In London, John Kerry Promotes World’s Smallest Syrian Whirlwind

9 September 2013

12:25 PM

9 September 2013

12:25 PM

There’s little need for people opposed to launching any kind of attack on Syria to expend much energy doing so when those tasked with making the case for reminding Bashar al-Assad that using chemical weapons is not something the international community can or will ignore are making such a bloody hash of the job.

Here, for instance, is John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, reminding us all that the Americans really don’t want to be taking action at all. They’ve been pushed into doing so, the result of both the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons (why assume Assad’s people are clever enough not to use them?) and by President Barack Obama’s rhetoric about red lines and so on. But this is not where this American president would really like to be.

Not that Obama is a pacifist or isolationist (neither party enjoying much popularity in Washington) but you’ll remember he was never against all wars, only opposed to dumb ones.

So god knows what he thinks of his Secretary of State today. Kerry, you see, has today promised that the attack on Syria will be “unbelievably small”. That will learn the Syrian despot, right enough.


Now of course you know what Kerry was trying to do. Plenty of people suspect any action in Syria risks being Iraq all over again and it doesn’t matter a damn that you tell them no-one has plans for the 101st Airborne to drop in to Aleppo. So in the fact of so much suspicion and in a climate lacking, shall we say, trust you can understand why Kerry and Obama want to stress the limited nature of their planned punitive raid.

But since the purpose of the raid is – and no-one sensible disputes this, I think – just to send a message to Assad and other tyrants that the use of chemical weapons is something up with which the international community will not put it makes very little sense to send a message that’s so unbelievably small neither Assad nor his counterparts elsewhere will feel the need to read or otherwise get it. And if the message is not received it has not, in this instance, been sent either.

And since, moreover, the case for military action also rests upon the sense that American (and western) credibility is on the line vis a vis Syria (and all future foreign entanglements) it seems foolish to make a virtue out of the fact that this action is actually going to be, as Kerry puts it, unbelievably small. What price credibility then?

This is also, I would and will add, a reminder that the US has still not quite mastered diplomacy in the internet age. Kerry, of course, was wanting to reassure anxious allies that the US is not going to go mental re: Syria. But, of course, what he says here is also heard in Syria. Where the US wants to send the message that actually it is prepared to go mental – or at least a little bit mental – in pursuit of the international community’s objectives. Tailoring your message to your audience is much more difficult these days. Another reason for talking less, too.



Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Acharn0

    They want to send a message, they should just use Western Union.

  • Jez

    So small ‘It will all be over by Christmas…’

  • Uncle Brian

    The link you provide to the “unbelievably small” quote is to the Guardian, where the damaging words are withheld from readers until they reach the tenth paragraph. Shurely the Grauniad wouldn’t be trying to help the bumbling John Kerry cover up his shameful secret?

    • Augustus

      Perhaps that’s not all they’re covering up considering this ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’.

  • mrsjosephinehydehartley

    I don’t really think any military attack, no matter how well and surgically it gets managed , can be unbelievably small. What does that mean in practice?..will the aggressors ask the ordinary members of the public in a specified area to kindly move out of the way , so their homeland can be bombed? .

  • CraigStrachan

    John Kerry seems to have as much of a problem calibrating his message on Syria as he does modulating his voice when speaking in public..

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    When is the UK MSM going to grow a backbone? Smell up and wake the coffee, Britisher pals. Kerry has painted Obama into a corner. Syria sarin attacks were an inside job caused by the rebels mishandling Saudi supplied chemical weapons. And who supplied Prince Bandar, head of Saudi Intelligence? Whisper who dare. Vlad the Impaler has the goods on Kerry and Obama and is threatening to expose them. This “small” attack talk is the best face-saver these two jokers can come up with until Congress gives them the thumbs down.

  • mobilewebsitedesignwiltshire

    If you really want to put your soldier on war, why you want to get support from other countries? Are you scare of what!!

  • SClanding

    Kerry has long been known as one of the STUPIDEST people in DC, along with the uber-buffoon, Joe Biden. yet when the MSMs dim-witted messiah, Barry Obama, chose these idiots for important posts in his administration, you lying POS went on full spin mode to sell them as “respected” people .

    Journalists should be ashamed at the damage they are doing to the USA and the rest of the world by promoting these morons and idiots.

    Have you people NO shame?

  • s.kurup

    No bar in extermination of Christians in the middle east !International community’s love of freedom is strange !

  • Suzyqpie

    The best thing that could happen for Pres 0bama right now would be for John Kerry to decide he needs to spend more time with his family.

    • DrDean

      The best thing that could happen for America and the world would be if the entire Presidential administration decided to spend more time with their family.

