe what they are actually saying. Kerry clearly was not in accord with himself indicating he was lying–he was stiff and his head was overly tilted in a way that indicated he was trying too hard and was appealing to our sympathy.
I thought he was tired.
They could also be poorly rehearsed.
Much of the work of acting students is physical, aligning the body’s posture and motions to the emotion of the line of the script. He’s reading the script, trying to do the motion to reinforce the words (hand on heart when he says, ‘we’, that sort of thing) but since both are false, the movements reinforce the falsity.
And of course, he’s aware he’s lying, so that would make the internal tension worse, which translates to greater awkwardness.
Okay, it’s 4:30ish AM here and maybe that’s why I’m struggling with the above post, but, really, what’s it about? I get the question, “Why does Kerry have a job?” but, the rest of it, man… I think your beltway insider is a tool, which goes without saying, as any beltway insider is by definition a tool. Seriously, read the mild loser section again and try not to giggle. Obama, if he accepts the peace proposal, “restores the Constitutional system.” Really? Really? Really? I could just keep typing Really? Over and over and over again. Or cut and paste it. Repeatedly.
In the face of the continued NSA leaks you’re insider actually wrote Obama’s peace deal in and of itself “restores the Constitutional system?” If Obama accepts the peace deal I’m supposed to believe Obama gives a damn about the Constitution now, and just didn’t get his ass kicked politically because he’s, well, less a lame duck and more a floating turd sitting in a broken toilet, waiting to be flushed? (Our future Presidential Candidates are part of the broken toilet. Clinton’s on deck, and following her in the lineup are Biden, Corey Booker, Cruz, Scott Brown, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie. A real murderer’s row of competence.) Your insider also mentions that Obama could take this opportunity to “clean house.” I’ve moved beyond laughter to tears now. Somebody still thinks that the crack team of screw-ups, retreads and misfits Obama has assembled is not the team Obama wants. Wait. Your man in the know is correct. Perhaps Obama would clean house so he can bring back Rahm Emmanuel,, whom he seemed to not want to leave, Peter Orszag, as well as bring in Good Ol’ Boy Larry Summers. Heck, maybe if he fired Geithner instead of letting him resign he’d be more willing to be rehired. Timmy-boy does seem to be a glutton for punishment. Yep. Cleaning house would sure help out a great deal. Ooh! I know! Maybe he can dump Kerry and do his 12-Dimensional Chess/Triangulating-Thing-A-Mah-Jig, reach across the aisle and make Colin Powell our new Secretary of State! Then we’d have a guy with experience successfully lying about military matters for political reasons. Really, who would Obama, Actual Obama, the neo-liberal, increasingly hawkish, blue-dog President, not Fantasy Obama, the Sane, Smart, Liberal with a Conscious who stood up to Bush, bring in to his administration that would be an improvement over the current lot of imbeciles?
Also, the “Thank God Kerry was never President” bit makes me, well, angry. I hope Washington is one of those cities that will disappear due to climate change. Kerry wasn’t my first choice in that campaign either, but the idea that the people in the beltway think Kerry would have been a worse President than Bush, The Actual Worst President, means Washington is lost. Absolutely lost. It’s replaced our future Presidential candidates in the aforementioned floating turd/broken toilet metaphor. We dodged one helluva bullet letting an idiot and an evil cyborg remain in control of the country. My father was in Vietnam. He loved Kerry. Kerry was his first choice. All of my father’s friends from Vietnam, many of whom are ardent Democrats, had the utmost respect for Kerry, who, as user “psychohistorian” pointed out, is a plutocrat (Kerry was actually born with a silver spoon, he just upgraded it to Platinum when he married the Ketchup lady), yet actually served in ‘Nam, opposed to Bush and all his buddies, who did everything they could to stay well away from every war they didn’t actually start. I had family who died in Iraq, the month after Kerry lost to Bush. Hearing someone say “we dodged a bullet” in this situation makes me at least want to knock some holes in drywall. Anything would’ve been better than Bush Deux: Part Deux. If not for the country’s physical domestic fortunes, at least for it’s global reputation and, well, it’s soul.
Now, away from our tool and onto this gem, “But on the plus side, replacing Kerry would improve relations with Congress and likely with the rest of the world.” I’ll chalk this up to a late night posting on the authors part, but Obama, spying on his friends and allies, bugging diplomatic areas, engaging in drone warfare the world over, forcing the economic agenda of corporate America on the rest of the world, Developed and Undeveloped, probably can’t improve his reputation in the world by shit-canning Kerry. Kerry’s connected. Probably has about the same life story as every diplomat he runs into. Moneyed? Check. Time in resident Nation’s Military? Check. Top Flight Education? Check. Viewed as Elder Statesmen? Check. Kerry is a perfect diplomat. One commentator seems to dock points from Kerry for not delivering peace in the Middle East. How do we all by now not view peace in the Middle East the same way we view whatever the hell the First Lady’s pet cause is? Cute. Quaint. Heart-Warming. A lark, laughably, stupidly impossible due to culture and history. The Palestinians and Israelis think whoever we send in is a joke, because he’s usually bought and paid for by Israel and really doesn’t give a damn about the plight of the Palestinian people. Not that the Israelis or Palestinians don’t just do whatever they want anyways even if we sent in a fair and balanced negotiator.
Second, how is improving relations with Congress a “Plus”? Do you mean, a plus for Obama? Because Obama and Congress finding middle ground on anything – Congress, being a majority Neo-Liberal, Conservative, Republican Hive of Wretched Scum and Villainy, would be a distinct minus for America. Do we really need them to find a consensus on cutting Social Security? (I mean, “Reforming Entitlements”) More Free Trade Agreements? Maybe allowing the Keystone Pipeline through in return for more wind and solar development, or more likely, Keystone XL for more fracking for Natural Gas, EDF’s “Bridge Fuel”? Look at what the Congressional and Executive branches have collaborated on: Obamacare, the Sequester, The NDAA, and the JOBS Act. Look at what happens when Obama and Congress are effectively communicating. It’s a minus. At the very least.
Personally, I think Kerry is a miracle worker. Yes, he may be a hamfisted, dunderheaded magoo slowly turning American Fuck-Ups into American Clusterfucks, (I do applaud your beltway friend’s use of the word “Clusterfuck.” It’s a beautiful term, coarse yet elegant. Entirely cromulent. You can’t read it, say it or write it without a smile. Clusterfuck.) but look at how effective he’s been at hamstringing Obama’s policy choices! Perhaps we have it wrong. Obama is the amateur and moron, while Kerry is the multi-dimensional chess player, screwing over the young upstart and more conservative Obama at every turn. I think, if we examined Kerry closely, vocal proponent that Climate Change is real, pro-Abortion, pro-Gay Rights, Pro-Gun Control, Anti-Privatisation of Social Security, while also being too dumb to actually pull off any of the dumb shit he wants to do, we should all thank Kerry for being Kerry and pressure Obama to keep him around and in power.
