This ain’t exactly a Friday night document dump. Yesterday, even before the White House finally acknowledged publicly that their program to train Syrian rebels was an embarrassing failure, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) put it and the overall plan for Syria in stronger, more direct terms. Kaine tells Virginia radio host John Fredericks that the entire strategy is “a joke”:
“In Syria, the strategy’s a joke,” he said on “The John Fredericks Show” broadcasting from Chesapeake, Va.
“The idea that you can train 30 people and put them in a civil war featuring millions and have them be effective is highly fanciful,” said Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“You could tell they were Sisyphus trying to roll the boulder up the hill.” …
He said Friday that the United States shares blame with other world powers for failing to address Syria, where a long-running civil war has spurred a mass migration from the country.
“All of this is because the nations of the West haven’t come up with a real strategy about what to do with respect to Syria [and] the U.S. is right there on the fault list with everybody else,” Kaine said.
Kaine faults Congress for not passing an authorization to use military force against ISIS in Syria, but we’ve got an AUMF that covers Iraq and we’re not doing anything there either. Kaine then argues that changing from defense of US interests in Irbil to going on offense against ISIS would historically require a positive authorization from Capitol Hill, but again, we have a 2002 AUMF that would cover offensive operations in Iraq. Also, Kaine fails to explain how Obama managed to go on offense against Moammar Qaddafi in Libya in 2011 without Congress’ authorization but is supposedly hamstrung against ISIS. Go figure.
Meanwhile, Kaine’s colleague Bob Corker (R-TN) wants to subpoena John Kerry to get some explanation of exactly what the Obama administration’s strategy is:
Sen. Bob Corker is considering issuing a subpoena for Secretary of State John Kerry, reflecting growing frustration among Republicans that Kerry is stonewalling the panel in an effort to avoid testifying about the Syrian civil war.
Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations committee, also alleges the State Department isn’t being truthful about Kerry’s schedule to avoid a panel appearance.
Corker (R-Tenn.) has been trying to secure a Kerry visit to discuss the brutal Syrian civil war for more than a week, sources said, but the chairman now claims that Kerry won’t return his phone calls, wants to send “underlings” to testify in his stead and is sending Congress signals that he is out of town when he is not.
Now, Corker says he’s mulling more serious action.
“I don’t know what steps to take, subpoenaing a secretary of state is certainly an extraordinary step and one that needs to be thought about,” Corker said at an unrelated committee business meeting on Thursday. “I don’t know what to do when you have the biggest crisis, people flooding into Europe, 100 percent change taking place on the ground.”
Right now, the strategy looks like a reverse Teddy Roosevelt — speak loudly and carry a twig. It may be a joke, as Kaine says, but no one’s laughing. At least not in the US or Europe, anyway. In Moscow, who knows?