      This is the most incompetent presidential administration in American history. Period.

    • cyllan

      it doesnt matter…….if not kerry, Hilary, or sam Powers, or biden, or pelosi, or harry reid, or eric holder…..or the NSA, or the IRS, it is a traitors paradise,
      like in here…….with the populace bought and paid for by the sweat of the hard working taxpayer.
      It doesnt matter who is in power they are all the same

  • Mark Probst

    sheesh… what a long face buffoon. Hey how about only shipping over “advisors” wink wink for a short duration, Mr John Genghis Khan Kerry???

  • Bonkim

    Take Assad out with a small missile, all else will fall in place. Better still offer half a billion dollars to Assad’s inner-gang to get rid of him. More than one way to skin a cat.

  • C. Gee

    Speak softly and carry a tiny stick.

    • Uncle Brian

      Shouldn’t that be: … but kerry an unbelievably small stick?

  • Jon Vinc

    I guess this is what happens when a community organizer who’s accomplishments solely entail choom smoking and being a blank slate upon which others struggle to determine his true self appoints a mimbo who served disgracefully in Vietnam, accused his fellow soldiers of atrocities, and married two rich women who themselves got their money after the deaths of the men who actually built the fortunes.
    It’s impossible to guess at what the next 3 years are going to bring, but it’s guaranteed to be way too funny; and also way too sad for the American people.

    • Suzyqpie

      In additional to your examples of John Kerry’s stellar judgement, I would add, he chose John Edwards as his 2004 VP. And now he is demostrating that he doesn’t even know when to shut up.

  • GardenGnomeLF

    “So god knows what he thinks of his Secretary of State today. Kerry, you see, has today promised that the attack on Syria will be “unbelievably small”. That will learn the Syrian despot, right enough.”

    I love how you “journalists” keep protecting Obama from himself.

    For Republicans or those who oppose Democrats at least, you take EVERYTHING out of context, and even put words in the mouths of Republicans and pretend they say them ,and then mock them for what they never said or believed (Sarah Palin never actually said she can see Russia from her house for example.)

    For Democrats, ESPECIALLY for Obama, you pretend he has absolutely nothing to do with the deliberative actions of the people under him, especially on important matter such as killings of Ambassadors or reasons to go to war.

    Kerry is saying exactly what Obama wants him to say. We are going to bomb Syria because OBAMA is a bumbling idiot and always has been. He is not that smart. He is not wise. He is not thoughtful or cautious.

    Obama can’t make decisions because he doesn’t want to be held accountable for ANYTHING. He takes 100% of the credit if things go well (Bush would have given the credit to the Navy Seals and the CIA for killing Bin Laden) and if things go bad he blames EVERYONE except himself.

    Obama himself wants to go to war, but JUST an international drive-by shooting, that won’t do any good and can lead to WWIII with Russia having ships there also. He also is hoping the jihadis in the “rebel” side take over, but they are worse than ASSAD! He is helping butchers and Islamists, just like in Egypt, Iran, and Libya. If there is a violent jihadi, that is the side Obama is on. Always.

    • Jez

      Obama does not seem to want this as much as Kerry does.

      Also, this evidence of who actually carried out this atrocity. Where is it?

      • GardenGnomeLF

        Actually, Obama does NOT like to be held accountable for ANYTHING unless it can easily be declared a success.
        That is why we know all the details (including ones that hurt the national security) of the Bin Laden raid but no absolutely NOTHING about what Obama knew and when he knew it about Benghazi, one of the worst displays of incompetence (in regards to both Hillary and Obama) in our history….except perhaps this Syria debacle.

        • cyllan

          incompetence? or malice?……. definetely n2

  • Im#2ItryHarder

    Unbelievably small attack: Size-seven boots on the ground

  • Cormac46

    …..yes and abortion will be just for rape and incest

  • Armyspouse1988

    If this attack is going to be “unbelievably small,” WHY even bother? Have we become an “unbelievably small” nation on the world stage? This is so embarrassing and shameful.

  • paevo

    “Unbelievably small”! That’ll show him who’s boss!

    • Techster64

      Just like some kind of workplace violence, not an act of terror?

    • Techster64

      Unfortunately, it surely will.

  • tjack

    By the end of the week Kerry will be asking for permission from Assad to be allowed to lob a single missile into an uninhabited area so that Barry may save face.

    • GUBU

      Better still, they could just bomb a map of Syria located in a remote part of the New Mexico desert, allowing Mr Assad to also claim the attack as a retaliatory strike.

      • Im#2ItryHarder

        Don’t hit Area 51 !