Also, Yves Smith, you commented that “Congress is showing some spine.” I’m not sure what you mean. Congress just seems to be opposing Obama. They always oppose Obama. The Republicans hate him to the point where if tomorrow he said, “Well, time for Peace with Syria,” they’ll probably call him a pussy and demand military intervention. They’ll say it’s unconstitutional for a President to negotiate peace treaties. They’ll want to impeach him. Really. I bet Rep. King goes on Fox News and says the President needs to grow a pair and confront a dangerous terrorist like Assad. (He’s a member of the Taliban! He knew where Osama Bin Laden was! He got his chemical weapons from Zombie Hussein! DEAR GOD ZOMBIE HUSSEIN! LETS GO BACK INTO IRAQ AND REKILL HIM! WE SHOULDN’T OF HUNG HIM! WE NEEDED TO SEPARATE HIS HEAD FROM HIS TORSO, PREFERABBLY MOUNTED ON A PIKE OUTSIDE OF THE TEXAS STATEHOUSE! Sorry. Lost track. Too late. Or early. But really, this is what you will see on Fox News and from the Republican Rep’s. I’ve already heard one Rep talk about Syria’s Chem weapons being supplied by Saddam. Like, since Saddam died.) I also get the feeling that Pelosi thinks he’s an idiot, and Reid is kind’ve a Good Ol’ Boy, that is an elderly sexist racist asshole who only really goes along with Obama because they receive campaign funding and future job offers from the same people. I’m not entirely certain that this constitutes growing a spine, I’m sure the “Congresscritters” will be back to being cowardly disappointments soon enough.
So I guess, in response to “Why does Kerry have a job?” I’d say, “because Obama is an idiot and the country has gone insane.” We could go through most of Washington, from the House, to the Senate, to to the SEC, to the OMB, to the USDA, to the Pentagon, to K Street, to the Political Beat Writers, to anyone affiliated with the Washington Wizards or Capitals. Why the hell do any of those people still have jobs? Wait, no. Obama isn’t an idiot. Obama is a Clusterfuck given shape, form and sentience. That’s why Kerry still has a job. Because it is a clusterfuck.
The whole fiasco reminds me why, though I’d have voted against W the first time, I’d have voted for W rather than Kerry the second. Kerry, I’d say, was the worst major party presidential candidate I can remember – even worse than McCain.
I dunno…Michael Dukakis always struck me as the absolute gold standard in the categgry of Presidential candidates who sucked.
The pinnacle (or nadir) for me was a geriatric Viagra spokesman who referred to himself in the third person.
It’s obvious the legacy parties give each other elections by putting up complete joke candidates. Remember Sen. Bomber and Gov. Airhead McTits?
The two party system means the money party, and the rest of us.
Are you guys serious. This is Politico at its worst! We avoid a war, we avoid more Syrians dying, and you are into who won, who lost? Really? This is pathetic, reflexive, thoughtless anti-Obama writing and nothing more.
Please I know Yves you are unhappy with Obama, so am I. But this is great news, the fact that he was willing to bring in Congress, that he was willing to take up this 2nd chance for not bombing.
As you well know in such situations nothing works as planned, it is how one takes up the opportunities that present themselves that makes you a statesman. Please do not pretend to not know this in your dislike of Obama.
With all due respect, you don’t get it.
1. Obama is not acting like a statesman. He had a rebellion in Congress, was outmaneuvered by the Russians and the Pentagon was not behind him. Even his own party is substantially in revolt. He is trying to maintain some dignity, not taking up an opportunity.
2. Did you see his speech? He was still selling war. The pressure needs to be kept on Obama. The new line is “we can’t trust those
CommieSyrian bastards and you anti-war folks are as bad as the people who ignored the Nazis.” We have not yet avoided a war. The process has been put on hold and Obama will have to push hard to get it started, but Obama has most assuredly not given up.
Totally agree. This is the bottom line. Cut thru all the crap and we end up with a push, ongoing, to get Obama the authority from Congress to just go for it. It is interesting that Backchannel, posted here today in Links, has what seems to be good info indicating that there is a concerted Mid East effort by Syria, Russia, Iran and even the Saudis to avoid war. Israel is noticeably quiet, except for kooky Sheldon Adelson (who the chicken hawks wish would please shut up); John McCain hasn’t said a word that I have seen. No brave warrior wants to be exposed for fraud these days. And I can’t help wondering if the balance of war isn’t being decided by the fact that maybe we really don’t have much of an interest in the Mid East any more. It’s just not worth it. This leaves the neocons high and dry. Even the Saudis are concocting stories that distance them from the US. But this isn’t a done deal. It’s more like the lunch special. It all could turn on a dime.
Israel might have gone for this a year or so ago, but Assad isn’t going to be replaced by a cadre of Sunni Baathists who will keep the Israeli/Syrian relationship going anymore.At the same time, AIPAC is an organization with an aging membership. Do young Jews or young liberals, who may have once admired the quirky state that could with its non-Soviet farming collectives, care about Israel?
When I first realized Israel was a backwards Apartheid regime, that kind of thing would ruin friendships with non-Jews. Today, its said quite a bit. Obama was caught saying he couldn’t stand Bibi, possibly the most sensible thing he has ever said.
The Saudis are weird because there are no legitimate heirs to the ruling cadre. They have been running things personally. Bandar Bush has been a top dog for 30 years. Who is his successor? There may 40,000 princes, but I don’t think they have a leadership issue. I think the Saudis are trying to weaken every Muslim state, so they don’t appear to be so crummy. At some point, the current cadre will be in the home. Are they going to the crooked home? For Breaking Bad fans, will they be living with Tuco or being visited by Gus? Who knows what will happen if the younger princes cant agree?
Actually, the thing statesman Obama has revived is the previous stupid vs evil debate. Only this time, it’s crazy vs stupid.
Many people have commented on his incoherent and self-contradictory address last night, wondering if it’s just word salad to appear the statesman while distancing himself from his past actions and words, or whether he’s really going the full Captain Queeg and we’re going to start hearing about cheese.
It’s undeniable he’s a mass of badly managed personal failures and mental blocks. It’s a question of neurotic vs paranoid. In other words, he is without a doubt a head case, but is he over the edge? Is there a military psychiatrist somewhere working on a case file, just in case?
I agree with the broad conclusion from the earlier discussion; there’s nothing exclusive about being crazy or evil.
Only this time, it’s crazy vs stupid.
that should be
Only this time, it’s crazy vs evil.
More coffee, I promise.
Evil or not caring to be more accurate doesn’t breed competence. Empathy on the other hand drives one to care about results beyond one’s personal successes. They are the same thing.
Empathetic people who may not be talented enough to run things do try to find people who are. Obama had support from people who thought Harvard and the Black Experience would be an ideal combination. Mistakes were made. Obama’s arrogance leads him to a path where he doesn’t care about results as much as headlines. He seemed shocked when Jon Stewart asked him about the housing crisis on The Daily Show. Obama and his handlers had to know Stewart would ask the toughest question of any American, but Obama more or less said, “what problem? We had a program.” During the campaign, he eventually provided a watered-down version of Hillary’s housing plan, and he didn’t achieve this end. If he cared, could he produce a plan? Perhaps, he was happy being told HAMP was fine even though it had nothing to do with his campaign promises which were way more extreme than HAMP by stretch of the imagination before the Lehman event. What did Obama and his handlers think Stewart would ask? He didn’t blame Republicans. He just said we have a program which succeeded despite every major of record running with the disaster that was HAMP that week. The MTV “Boxer or Briefs” question towards Clinton was followed by the marijuana question.
There was a televised town hall, and a middle-aged African American woman said she was tired of defending him and the poor economy. Obama said something that was revealing. He said the economy is getting better but it would take time to get back to 2007. Obama implied he considered the 2007 economy to be good when he was proposing tax cuts for working Americans, significantly higher salaries for teachers, major healthcare reform, job training, tax incentives, infrastructure spending, and a host of other issues including major housing reforms.
