When U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the reported chemical weapons attacks in Syria this week, it was like watching a bad Stanley Kubrick movie cross between "Dr. Strangelove" and "Spartacus." As in, "I, Spartacus, would like to claim full responsibility for the battles and woes in everyone's backyard."
This self-sacrificial impetus to take on all the world's ills needs to stop, particularly when the crisis of conscience belongs in someone else's dacha.
Syria isn't America's problem to fix -- it's Russia's. So why is the Obama administration refusing to say this? It's unfathomable that Kerry didn't even mention Russia and its regional and moral responsibilities during his entire press conference statement. It would have been the perfect opportunity for Kerry to say, "Saddle up, Vlad. You've got some trouble in your town, Sheriff."
The only thing Kerry's press conference was good for was generating hot air. That likely fits with what I've contended is America's overall objective in Syria: to allow the situation to grind on with various entities hostile to American and Western interests knocking each other out. Still, why blow an opportunity to make Russia pull its weight and, in doing so, take a load off your own plate?
Historically and militarily, Syria clearly falls into Russia's sphere of influence. The Russians are the ones selling weapons to Assad and nuclear plants to Iran -- the two primary entities neck-deep in fighting against rebel forces. And the longer the Syrian mess drags on, the greater the risk of regional al-Qaeda factions taking a little road trip to join their Chechen Islamist brothers in crashing the Sochi Olympics early next year - and not to watch the hockey or bobsledding. America's message right now shouldn't be directed at Assad, but rather at the other self-declared adult in the room: Russia.
Instead, America is taking a terrible misstep by implying that it's responsible, along with its allies, for the outcome of that civil war -- either via action or lack thereof. Team Obama is way off-message, and it's time to place the Syrian burden on its rightful back -- Russian President Vladimir Putin's oft-shirtless one. What's the point of Putin constantly flashing the biceps and fluffing up the proles with judo demonstrations unless you're going to use all that muscle on a dictator or two?
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