Kerry: We Totally Screwed Up on Syria, But Plan B Will So Work

Apropos last night’s post on how American fecklessness in Syria should lead the Ukrainian opposition to be very skeptical about any promises of American support, according to several reports out today Kerry delivered a damning assessment of the state of administration policy-his policy, Obama’s policy-in the tormented Arab country:

Two prominent Republican senators say that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told them — along with 13 other members of a bipartisan congressional delegation — that President Barack Obama’s administration is in need of a new, more assertive, Syria policy; that al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria pose a direct terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland; that Russia is arming the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and is generally subverting chances for a peaceful settlement; that Assad is violating his promise to expeditiously part with his massive stores of chemical weapons; and that, in Kerry’s view, it may be time to consider more dramatic arming of moderate Syrian rebel factions.

Maybe Kerry has gone to a 12 Step Program, Foreign Policy Incompetents Anonymous, and has moved beyond the denial stage.  For this assessment is all true.  And it is all the predictable result of Obama’s-and Kerry’s-fecklessness.  So of course we should have every confidence in the administration’s ability to formulate and implement a non-feckless policy based on reality, rather than on fantasy and an extreme reluctance to get involved any more deeply in Syria.

Kerry supposedly asked the senators whether there would be support in Congress for a more robust policy.

There’s an easy answer to that: NO!  Even those senators and representatives who in principle would support such a policy will never do so given Obama’s behavior in August and September.  Remember how Kerry built the case for US intervention, going so far as to compare Assad to the Nazis,  but then Obama seized at the first opportunity to bug out.  After that performance, no member of Congress is going to put his or her neck on the line for Obama, especially given that (a) they have to know Obama is not committed to robust action, and will be looking for a way out, and (b) the Gates memoir makes it plain how Obama will engage in half-hearted military efforts for cynical political reasons.  Oh, and (c): the administration has acted so incompetently (and not just in Syria) that any sentient being would conclude that it cannot be relied on to do any better in the future.  Once burned, twice shy.

No.  No sane member of Congress will take risks for a feckless, cynical, and incompetent administration.  Ukrainian patriots shouldn’t do so either.

About Craig Pirrong 228 Articles

Affiliation: University of Houston

Dr Pirrong is Professor of Finance, and Energy Markets Director for the Global Energy Management Institute at the Bauer College of Business of the University of Houston. He was previously Watson Family Professor of Commodity and Financial Risk Management at Oklahoma State University, and a faculty member at the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, and Washington University.

Professor Pirrong's research focuses on the organization of financial exchanges, derivatives clearing, competition between exchanges, commodity markets, derivatives market manipulation, the relation between market fundamentals and commodity price dynamics, and the implications of this relation for the pricing of commodity derivatives. He has published 30 articles in professional publications, is the author of three books, and has consulted widely, primarily on commodity and market manipulation-related issues.

He holds a Ph.D. in business economics from the University of Chicago.

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