Look at the recent madness over Syria, do you think anyone in the Administration has a clue about the state of Libya beyond the bizarre Benghazi criticisms? The answer is they don’t know and don’t care. They are wonderful and don’t need to learn.
Of course, incompetence alone can overwhelm any situation.
“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money of their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.
The Great Gatsby
Chapter 9, Nick on the Buchanans.
You’re partly correct. If we’d still had the Dick, Cheney, in charge, he and his sidekick GWB would quite likely have started WW3 now, just as he nearly did in Georgia-Ossetia (we were that close!). At least Obama is smarter.
Still, it’s immensely gratifying to see humble pie on the charlatan’s face. Sweet…very sweet! Zeus has stumbled from Olympus’ summit, his brass crown is tarnished, his halo askew, aura dimmed, Teflon scratched, imperial clothing vanished, etc.. If only he could now be permanently put out of our misery at The Hague.
The lion’s share of credit really goes to Russia here, not so much to a suddenly-repentant war criminal, not to Kerry’s lurching bumbling, nor an uncharacteristic bout of conscience in the US Knesset. You see, where we use our own constitution as toilet paper, our international treaties as litter-box liners, and the Geneva Conventions as outdated suggestions, the Russians apparently have principles and honor their commitments. How quaint. Their defense treaty with Syria was a solemn bond, and their large and growing fleet in the eastern Mediterranean was pointed evidence of that.
No, Obama was not outmaneuvered by diplomacy; he was faced with actual war, with an opponent who could and would fight back with real, not mythical, weapons. True, Obama is a criminal chicken-hawk with the same self-righteous arrogance and dishonest certitude as bush, but thankfully he’s smarter than a shrub.
Of course it could still happen. Israel still wants its war on Iran. And Israel almost always gets what it wants…to the detriment of everyone else…even if it turns itself into a sea of glass in the process.
We avoid a war? Maybe for a while.
My sense is that the Russian proposal was simply playing for time. It’s easy for me to imagine how this plays out:
This gets bandied about the security council for a while. Finally, an agreement acceptable to all is reached (which may take a while). Inspectors are given the go-ahead. Assad plays the same cat-and-mouse games Saddam Hussein did – with Russias help, he could drag this out for a long, long time. At that point, I could see it escalating into an even bigger conflict.
Comments like this kill me, what comedy gold. He’s a statesman for recognizing he was tap dancing naked in a minefield? No, all it showed was that he was not quite ready yet to self-immolate.
Using your standard of statesmanship, Hitler’s suicide was an act of selflessness as he attempted to end the war a few days early to save the juveniles in Berlin’s streets who were up against seasoned Soviet troops.
I feel sad when I think that Obama is still getting through to a few of diehards. The man is a sociopath. Accept it.
What did you think Yves? That Kerry is a public school teacher or something who will be held accountable (for things not under their control) and fired? Accountability is for little people/suckers, and never for Wall Street, corporations or politicians
Kerry has become a laughingstock in the Beltway and an embarrassment to his boss. Obama has a notoriously thin skin.
There is a difference between being ineffective (normal ineptitude) and widely-recognized egregious failure. Differences in degree are differences in kind.
And you guys need to read more carefully. I clearly said:
1. Obama OUGHT TO fire Kerry
2. Obama has an even better course of action (as in less controversial and risky) which is to appoint all sorts of special envoys and czars to take important initiatives out of Kerry’s hands. He becomes less a player and more a figurehead
3. Obama won’t because Obama still wants a war and Kerry wants one too. Any new player could go off the reservation, particularly if the intel is as mixed/bad as it is rumored to be.
That’s what has happened in the past. Secretaries of State have rarely been the foreign policy point people in modern US. On the other hand, the Obama administration came in with an agenda to help the State Department claw back influence from the Defense Department and the National Security Adviser, and they have been partially successful in that. So Obama might not want to weaken the position.
Well, I’m not too sure about your notion that the State Department has presented much of an alternative to military action in recent American history. In fact, to my eye, it has more commonly played a supporting role to the desired end-state of the application of force majeure.
The regional experts, who have some sense of the peoples, religions, and long-standing dynamics of their areas of expertise, have become decreasingly listened to by Presidents or, for that matter, the Secretary of State, who ostensibly values their input. To be an Arabist at State has become a career liability.
Rather, State is there to prepare the way for war, not to find ways to avoid it. Bellicosity is a job qualification for Secretary of State, and although someone like Hillary Clinton, out of reasons of self-aggrandizement, may appear to want a bigger role for State qua diplomacy, in actual fact she was quite alright at laying the severed horse’s head on the pillows of those who the President wanted to bully in private.
Who in the administration came up with the “red line” idea? Rice? Powers? Clinton? Sunstein? Don’t you think that head might roll?
Pls, let it be Sunstein!
Actually I agree with all you said Yves. I was trying to do snark and guess didn’t do a good job.
Was there anyone out there forewarning us a Secretary Kerry would be Inspector Clouseau? Clearly resumes give limited
insight into a candidates ability to do the job.
i think the reason kerry still has a job is that he was doing exactly what obama wanted him to do.
At the 2004 convention, Kerry strode on to the stage amidst flags and veterans with every delegate who was a veteran with their military hats on and announced, “Reporting for Duty” and he saluted. “Just following orders,sir.” I was there and it chilled me to the bone.
OOps. Kerry did start out with “Reporting for Duty”. Just to be clear He did not say, “Just following orders, Sir.” That’s what I expect he is saying now. Interesting what the military does to some.
What if there was a war and nobody came?
ineptly, i should add, but since when has competence been a requirement? the only that gets you fired by obama is being accused of being prgressive.
Washington is not a town where, once you appoint someone, and they misbehave then you fire him or her because that indicates that things are not fine and the media will go into an orgy of tempests in teapots. I would be shocked if Kerry resigned anytime soon.
Kerry is not some hireling, he has a power base in Washington and may look like a clown but he’s a serious player who elbowed his way into his job just as Lady Clinton did. Cabinet positions are staffed to keep alliances intact.
What is clear here is that the administration, like Washington in general, is deeply divided and I don’t mean just along party lines. What I call the “deep state” is divided just as much and it cuts clear across party lines. The dominant party in that “state” is the War Party but there is and has been since Iraq a considerable body of opposition within the bureaucracy particularly in the analytical part of the CIA and parts of the Pentagon. These dissenters have been instrumental in stopping any plans to attack Iran and seem to be a force to be reckoned with.
I am waiting to see if the mainstream media which has been completely dominated by the War Party since Operation Mockingbird back in the day will move more towards the anti-war side of the equation. Fox shows signs of coming closer to where the American people are at the moment, i.e., they are sick and tired of the BS and blatant corruption coming out of Washington–God, I’ve waited for this moment for a long time–we may see the deconstruction of the policy that came in with the neoconservatives at last.
Where the media eventually decides to go on this is where we ought to keep our eyes–will we see a bit of give on the Washington narrative of Assad = Hitler and must be stopped or r will we see a more skeptical attitude of what our motivations are like why are we supporting Al-qaida and the authoritarian regimes in the Gulf and so and so on?
As I indicated, there are ways to take far and away the most important matter, the negotiations over Syria, which will include how the verification of the completeness of the destruction of Syrian stockpiles takes place, off Kerry’s plate. Moreover, the Kerry’s abysmal performance is discussed accurately and pointedly, the more he becomes damaged goods. It becomes harder for Obama to work through him and forces him to start thinking about other means.
