Kerry tells Capitol Hill that Obama’s Syria policies have failed

posted at 12:01 pm on February 3, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Josh Rogin gets this bombshell from two of the Senators in the closed-door meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry, who briefed them and thirteen other members of Congress on progress in Syria. In short, it doesn’t exist. The chemical-weapons inspection regime set up by Russia to protect Bashar al-Assad is nothing short of a joke, and the peace talks are going exactly where everyone else knew they would … nowhere. Kerry told his former colleagues that he has lost faith in Obama’s policies, and now the US must intervene to stop Syria from being taken over by radical Sunni terror networks:

Secretary of State John Kerry has lost faith in his own administration’s Syria policy, he told fifteen U.S. Congressmen in a private, off-the-record meeting, according to two of the senators who were in the room.

Kerry also said he believes the regime of Bashar al Assad is failing to uphold its promise to give up its chemical weapons according to schedule; that the Russians are not being helpful in solving the Syrian civil war; and that the Geneva 2 peace talks that he helped organize are not succeeding. But according to the senators, Kerry now wants to arm Syria’s rebels—in part, to block the local al Qaeda affiliates who have designs on attacking the U.S. (Kerry’s spokesperson denied that he now wants to supply weapons, but did not dispute the overall tenor of the conversation.)

“[Kerry] acknowledged that the chemical weapons [plan] is being slow rolled, the Russians continue to supply arms, we are at a point now where we are going to have to change our strategy,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, who attended Kerr’s briefing with lawmakers on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. “He openly talked about supporting arming the rebels. He openly talked about forming a coalition against al Qaeda because it’s a direct threat.”

Kerry’s private remarks were a stark departure from the public message he and other top Obama administration officials repeatedly have given in public. Shortly after the meeting ended, Sens. Graham and John McCain described the meeting to The Daily Beast, The Washington Post, and Bloomberg News. Given newly-released intelligence on the growing al Qaeda presence in Syria, as well as shocking new evidence of Syrian human rights atrocities, the senators said they agreed with Kerry that the time had come for the United States to drastically alter its approach to the Syrian civil war.

How drastically? It depends on whom one asks. McCain and Graham said that Kerry wants to go forward on arming the rebels, but the State Department said that they heard what they wanted to hear, and not what Kerry was actually telling them:

Kerry’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Psaki, called it a “mischaracterization.” …

Psaki, who attended the meeting, said Kerry did not raise the prospect of lethal assistance for the rebels. “This is a case of members projecting what they want to hear and not stating the accurate facts of what was discussed,” she said.

Fred Hiatt reminds readers at the Washington Post that Kerry’s impulses have been more in line with McCain and Graham than Barack Obama all along, though:

In fact, more than a year ago Kerry openly advocated changing the dynamics in Syria so that dictator Bashar al-Assad would have an incentive to negotiate. But the White House vetoed any serious training or arming of the rebels. That left Kerry beseeching Russia to persuade Assad to make concessions even as the dictator was gaining on the battlefield. Not surprisingly, that hasn’t worked.

Once again, we’re back at the intervention point against al-Qaeda in Syria, even though the situation appears more dire in Iraq. Furthermore, we’d be intervening into a civil war within a civil war in Syria in order to support the supposedly more moderate native opposition, even though they’re fading into irrelevancy. Why not attack al-Qaeda in Iraq in support of a government with much closer ties to the US? That would force AQ back into that front and take some of the pressure off of the native rebels in Syria, and force AQ into a straight-up fight with potentially much less confusion between groups on the battlefield.

The bigger news here, though, is that there appears to be a split on foreign policy in the Obama administration, although the size of the split may be difficult to size up. Obama himself wanted an intervention in Syria when his hand was forced on the chemical-weapons “red line,” but not on the scale demanded by McCain and Graham. Either way, this looks very similar to the Western intervention in Libya, where arms shipments (mostly but barely covert) was preceded by a bombing campaign against the regime in service to a coup d’etat. That left a huge vacuum in which the radical Islamists could exploit the failed-state environment and export their jihad into Mali and, er, Syria too.

How much distance is there really between Kerry and Obama now? I’d doubt that it’s much, but the fact that Kerry is talking about Obama’s policy failures in Syria is bad enough for the administration.


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If O’s failing and you know it, clap your hands.

*clap* *clap*

Christien on February 3, 2014 at 12:03 PM

So even Kerry has started to figure it out. The President has never been wrong, of course, so it’s probably safe to assume the press will shortly assure us Democrats have always been pro-GWOT.

MTF on February 3, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Go away, Lurch, go away, go away, go away…

OmahaConservative on February 3, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Oh goody, finally a war the Democrat can get behind.

Cindy Munford on February 3, 2014 at 12:05 PM

I wouldn’t put it past Kerry to come up with some astounding plan to try and launch his next presidential campaign.

