SYRIA’S SUFFERING CONTINUES
The role of U.S. Secretary of State is to be the President’s chief foreign affairs adviser and to conduct negotiations relating to U.S. foreign affairs. It is distinctly not a decision making role. However, on September 9th, John Kerry was asked by a reporter if a strike in Syria (to stop the Assad regime) could be prevented if Bashir al-Assad handed over all chemical weapons to which he answered ‘Yes.’
His off-the-cuff reply is in the form of a decision not advice. To say the former Presidential candidate overstepped his advisory role is an understatement. When questioned by Congress last week, Mr. Kerry insisted this was decided by the President in a previous meeting but that is not the case. Under live media coverage, a spontaneous question led a man who once aspired to the highest office to make a very big decision.
What affect has this gaffe had? Mr. Assad continues to gas to death innocent children but in smaller quantities hoping not to draw international scrutiny (which has thus far been successful). He has also begun cutting off medical supplies to war-torn regions leaving those maimed in the conflict to suffer. Physicians in Aleppo have had to amputate limbs that would otherwise be saved because of supply shortages. Hospital staff now must hit patients over the head with lead bars to knock them unconscious during surgery because there is no anesthesia.
Syria’s Parliament announced June 3rd as the date of the new Presidential elections (with May 28th the vote for those outside Syria). These elections are a farce. Syrian legislation requires any Presidential candidate to have lived within the country for the past 10 years. This means that most of Mr. Assad’s opponents, who have been forced to leave Syria because of oppression, are unable to participate in the election. Further, the elections will be monitored by the Assad government with looming threat of chlorine gas for those constituents not favorable to the regime. Chlorine gas is not one of the chemical weapons declared by Mr. Assad in his agreement brokered by Russia to handover chemical weapons.
All the suffering endured by innocent victims of the Assad regime continues with no end in sight while Mr. Kerry turns his focus to the Ukraine and Israel.
Had Mr. Kerry maintained his role as adviser to the President instead of key decision maker, the airstrike would have taken out the runways and chemical weapons stockpiles while simultaneously crippling the Assad government enabling Syria’s opposition movement to handle the situation in a more robust manner.