The reason we have a National Security Advisor is that Nixon did pretty much the same routine with his Secretary of State, albeit for different reasons. Obama’s appointed all sorts of “special masters” and czars of this and that. There’s plenty of bureaucratic precedent here.
Kerry is not some hireling, he has a power base in Washington and may look like a clown but he’s a serious player who elbowed his way into his job just as Lady Clinton did. Cabinet positions are staffed to keep alliances intact.
Meh. He’s not “some hireling”, he was a reasonably powerful Senator and a Presidential candidate. But he never had a lot of loyal followers, unlike Clinton. And power is not a static entity, which means he’s lost a lot of his stature and influence.
Kerry represents a certain faction he is a part of–his job, like that of all politicians is to be power-broker–to bring players together and form a faction. He is neither a leader nor follower but a part of a network of people which changes with the winds–but that’s Washington. Again, I wouldn’t dismiss him as a potent player.
I can see the e-mail address of “Matt” and it’s someone who has a seat at the table in this fight. With all due respect, his info on this is leaps and bounds better than yours.
You could just as easily have said Joe McCarthy was invulnerable circa 1953. Yet he fell fast and hard. Power is indeed not static and Kerry is losing cred and stature with every passing day.
Yves, you have a great track record and when in doubt one can’t go far wrong deferring to your judgment. I’m just guessing here based on many years of observation of this sort of thing and your Matt may be right. But Washington is a very murky place with many points of view and agendas. The movie Roshomon comes to mind.
I’m a bit disappointed by the perspective of the article – trying to understand what is in the Regime’s best interest. This is MSM bias we get shoved down our throats every day. NC is a reputable site, still I don’t expect an article with the perspective of what is best for the Syrian Administration. Let’s be objective here: which government is threatening to attack the other one? And they’re the good guys?
Afraid that from kindergarten to old age we are all victims of programming and no matter how intelligent and open minded we are we can never completely outgrow such early brainwashing. It doesn’t change the fact that the regime in Washington, and other western capitals, does not serve the interests of average people and will never do so again. It must be eliminated if Americans are to have a better future. I don’t see how you ever begin to do that when even sites with alternative thinkers continue to view what happens to the White House as also happening to every citizen. They couldn’t care less about us! Why should we care about their perspective on things? Especially when they are, as correctly stated above, a bunch of sociopaths.
1. You effectively accuse me of naivete and then discuss eliminating the regime in Washington? Honestly, if anyone is smoking anything here, it’s not me. Did you miss that Occupy Wall Street was crushed by a Federally-coordinated 17 city paramilitary effort, and that the Feds are getting more influence over local police providing money to militarize and train them?
2. Despite 1, the public DID get its will heard, and the President has been forced to take the Russian offer due to the degree of public opposition. Whip counts show he has less than 40 votes for war in the Senate. He couldn’t even get the fig leaf of Senate approval, which was his fallback.
3. You also seem to miss that getting rid of or reducing the influence of Kerry would be an important signal that the Administration is serious about backing away from Syrian war-mongering. This is not a “good for the Administration” idea, this is a “good for the public and lessens embarrassment to Obama” move. In case you missed it (we’ve been writing about it), Obama is not taking the current level of pressure on him at all well. He’s been behaving erratically since the Snowden revelations. He needs to man up or get better meds. And having a Secretary of State who blew it as badly as Kerry did is increasing the pressure on Obama, which in turn could result in even more erratic conduct. You do NOT want an imperially-minded executive acting like a loose cannon, which is what is starting to happen (although his sulking speech last night shows Obama is still in contact with reality).
4. This line of discussion (Kerry’s incompetence and he IS incompetent) is meant to keep the Administration on its back foot. Obama is trying to regroup and salvage the original Kerry argument: that Syria can’t/won’t destroy the weapons on the US’s timetable. Now that Russia has forced an extension of the runway (from a week to at least a month) and is in the mix to guarantee Syrian performance (Russia has it own reasons to want the stockpiles destroyed, or so I am told by people who’ve gotten insider briefings), there is actually reason to think the Syrians will play ball (remember, there are still tons of industrial chemicals that aren’t designated WMD, that’s why the Admin fixation on WMD as a casus belli could be end run).
In other words, despite your assertion that Washington doesn’t care about the public, the public won this round. That’s in part because the elites are divided on this issue. But the heat needs to be kept on the Administration, because they are still looking for a way to revive the war push. But no, you’d rather cynically throw up your hands and cave in to the bad guys just after a hard-fought battle has been won.
I think you are mainly right in your reply. Certainly the public has suddenly erupted as a force Washington did not expect. I suspect we’ll see the ramifications of this in the months to come. Maybe the mind-control regime initiated by the likes of Edward Bernays and Walter Lippmann may be coming up against a wall. We’ll see.
But I disagree with your assessment of Kerry. He is clumsy and not good on camera but he does represent a coalition of interests that should not be taken lightly. I don’t know who you’ve been talking to but I learned long ago that Washington is extremely murky with a lot of thrashing underneath the surface as well as double-dealing and all the sins of any Byzantine-like imperial capital. Kerry got where he is now through skill not incompetence.
Having said that, I really don’t know what is going on with this situation–it breaks the pattern so we are in uncharted territory.
I’ll take political victories, especially rare and unlikely ones such as this, whenever I can get them. And make no mistake, the American people were overwhelming winners in this. I’ve rarely felt more energized by a Beltway outcome. I’m savoring the moment.
Maybe the adminstration will do a run around. Maybe not. My sense right now is no they won’t. The scuttlebutt seems to imply that congress and the administration alike want to see this go away, and will do everything in their collective powers to see that it does. I’m generally cynical, but somehow I belive them this time.
This is a fantastic article with some brilliant information and analysis, Yves. Thank you very much. I love this website.
Kerry is showing signs of early stage dementia smothered in Ketchup money. If you or I exhibited similar behavior our relatives would be planning an intervention. Kerry, on the other hand, gets to ride shotgun with the boss until the stagecoach is out of the Badlands. He is owning the part of brilliant deadpan comical sidekick. It’s a breakout role that Washington has never seen before. He’s lost the script and is now completely ad-libing. What he says and does next is anyone guess. Bravo!!!
Actually, that (early signs of dementia) crossed my mind, too, over the last few days, while watching him, listening to him.
It also occurred to me that lead poisoning from high lead levels in the WH and Capitol Building would be another explanation for all the angry, aggressive, and violent moods, rhetoric, hating, and frothing-at-the-mouth war-mongering on Capitol Hill!
thanks for the chuckle.
There is an article at Le Monde today: “Comment François Hollande a choisi l’option militaire”. Link: http://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2013/09/10/comment-francois-hollande-a-choisi-l-option-militaire_3473857_3210.html
So, Hollande says “Bashar el-Assad must go”. That is easy to say, but to be replaced by who? I am still perplexed at that question.
A failed state full of petty chieftans, war lords, emirs, sheiks and so on sort of like Libya/Iraq but a bit more unstable.