Cindy Munford on February 3, 2014 at 12:06 PM

Dog Eater can’t send weapons to Syria, his Nobel Prize certificate states that quite clearly.

Bishop on February 3, 2014 at 12:07 PM

No more Americans need to die to save Muslims……
Let the Muslims tear up each other.

redguy on February 3, 2014 at 12:07 PM

I bet Kerry falls for the old “Hey buddy, could you make some change for me? I need two tens for a five,” trick.

Flange on February 3, 2014 at 12:07 PM

This too will be blamed on conservatives. Obviously it is not Obama’s ploicies that have failed, it is conservatives who caused the policies to not work.

Skwor on February 3, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Well, slap my butt and call me ‘Shirley’.

tree hugging sister on February 3, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Happy Birthday OC :)

cmsinaz on February 3, 2014 at 12:11 PM

I bet Lurch liked the Axe body spray “Make Love, Not War” SB ad that equated North Korea, Iran, and U.S. GIs in Vietnam.

Christien on February 3, 2014 at 12:11 PM

Skwor on February 3, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Yep, Obama knew that he shouldn’t have follow W’s blueprint for this but that Gates guy and all those yucky military folks made him. He should have gone with his own instincts and bowed more.

Cindy Munford on February 3, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Skwor on February 3, 2014 at 12:08 PM

ding ding ding….

————-
love how the lsm is going beserk that christie may have lied but have no problems with obama….

cmsinaz on February 3, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Did Valerie Jarrett achieve her goals in the region?

Murphy9 on February 3, 2014 at 12:13 PM

So… the policy of “ignore them and maybe they’ll go away” hasn’t really panned out. Whodathunkit?

BKeyser on February 3, 2014 at 12:13 PM

So the Obama Cairo speech didn’t work???

Electrongod on February 3, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Fox News’ fault. Of course the plan is HRC’s as well.

rjoco1 on February 3, 2014 at 12:16 PM

The chemical-weapons inspection regime set up by Russia to protect Bashar al-Assad is nothing short of a joke, and the peace talks are going exactly where everyone else knew they would … nowhere.

I’m shocked!!

TarheelBen on February 3, 2014 at 12:21 PM

Hard pivot to Obamacare?

oldroy on February 3, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Hard pivot to Obamacare?

oldroy on February 3, 2014 at 12:22 PM

al QaedaCare

Same love for this Country…

Electrongod on February 3, 2014 at 12:26 PM

al QaedaCare

Same love for this Country…

Electrongod on February 3, 2014 at 12:26 PM

Freedom fighters deserve health care.

oldroy on February 3, 2014 at 12:26 PM

Word just in from the WH – “please be quiet and sweep this under the rug”

Tater Salad on February 3, 2014 at 12:28 PM

“We need to pass on telling the truth to see what’s in it…” – Obama

Electrongod on February 3, 2014 at 12:29 PM

The way I hear it, Kerry, is that things in Libya didn’t exactly work out too well either.

Are you seeing a pattern yet?

lynncgb on February 3, 2014 at 12:30 PM

IF IT REALLY HAPPENS AND TRANSPARENTLY, we actually did not have to fire one shot and we got a ME country to surrender chemical weapons…

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on September 9, 2013 at 1:04 PM

Chuck Schick on February 3, 2014 at 12:30 PM

Sorry, John Kerry Obama. No immunity for you!

22044 on February 3, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Syria?

The Iraq policy has failed. The Afghan policy has failed. The Poookeeestan policy has failed. The Libyan policy has failed.

But the biggest failure of all? The American policy is a dreadful failure.

rhombus on February 3, 2014 at 12:36 PM

Failure is not an option. It comes bundled in Obamanomics.

timberline on February 3, 2014 at 12:37 PM

He should have said “obama/Hillary Syria policies have failed”.

He should have said “All obama/Hillary foreign policies have failed”.

Schadenfreude on February 3, 2014 at 12:38 PM

Name one foreign policy success under obama/Hillary, or under obama/Kerry, I triple dare you.

Schadenfreude on February 3, 2014 at 12:39 PM

I didn’t need Lurch to tell me that. It was obvious right from the start that Assad understands nothing but force.

Next up: Iran not going the way we expected.

NavyMustang on February 3, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Name one foreign policy success under obama/Hillary, or under obama/Kerry, I triple dare you.

Schadenfreude on February 3, 2014 at 12:39 PM

Canada?

oldroy on February 3, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Kerry tells Capitol Hill that Obama’s Syria policies have failed

Makes sense seeing as the rest of his policies have all failed so miserably. Barky FTF!

D-fusit on February 3, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Canada?

oldroy on February 3, 2014 at 12:41 PM

They’re not happy a tall with obozo delaying the pipeline.

