In a press conference yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry responded to a question about what could be done to avoid a U.S. attack on Syria by laying out specific measures that could be taken.
Bashar al-Assad “could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week,” Kerry explained. If that happened, the Obama administration would consider rescinding its promise to attack.
Russia, Syria’s closest ally, was listening. Early Monday, they announced they would, according to Reuters, “urge Syria to put its chemical weapons arsenal under international control if this would avert military strikes.”
This was a real chance at using diplomacy to stave off U.S. intervention that is almost universally opposed and would very likely worsen the humanitarian situation in Syria without any additional utility.
As soon as Russia made this announcement, Kerry took back his comments, denying they were a serious proposal and shooting down the first substantive diplomatic overture in the Syrian civil war in years.
According to Kerry’s spokeswoman, he was “making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons he has denied he used.” Assad “cannot be trusted to turn over chemical weapons,” she added, despite Russian assurances.
And that’s how you know the Obama administration is hell bent on war, determined to spurn every peaceful resolution and plea to back off on plans to bomb Syria.
Update: Syria’s Foreign Minister welcomed Russia’s proposal to place its chemical weapons under international control if it would “prevent American aggression.”
Update II: Via the AP’s Matt Lee: “The State Department said Monday it would take a “hard look” at a proposal for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons to international control to avoid a military strike, but voiced skepticism that Syria would carry out such a plan.”