I volunteered on the Kerry campaign in 2004 and can honestly say, “Wow, did we ever dodge a bullet….” With a gazillion others (who worked much harder than I for a very long time), I was still at the HQ at 10PM, calling bemused people out west to brightly make sure they had a ride to their local voting station. After that, I joined a gazillion supporters standing in the miserable freezing rain for hours at Copley Square, patiently waiting for Kerry to come out on the giant stage and thank everyone who’d so staunchly supported him through a nasty campaign. I gave up on that only when I had to catch the last train home, then on TV watched John Edwards be sent out to make Kerry’s excuses at 2AM (not that there’s any reason to feel bad about that now that we know *his* true character). Throughout the day and night, we’d all listened to Kerry and Edwards vow with righteous fire to fight to the bitter end, to refuse to concede until the very last (Ohio) vote was counted, to challenge any dicey results. Then the next morning I turned on the news in time to hear that Kerry had wimped out and thrown in the towel– BEFORE Ohio’s very first count was completed. WHAT? I called the HQ I’d been making manic phone calls from less than 12 hours earlier and promised that if he threw that election away after all the work so many people had done for him, before the Ohio vote was even completed (!), I would never vote for him again… and I’ve kept that promise. Strange to work in good faith, and for free, for a person’s campaign one night and wonder by noon the next day if maybe it was just as well he didn’t win.
And speaking of hypocrites and DNC 2004, here’s my question for the guy in the WH: “Who are you and what have you done with the brilliant young senator whom I saw in person at the Boston waterfront, passionately expounding on caring, ethical, sustainable stewardship of the environment (among many other long-abandoned ideals)?”
At the time, even before the election, I believed Kerry took a dive–he could not have run that incompetent a campaign. His refusal to question the Ohio vote made me 100% certain that the fix was in. There has never been, in modern history, a more blatant stolen election than Ohio’s. Even Florida in ’00 was less obvious.
Have to admit I worked for Edwards in 2004. First time I was actively political. Edwards was forced on to that ticket to appease the left. Kerry and Edwards were like oil and water. I supported Edwards for his “reward work not wealth” pro-worker ideas not the man. But as far as his personal life is concerned, he was no better or worse than any of them. Marriages are private matters as we said with the Clintons, so I won’t judge that part. But I don’t believe Edwards thought they would not fight the vote count. He looked genuinely shocked and awed when he was sent out there.
Oh yeah, Kerry-Edwards…dodged two bullets!
Private affairs don’t intrigue me at all (MYOB), but what John (damn I’m good-looking!) Edwards did to sweetheart Elizabeth (RIP) during her cancer fight sickened me (like Reptile Newt serving divorce papers to his wife in the hospital). Also, doing it during a campaign, knowing what an orgasmic issue it would make for sex-obsessed (read: deprived) Republicans, was the height of folly and disrespect for his voters.
I’m with you on Ohio 2004. That election was the first live-blogging I ever did, and there were multiple signs of election fraud by Republicans, before we even get to the mysteriously long lines in the Democratic districts. The one I remember the best was the county building where they were counting the votes that was suddenly locked down when DHS warned them of a threat; except some enterprising reporter called DHS and they didn’t know anything about it.
So I go to bed thinking the Kerry camp is going to challenge the vote — in a way, wiping out the theft of election 2000 — and then wake up to find out they conceded. This after actually fundraising to have the money for court challenges. I should have left the party then, instead of waiting for Obama’s flip flop on FISA in July 2008, but I thought it had to the candidate, and not the party….
Obama, Kerry, Rice, Powers, Pelosi, Republicans . . .what is the difference?
Kakistocracy – government by idiots
Obama should make Gore, McCain or Romney the next Secretary of State to give us another election outcome to not mourn anymore.
I don’t see why they would dismiss Kerry now. Obama and Congress have both taken the line that keeping the military option open is a key to the diplomatic strategy. Since Kerry is seen as the main proponent of the military strategy, firing him would send the message that the US government is divided internally, and is not actually committed to the military option.
I agree that Kerry is a bumbling fool and should go, but framing Kerry as the loser here is a bit misleading. Does anybody believe that Kerry came up with the idea to bomb Syria? The neo-cons have been planning to take down Asad for over a decade. The Obama presidency has basically been defined by it’s continuity of government policy from the Bush years. Kerry was just the inept salesman, not someone who went Rogue on Obama. Given that there is no clear evidence that Asad gassed his own people, and it would have been illogical for him to do so, I would submit that the CW justification was just “inserted” after the plans for regime change decided upon. Obama tried very hard to sell this attack along with Kerry. They were both stopped by overwhelming public opinion. This makes me and a lot of people very scared of another 9/11 false flag to get Americans behind war again.
I think you’re basically right–but, though I have no particular reason to think it, I believe Obama does not want to get involved in another war and is being forced by the War Party to do so. Kerry is their senior representative within the administration–politically, he was, for whatever reasons strong-armed into making him Secretary of State by party operatives—that seemed obvious to me at the time. All I can say is that Washington politics is always murky and Byzantine but it is now even more so. I think we have a dizzying system of changing alliances within the power structure that will be spinning even more now because the mainstream media has just been presented with the fact they were not able, despite their heroic efforts, to stampede the public into war. This has never happened before–there has never been a full-out media campaign for war that has failed that I remember.
Obama is stuck with Kerry until Kerry decides he wants to leave. To sack him now will just demonstrate once again how incompetent Obama himself is.
As for Putin, I think this deal is likely a pseudosacrifice. In chess, a pseudosacrifice is giving up material in the full knowledge that you will get it back with additional advantages. In this case, it puts US military action in Syria into a frozen state for however long Putin wishes to keep it there.
I wonder about what has not been stated. What is the carrot?
Syria gives up chemical weapons in exchange for what? The most up to date Russian surface to air missile systems? How about longer range super sonic anti-ship missiles?
Pass the Tums to Israel.
Chemical weapons are a red herring. They appeal to the sadistic and frighten the sheep, but they aren’t kept in the stockpiles of modern armies over concerns about human rights. They just don’t work very well. A wind comes up and bam the weapons is dispersed to a point where its no longer effective. No wind comes up and sits in one place. The solution is to walk away. Sure people in the immediate area will be hurt.
When shells start to fly, people seek shelter. Its the natural response. Doors and windows can be shut. Gasmasks aren’t hard to build. The “rebels” had “how to build your own gas mask video” over a year ago.
Artillery is far more effective at slaughtering civilians. Good old fashioned bombing killed 600,000 Germans in Dresden. All without chemical weapons. An explosion goes, people hide, and then bam, good artillerymen hit the strongest building which collapses and crushes everyone.
Starvation. Cutting off roads and water supplies. These are far more effective techniques. The weapons used for this work against protected soldiers, but chemical weapons need a separate division for proper care and maintenance and can’t be a windy or rainy day because the ordinance is useless. Artillery gunners can adjust for weather and curve of the Earth, and the regular bombs still work.
This isn’t to say members of the Administration don’t worry about chemical weapons. They might. Chemical weapons have been bandied about for years as a boogeyman, but they aren’t effective. The Japanese tested them extensively with the promise they would be cheaply produced to counter American firepower. What happened? The Japanese couldn’t figure it out because its impact is local immediate or dispersed too quickly.
As far as quid pro quo, the Russians know the Syrian stockpiles are holdovers from an older era, and the Syrian military knows it too. This was a chance to embarrass Obama when he started trying to scare Americans with threats of WMDs into his war. He went to the UN and let Cameron be embarrassed over chemical weapons, but chemical weapons aren’t going to blunt a tank column or hurt a country where everyone owns real gas masks.
As far as balance with Israel, what would happen if Damascus or Tehran disappeared? Israel would become the pariah of the world. They would be starved into non-existence. The Syrians know this.
Its a red herring. Part of me thinks, Obama is deranged and loves to give orders, and another part of me knows the Democrats are full of people obsessed with not being called wimps by the Republicans.