Flange on February 3, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Of course we have to blame this in Fox News and the “obstructionist” Republicans.And let’s not forget to blame Booooosh!!

jeffinsjvca on February 3, 2014 at 12:48 PM

It’s the best of all worlds for Obama if all goes according to plan. He gets to arm his Islamist/al Qaeda pals in Syria, maybe even send in our troops to fight along side them. It throws another squirrel out there to help Bridgegate and the other squirrels running around distract from Obamacare. It gives him a golden opportunity to deflect any GOP resistance by playing the “Why do Republicans hate our troops!” card.

And best of all, since it’s McCain and Graham out there pushing this, any troop deaths are all the fault of the Republican Party.

Gator Country on February 3, 2014 at 12:51 PM

Is that guy, the Choom Gangsta, still out there running around trying to make like he’s the “president” or something?

Give it up already, dude.

FlameWarrior on February 3, 2014 at 12:53 PM

Putins Pal.

Bmore on February 3, 2014 at 12:56 PM

Intervene in Syria and leave another vacuum like Libya? No way! Quell AQI by us going back in? No way, let the Iraq troops we trained do the job.

jake49 on February 3, 2014 at 12:57 PM

Kerry vs. Hillary.
Coming up.

albill on February 3, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Who, within the White House, authored this “failed Syrian policy” -
the American People, John, deserve names.
Then, let’s have them up on Capitol Hill defending their policy prescriptions in public before both Senate and House committees.

Another Drew on February 3, 2014 at 1:07 PM

albill on February 3, 2014 at 1:01 PM

I had a similar thought… this is beautiful for them because they can add another arrow to the quiver against Hillary… positions Lurch well and satisfies the Obame loathing of all things “Clinton.”

dpduq on February 3, 2014 at 1:08 PM

Why the Obama-Kerry split. It’s possible that Kerry, clueless tho he is, may be on our side.

petefrt on February 3, 2014 at 1:14 PM

Canada?

oldroy on February 3, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Flange already told why that is a Fail.

I assume you were kidding :)

Schadenfreude on February 3, 2014 at 1:15 PM

Canada?

Um… Keystone Pipeline?

drunyan8315 on February 3, 2014 at 1:17 PM

Gen Jack Ripper and ColWalter Kurtz are the only two who have been right on what to do with foreign policy in the last 75 years.If the wonks would use their suggestions our problems in this area would be resolved.

docflash on February 3, 2014 at 1:18 PM

Hard pivot to Obamacare?
oldroy on February 3, 2014 at 12:22 PM

al QaedaCare
Same love for this Country…

Electrongod on February 3, 2014 at 12:26 PM

If we really want to kill off AQ – sign all of them up for 0scare….

dentarthurdent on February 3, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Am I the only one to see the irony of this acknowledgement about yet another failure of Obama’s “lead from behind” appeasement strategy taking place at a security conference in MUNICH?????

kd6rxl on February 3, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Canada?
oldroy on February 3, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Have we invaded Canada yet?
I know the staff of Maxim tried a few years ago, but they got sidetracked by a crafty Canadian diversion of beer and strippers…

dentarthurdent on February 3, 2014 at 1:26 PM

Has ANY 0bumble policy actually succeeded in it’s stated purpose?

dentarthurdent on February 3, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Am I the only one to see the irony of this acknowledgement about yet another failure of Obama’s “lead from behind” appeasement strategy taking place at a security conference in MUNICH?????

kd6rxl on February 3, 2014 at 1:24 PM

No. We were just all waiting for you to catch up and didn’t want to hurt your feelings.

oldroy on February 3, 2014 at 1:27 PM

I know the staff of Maxim tried a few years ago, but they got sidetracked by a crafty Canadian diversion of beer and strippers the Windsor Ballet…

dentarthurdent on February 3, 2014 at 1:26 PM

It’s more cultured that way.

Flange on February 3, 2014 at 1:28 PM

I wouldn’t put it past Kerry to come up with some astounding plan to try and launch his next presidential campaign.

Why the Obama-Kerry split. It’s possible that Kerry, clueless tho he is, may be on our side.

Whatever is behind this I can just about guarantee that it has nothing to do with sound foreign policy decisions that are in the best interests of the United States.

tnjeff on February 3, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Intervene and do what???

We will arm the rebels….who are Sunni…so that way Al-Qaeda (the most effective Sunni Jihadist group) won’t take over Syria. Does that make any sense to anyone? SO we will arm the group that is beheading Christians. I am sure we know who is who considering our past record on such things.

Basically the McCain-Graham plan, and the Kerry plan for that matter, is to fight both sides! Genious!

These people are stupid, beyond stupid! Al-Qaeda is fighting an Iranian proxy and we want to prevent that…

Depressing…

William Eaton on February 3, 2014 at 1:31 PM

It’s more cultured that way.

