Even Kerry’s “victories” have been wrapped in defeat. Hours after he announced this week that an agreement with Hamid Karzai had been “finalized” to allow a US military presence to remain in Afghanistan after most troops withdraw in 2014, Karzai told his loya jirga that no such deal will be signed by him until after the upcoming Afghan presidential election next year, by which time preparations for a residual garrison will need to have been made already.
Still, the collapsing scenery isn’t always Kerry’s fault given how poorly he’s been treated by his boss. President Obama evidently “marveled” at the secretary’s ability to withstand seven hours of Benjamin Netanyahu in one sitting but didn’t bother to include him in the Oval Office meeting in which Obama decided to defer airstrikes on Assad’s regime to Congress. And this after Kerry delivered two excellent Churchillian war speeches on Syria. The Times says that both men, now jointly presiding over the angering and alienating of seemingly every US ally in the world, actually helped each other at the expense of foreign policy: “[Kerry’s] Syria diplomacy, while face-saving for Mr. Obama, has left the United States woefully short of its stated goal of persuading Bashar al-Assad to yield power.”
In fact, that diplomacy abased Obama, gave Putin an unnecessary victory, and led to Assad’s ignominious re-legitimatization by the United States, which in turn has allowed the regime to regain more strategic territory and attend the so-called Geneva II peace conference – another half-baked Kerry confection – in a position of greater strength than a similarly-abased opposition. Now comes news that no state wants to take possession and destroy Syria’s chemical stockpiles, assuming they can safely be transported out of the country. So the new bright idea is to destroy them at sea aboard a barge, a process that is “unprecedented” given the size of these stockpiles and which will lead to dumping of run-off materials into some poor body of water. (The Allies dumped Nazi chemical weapons and agents into the Baltic Sea after World War II; today, the shores of Poland face an ecological calamity some environmental scientists say may outdo Chernobyl.)