The Democratic Party is hamstrung in its choice of candidates by the need for these people to pass muster at the hands of the big donors and AIPAC. Without their support, there is no campaign. So the democratic presidential candidates wind up running on gay rights, feeling your pain, and hope and change. Anyone not prepared to carry water for the FIRE sector or Israel is out. The issues of economic justice and peace may be hinted at, but with a wink and a nod to the Power Elite (remember Obama talking about NAFTA while his aids were reassuring the money men that it was all for show).
George McGovern was the last candidate who was not a wholly owned subsidiary of the power structure, and look what they did to him. This is why I feel the people who keep telling me to “take back the Democratic Party” are fooling themselves. Under almost every circumstance I can imagine short of total system collapse we get the candidate that is chosen for us.
“On the negative side of the ledger, getting rid of Kerry now or anytime soon could increase the perception of an Administration in disarray. It would also increase focus on Syria, when given what a loser the war effort has become, Obama would probably prefer to direct media attention elsewhere.”
He’ll have no problem directing media attention elsewhere. The bankrupt whores of London and New York who need expanding conflagration to juice their war-making assets now are left only with each other to credibly devour, so let the shark feeding frenzy begin!
Per the president’s “not-too-subtle subtext that those who weren’t with him were the moral equivalent of Nazi collaborators,” that might sell in Oklahoma City, but here on the coast we know where “Nazi collaborators” are working and it is in a US State Department that would make a case to side with bearded cannibals and other like-minded murderers of children recently kidnapped from Latakia featured in YouTube videos presenting Nazi-like “proof” of the SAA’s chemical weapons attack in Ghouta.
i think Kerry still has a job because, frankly, despite all his faults, he is more competent than Obama. Obama would be lost without a Sec of State stronger than he is.
It’s pretty much impossible for us not to be naive in trying to work out politics and military strategy. We are forced to conjecture through lack of facts and a perverse argumentative machine. Politics rather than financialisation-militarisation should be global, something we all know, yet an apparent impossibility and “idealistic” in the pejorative sense.
The stories put to us on Iraq, Afghanistan and now Syria were ludicrous in the extreme, the shift to the CW false flag now looking pretty dumb and potentially disastrous if evidence comes out it was not Assad’s forces. I wonder how much of the world believes the ‘American policing’ story – one that looks like old fashioned Anglo-French imperialism under ‘mandate’ or the farce of Suez. Memories of the Suez Crisis as an attempt to retake the whole Middle East and control the oil (as in Iran where BP was extracting more revenue than the State)are almost non-existent in the UK. We also have little memory of the US as a competitor, real and potential enemy in oil control. Ask whose navies were queuing up in the China seas in 1906 and why – most won’t know and probably think the Opium Wars were a policing action by the Royal Navy against drug runners.
What does real history tell us about today’s motivations? I see our politicians as psychopaths convincing parole board members they will make a fresh start (parole boards find psychopaths three times more convincing than ordinary prisoners). Banger talks of body-language, but we need to remember most people are convinced by the very stuff we find devious and very limited world-views that excuse the whole neo-con project as realistic in this dirty world. Blair went from Thatcher-alternative to Bliar or Thatcher in drag very quickly using the same ‘soft-skills’ tricks.
It is good to see the changes in public opinion and the harassment of representatives on both sides of the pond. Kerry obviously thought he could ride to the Whitehouse on a strongman image. We are still not capable of a campaign that will prevent his clones succeeding.
The beauty part of Lavrov’s proposal is that it cuts out the US entirely. As Bernhard points out, there exists a proven, routine procedure for putting chemical weapons under international control. The Chemical Weapons Convention has it covered. Its treaty body, the OPCW, are the pros here.
A sovereign state’s treaty accession is none of Obama’s business. Part of the intention of Obama’s infomercial is to try and keep interfering in the disarmament process as a pretext for aggression. That’s why his French satellite state is submitting draft resolutions under Chapter VII instead of Chapter VI. The only reason to get the UNSC seized of this agreement is to contain the breach of peace.
The question that the public and the world will be asking Obama is, Who gives a shit what you think about chemical weapons? The world is handling this.
Samantha Power, Susan Rice, liberal interventionists
[Right, right, right. Scary and incompetent, what more could we ask in the new breed of diplomats?]
“This from the leader of nation that has recently used and still supplies other countries with chemical weapons.”
Eh? Recently used WHERE? Supplied WHO?
A very brief history of the U.S. use of chemical weapons
10 Chemical Weapons Attacks the U.S. Government Doesn’t Want You to Know About
The U.S., Britain and Israel have Used Chemical Weapons within the Last 10 Years
Don’t know who your insider is but he or she clearly has an agenda. For one thing, Susan Rice and Samantha Power are not Kerry’s people, they are Hillary’s girls and Obama’s girls.
Kerry IS a clusterfuck but only because he’s conflicted: forget liberal, Hillary was a straight up cold killer. Just check out the sequence of events in Libya where the blow back, even after last years disaster in Northern Mali, has only just begun.
America is the world’s Imperium: Some in power embrace it—and those people are the enemy—and some have delusions about the possibility of turning the Imperium into a force for good. It’s no wonder that those people, like Kerry, typically look delusional.
You are either straw-manning (which would imply you are the one with an agenda and are engaging in projection) or only skimmed the piece.
1. The insider part never once suggests that Powers and Rice are Kerry people. It merely makes a side comment that they are losers, in the same sentence as “liberal interventionists,” and later mentions that Kerry and Powers took similar positions. Is it news to you that people from different tribes in DC routinely team up on shared agendas?
2. The insider part makes is clear that Kerry screwed up operationally, that he he couldn’t being to roll out the war campaign. The big criticism isn’t about strategy, it’s about tactics, and Kerry has been a disaster.
3. Tell me where, re Syria, there is evidence that Kerry was conflicted. His actions say the reverse. He was continuing to go pedal to the metal for war after the Russians came out with the diplomacy proposal. If he was conflicted, he could have gone silent, said something non-committal but stern (along the lines of “we don’t trust Syria but we need to study this”), said he had to confer with Obama. It was Obama that overruled him via media comments a few hours later. That says that Kerry went out ahead of Obama and got reined in because he was more hawkish than his boss. It’s the reverse of your characterization.
I just heard a report on NPR that credits Kerry with being involved in negotiations with Lavrov at least since the spring on eliminating chemical agents from Syria. The report painted a good picture of Kerry. Also, just read Milbank in the WaPost who was critical of Obama and not Kerry in the zigzagging of FP recently. Milbank reflects the opinion of many in official Washington and is very well-connected. His “line” is always worth reading as reflecting high-level opinion.
Yves, I believe your contacts may well be in the WH and may seek to throw blame on Kerry, via your blog.
As for Powers/Rice I believe they are more vulnerable since the confusion of policy comes from the WH not, it appears, from Kerry, the CIA, or the Pentagon or at least that is what a segment of the media seems to be saying. I can’t bear to watch cable though I may on this matter to see what their line is.
1. My contacts are not in the WH. I’ve been shooting at Treasury and Obama forever. I’m the last person they’d try to cultivate. Being invited to meet with Geithner (along with a handful of other finance bloggers, there wasn’t any particular targeting, they just invited a big crowd and only a few were motivated enough to spend the time and money to go to DC) did nothing to domesticate me. And I don’t register as being a meaningful commentator outside finance.
2. The report NPR referred to is based on German intel. I ran it by one of my buddies who said German intel is completely unreliable, it’s basically how the Mossad launders their propaganda into the US and European media (weirdly, I am ALSO told the Israelis aren’t up for this attack, there’s a lot of opposition to it, for reasons I haven’t had time to have explained to me).