Flange on February 3, 2014 at 1:28 PM

It would be, but I actually read that particular issue of Maxim – and I celarly remember they got diverted from their invasion by beer and strippers. The Maxim staff are not exactly the types that would even go to a ballet….

I used to buy Maxim on occasion when I was traveling a lot for business and needed reading material for the plane rides.

dentarthurdent on February 3, 2014 at 1:33 PM

And now they’re asking Congress for time to let the negotiations with Iran to work! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Bibi, I’m sure you’ve got your own plans to deal with a nuclear Iran and don’t even wait for US permission to activate it.

Deano1952 on February 3, 2014 at 1:39 PM

dentarthurdent on February 3, 2014 at 1:33 PM

The Windsor Ballet is strippers and beer.

Flange on February 3, 2014 at 1:40 PM

The Windsor Ballet is strippers and beer.

Flange on February 3, 2014 at 1:40 PM

LOL.
Oh – sorry – I didn’t know that, so I didn’t really get your post I guess.
OK – now I gotcha!!!

dentarthurdent on February 3, 2014 at 1:42 PM

Look at it this way, by staying out of Syria we are now seeing Sunni Jihadist groups blowing up Hezbollah HQs.

I mean it is like a dream come true! Our two most hated enemies in the Islamic world are now slaughtering each other and bunch of old senile goofballs in congress (I still count Kerry as part of that club) are encouraging Obama, an other idiot, to dump the one thing he has done right and prevent this wet dream from becoming a reality.

Please make this nightmare end!!!

Do not stop the Iranian – Sunni jihadist throwdown….please stay out of Syria. It is like a Middle East thunderdome for Muslims to get out their aggression.

William Eaton on February 3, 2014 at 1:46 PM

OK – now I gotcha!!!

dentarthurdent on February 3, 2014 at 1:42 PM

Growing up in Detroit with the drinking age 19 in Canada, I made the trip south to Canada many times. Even took in a show or two.

Flange on February 3, 2014 at 1:47 PM

The chemical-weapons inspection regime set up by Russia to protect Bashar al-Assad is nothing short of a joke, and the peace talks are going exactly where everyone else knew they would … nowhere.

And this surprises WHO exactly?

Other than the low IQ, low info voters who support this incompetent administration.

GarandFan on February 3, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Secretary of State John Kerry has lost faith in his own administration’s Syria policy, he told fifteen U.S. Congressmen in a private, off-the-record meeting, according to two of the senators who were in the room.

Shouldn’t Obama fire Kerry after this got out? Or at least accept his resignation to spend more time with his family?

Johnnyreb on February 3, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Other than the low IQ, low info voters who support this incompetent administration.

GarandFan on February 3, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Trust, and fail to verify….

dentarthurdent on February 3, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Not a peep from verbaluce today on this thread. He was just happy that the “deal” allowed the media to give Obama a free pass on this.

blink on February 3, 2014 at 1:58 PM

verbaloon is having its getalife handed to it in the O’Reilly O’bama interview thread.

Oh, and ditch-digger is feebly trying to help, with no success.

Del Dolemonte on February 3, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Did Valerie Jarrett achieve her goals in the region?

Murphy9 on February 3, 2014 at 12:13 PM

Just about..

Key West Reader on February 3, 2014 at 3:41 PM

blink on February 3, 2014 at 1:51 PM

I remember him. Good times…

I especially liked this one you quoted:

How in this case Obama damaged our credibility? He said that the goal of the military strike is to deter and degrade Assad chemical weapons capabilities… Now without a single missile fired by our military not only we deterred and degraded Assad chemical weapons but he gave them up entirely for destruction… It has nothing to do with Obama… It has to do with the incredible power of the US military and their mere threat is able to do this to Assad… That is very good for our credibility…

mnjg on September 9, 2013 at 2:17 PM

That guy had some serious confusion about the English language – in particular, tenses. Or maybe it was more fundamental than that – like he didn’t understand the nature of time, and the difference between a past event and a hypothetical future event.

I suppose it could be that he just did not comprehend the basic principle that human beings, and particularly ruthless dictators, do not always keep their word.

RINO in Name Only on February 3, 2014 at 5:07 PM

And the answer to all the failures: Lurch for President!

rgranger on February 3, 2014 at 5:19 PM

Kerry tells Capitol Hill that Obama’s Syria policies have failed

…at which point Obama had Kerry beheaded for even suggesting these ‘failed’ policies were ‘his’! “These are not MY policies, John…these were THE WORLD’S POLICIES!”

easyt65 on February 3, 2014 at 6:45 PM

There he goes again, acting like a senator, taking shots from the sidelines. But as Secretary of State he’s responsible for his own failed policy. I guess it wasn’t the fun job he hoped it would be.

His hope has failed, to paraphrase.

virgo on February 4, 2014 at 3:34 AM