And if Kerry really wanted a diplomatic solution. why was his initial reflex to dismiss the Russian proposal? He and Rice were shooting at it until Obama signaled willingness to consider it.
The lead piece in Politico the evening Obama blinked was a clear PR plant to try to rewrite Kerry’s history on this issue. You forget this Admin has a history of doing that. Matt Taibbi even caught them revising old press released to doctor figures to create the impression they hadn’t told egregious lies in the past.
This post and the comments here are brilliant.
We must remember that this was the White House team that managed and sold the Libyan War. Yes, Syria was conducted by the second team but the coach was the same. What changed? First, Hezbollah, Iran and Russia are major powers. The religious non-state Shiite collective fought Israel to a standstill. WWIII was a clear possibility if Russia, Syria’s ally, got involved. For years, despite neo conservative bluster, rational persons recognized that bombing Iran and the resulting closure of the Straits of Hormuz to oil shipments would crash the world economy. What changed in 2013 is that Americans recognized that bombing Syria in support of Al Qaeda was a very crazy idea that would likely escalate. The Washington DC/media propaganda campaign fell flat on its face.
It does appear that the USA is still a democracy if we can postpone the Syrian campaign indefinitely.
I suspect that Russia squelched Obama’s war-lust, not democracy. Obama scoffs at that. OTOH, Russia has recently built up a significant naval presence in the Med Sea, and Putin’s quite forceful Op-Ed in the NY Times is undoubtedly a mild version of his cautions behind the scenes:
A Plea for Caution From Russia (NYT)
That and Yves’ point above that “Israelis aren’t up for this attack” probably explains the unusually tepid war-lust in the US Knesset. When AIPAC flogs a war, generally 97% of Congress snaps to attention and salutes. I doubt that democracy had much at all to do with delaying this war.
I read the Putin article right after reading an article about the “growing” list of countries backing the US position.
I am thinking that maybe some of those nations backing the US decision are really wanting us to get mired in enough messes to bring us DOWN finally.
Very interesting global politics going on, I’d say!!!!
Actually, Kerry can leave government any time he wishes on the pretext of his wife’s health.
So, as face-saving goes, he’s covered.
Whether Kerry’s suggestion that Syria dispense with its chemical weapons was an embarrassing gaffe or a carefully crafted ploy to get Obama off the hook, isn’t nearly as interesting as the new situation the US now finds itself in. There is no way Assad can carry through with his offer without fully opening his country to an international team of inspectors. Because there is no way Obama or anyone else is going to take him at his word.
Remind you of anything?
This is very close to the situation that led us to all-out war with Iraq. Saddam began by insisting that he did not have “weapons of mass destruction,” then after much wrangling, offered to allow inspectors access to critical sites, then seemed to be playing games with the inspectors, which ultimately led to the fiasco with which we are all too familiar.
How can it be any different with Syria? Assad will initially offer “full cooperation,” but clearly there is no way he’s going to allow inspectors full access to anything and everything. Saddam balked at that and so will Assad. Add to that the fact that Syria is now engaged in a major civil war — so how can he possibly ensure the safety of the inspectors even if he wanted them there?
Once it becomes clear that no meaningful process of inspection is possible, Obama will suddenly wake up to the fact that he is right back where he started. Only in the meantime, with all the dickering over inspector access, accusations back and forth regarding the playing of games, renigging on the original agreement, etc., things will have accelerated roughly to the point they’d reached on the eve of our Iraq debacle, and we will be at the brink of an equally foolhardy all-out war with Syria.
It would be so nice if someone could figure out a simple and safe way for Syria to divest itself of its chemical weapons, as per Kerry’s monumentally naive suggestion — and Putin’s equally naive (or perhaps deliberately mischievous?) acquiescence.
Some may be greatly alarmed over this ominous development. I prefer to be amused.
Probably not a good analogy at all to the situation that obtained in Iraq. Assad is engaged in a serious civil war with heavy involvement by outsiders – US, Britain, France, Turkey, certainly the Wahabist assholes of the Gulf States who have thoughtfully provided a bunch of Islamist Salafist murderers to dominate the opposition forces – and his ability to play coy about getting with the program is not that of Saddam, who still had a pretty strong hand on the reins in Iraq. I think that President Assad will not find it at all advantageous to say no to an idea advanced by his most effective ally, the Russians.
This particularly in light of the fact that Obama and his allies in the War Party still are jonesin’ for an excuse – any excuse – to go to war.
Won’t war make all notions of Republican obstruction on the debt ceiling untenable? Just askin’, folks.
Great points, docg, but I ran through the same line of thinking and came to the opposite conclusion. In Iraq’s case there were no nukes to be found, so the accusations that Saddam was insufficiently forthcoming were equally comic and tragic- you can’t disprove a fiction. In the Syrian case, that problem remains because no matter how many weapons Assad presents, it’s easy enough for the US to assert more remain hidden. However, the antecedent claim that I can’t help but think will be instrumental to that conclusion- namely that Assad will obstruct international weapons inspectors- won’t be accepted with so little scrutiny for several reasons.
First, there is obviously far greater skepticism of this adminstration’s case for war due to the extraordinary calamity Iraq became. Parenthetically, that might be a greater boon to humananity than Saddam’s displacement: impeding another few wars of choice in the next few decades until memories degrade.
Second, Syria is far less internationally isolated. Russia, China, et al. will have some influence in the composition and likely activity of whatever team is finally assembled. It’s tautological but might bear reconsidering that any inspection taken under the aegis of the UN will by definition mitigate US prerogatives in the action. I don’t think that will materially change the course of inspections, but it makes anyone more receptive to surveillance when they have some confidence in the parties directing/composing it.
Third, Iraq wasn’t engaged in outright civil war. What that implies to me, is that Saddam had certain equities which would plausibly be preserved by keeping out international forces and frustrating inspection teams. In this case, the larger the international presence, the less opposition forces can intervene in a given area. The intelligence a couple hundred bodies could compile won’t turn the tide in the existing civil war or the outcome in a prospective US/Syria conflict, so Assad shouldn’t be unduly worried about the inevitable insertion of spies amongst inspection teams.
In other words, why wouldn’t Assad offer a tremendous degree of latitude to inspectors? He is threatened far more from without than from within, and the materials in question aren’t really in dispute. His interests are probably aided by opposition attacks on inspection teams, which seem to me more likely than not to occur, given the variety and poor organization of the forces arrayed against him. How can he be criticized on the world stage for Al-Nusra or the FSA attacking a contingent containing inspectors?
I agree entirely that inspections and disarmament process as broadly conceived is impossible. The question is why popular opinion will be swayed in the international hawks’ camp’s favor at it’s inevitable failure. In Iraq, despite the absence of actual nuclear weapons, there were at least fairly credible arguments for why Saddam would interfere. In fact, I think that was by design: it’s not implausible that some elements in the Bush administration didn’t believe the WMD fictions yet foresaw inevitable resistance toward an inspection regime would have the desired effect on international opinion. This time, not so much.
What am I missing? My underlying assumption is that the the Obama administration will not proceed with unilateral strikes if the inspection process makes a military option even more unpopular with the relevant constituencies. Is that naive as well?
It seems more likely that this is a stealth justification to get US boots on the ground because US and Russian forces are the only groups publicly acknowledged to have mobile chemical decomissioning services, and we both know we won’t leave it Russia alone.
To be blunt the Arms Inspection regime in Iraq worked really well–no WMDs just as Scott Ritter more or less said–he said even he was surprised that the gov’t was 100% wrong. In fact Ritter said that 99% of the arms were accounted for certain. But he was airbrushed from history (Scott who?).
Iraq fought the regime all the way and it worked anyway. Assad wants to cooperate and the Russians will be forceful. The inspections and control of CW will work unless NATO or the Gulf States sabotage the effort.
I really hope you guys are right. However, regardless of whether or not inspection and chemical disarmament could actually succeed as far as that particular task is concerned, the process itself would inevitably involve the US more deeply in the Syrian civil war, with the concomitant risk of mission creep. Now the question is whether or not Assad is responsible for the chemical attack, but as the mission proceeds, the inspectors themselves may well come under fire, and then there will be a debate over who is responsible for THAT. As I see it, this process, while commendable on its own merits, is going to be extremely risky for both sides, with a palpable danger of further escalation.
I think the simplest answer and probably the correct one is:
-Obama can’t be wrong.
-If Kerry was a bad choice, Obama would be wrong. Remember the Daschle nomination? Me neither!
-Obama can’t fire Kerry because Kerry is merely carrying out Obama’s wishes and to fire him would destroy Obama’s image of himself.
Maybe Kerry will retire to spend more time with his wife, but if he is fired too soon, it will undercut the Obot’s desperate lies about 853rd dimensional chess.
It was clear to me this was a totally loser for Obama when NPR let anti-war people on – despite, as I recall, one of the hosts being incredulous that there wasn’t mass support for this in congress and elsewhere.
The Syrians are already walking this back: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/11/un-resolution-talks-syria-chemical-arms_n_3906038.html It’s not over.
I think it was yesterday I heard a soundbite from a House hearing when one of the critters almost literally called Kerry a jerk and openly dissed him. Kerry just sounded pathetic.
Kerry has been in the Senate a long time but he was always the “junior Senator” to Kennedy so he never took the lead on much of anything for most of his career. Kerry is clearly not leadership material.
I kind of thought that Kerry’s remarks were planned from the G20 meeting. While the leaders eat and do photo ops, the ministers and their staffs plan how to get out of this.
Is it possible that the plan at the time was for Kerry to ‘spontaneously’ demand that “every single bit of his chemical weapon” (yeah, he really is bad with words) be handed over, then the Russians would approach the Syrians, Syrians acquiesce, etc. Everybody saves face, no bombs dropped, Putin wins, Obama loses a little, Kerry falls on his sword.
Is it possible that the President had this outcome mind all along? I suppose but if he is that great thinker consider why he did this:
-many people who were former supporters of both Obama and the Democrats will never believe that argument. Ever.
-leaving both Cameron and Hollande out to dry will destroy any future attempts at international coalition building. Did Cameron embarrass himself willing? I don’t think so.
-removing chemical weapons? Really? Is that why we have been supporting a group allied Al Qaeda and handing out weapons and training. Didn’t we put the chemical weapon stockpiles at risk?
-Did he intend to reinvigorate the Republican Party?
-Who is going to pay for both the continued build up and operational readiness as well as the disarmament in an era where U.S. companies aren’t so welcome and might be election killers? Was that part of the plan?
-Lets pretend Assad did give the order to use chemical weapons in response to the ongoing civil war. What consequences should 853rd dimensional chess face for encouraging the rebels and supporting them putting Assad in a position where he may have used chemical weapons two years after large scale violence started? Are the 100,000 dead people part of Obama’s plan?
-Even if Kerry’s gaffe was a last minute thought process, why hasn’t Obama applied his extraordinary gifts to the Syrian crisis earlier? How is Libya going? Was attacking and overthrowing a regime which disarmed without the threat of violence part of the plan?
Do you see why I’m just not clever enough to grasp this brilliant 853rd dimensional plan or why the argument for a secret plan of Obama’s to achieve the Russian overture for peace is absurd?
As a final point, wouldn’t doubts about Obama’s brilliant plans be part of the plan? Think about it. Maybe Obama wants to have a multi-polar world and pumping up Putin on the world stage is all part of the plan.
I watched a few minutes of the first Christopher Reeves movie this Summer. I haven’t seen it a long time, but there is a scene where Luthor is describing his plan to stop Superman. His squeeze pointed out Superman is invulnerable. Luthor scoffs and goes on some rant about radioactive bits of Superman’s homeworld reaching Earth, selects the right book with the location of Kryptonite on Earth off his library, and opens to the right page from memory.
Luthor explained he was so smart no other human could conceive of this connection and couldn’t explain to such children. Its a comic book character, so its absurd but makes for a fun story. At this point, I realized Obots think Barack Obama is Lex Luthor but good. If Obama is Luthor, have the Obots realized they are Ned Beatty?
I happened to be at the protest in April 1971 organized by Ron Kovic and the Vietnam Vets Against the War, during which purportedly Lt. John Kerry discarded his medals. I listened to his speech before Congress a bit later. With those acts, John Kerry earned my respect. I can’t yet remove that frame from my perceptions of the man, so allow me to give a weak rebuttal to your argument of incompetence. How likely was it that Vladimir Putin would convince Bashar al-Assad to give up his weapons absent Kerry’s gaffe before Congress? You are responding to this as if America’s loss of prestige is a big deal. It isn’t. Sure, this little play puts Russia in the driver’s seat and emasculates the U.S. I happen to think that this is a wonderful outcome. The U.S. is a belligerent, hypocritical, and very powerful nation that badly needs to be cowed – to turn down the volume. I dearly hope that Secretary Kerry continues to diminish the U.S.’s internal perception of its international prestige. That might reduce its recklessness with human life. The more the high and mighty are diminished, the greater the potential for peace. John Kerry for President in 2016!!! OK, that last statement was sarcasm, the rest is not. I am not merely ready, I am anxious for the U.S. to stand down as the globe’s moral leader – it simply is not up to the task. NO MORE WAR.
Incredible piece of drivel, this aricle. I hate to think that Yves Smith would spend her night writing this piece of rubbish.
Please tell us more what you think and who pays you to do so.
You’re entitled to your opinion, but if you want to convince others of it you’re going to need to provide a supporting argument.
So, what about the article strikes you as wrong, and why? Bonus points for reasoned argument based on evidence and logic. Points off for invective.
agree kaj! WE MUST SAVE THE RICH
On Friday, Rohani, Putin, and Xi meet at the SCO to talk about how to tie the US government in more knots. When they’re through, then the irrelevant chumps in DC can decide which one takes the bullet for their disgraceful rout.
So much credibility lost by the administration.
John Kerry below absolute zero.
Nancy Pelosi at zero.
Susan Rice near zero.
Samantha Power down low.
Obama was already seen as uncool chasing Snowden and Miranda. He’s now seen as off the rails. I don’t rate his credibility too much lower because military power has its own credibility.
Time to take the red button away ?
May be this is just a coincidence. From August 21 2013 to Sept 11 2013 21 days like November 1 1963 to Nov 22 1963 when the Diem brothers were assassinated. Speculators
You can look at this most any way, but the bottom line is that it proves that Obama was not and is not qualified to be chief executive.
He was and is a professional “rabble rouser” much like a “carnival barker”.
You may look at this in many ways. The fact is it proves that Obama was not and is not qualified to be chief executive.
He is a professional “rabble rouser” a ” carnival barker”
Should Be.in front of a Girlie show touting the naked girls.