America’s Syrian policy: Victory for the Keystone Kops

Maybe it doesn't matter how you get there so long as you make it, but the Syria situation sure ended like an old time comedy. Photo: Keystone Kop foreign policy (

CHARLOTTESeptember 10, 2013 – Mention the word “keystone” and most Americans think of a pipeline. In Washington however, “keystone” refers to the “Keystone Kops” foreign policy of the Obama administration that, for now, has rendered weeks of hand wringing, indecision and tedious debate over Syria an exercise in bloviating.

The Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland (

It is difficult, if not impossible, not to be cynical about politics these days with President Mickey Mouse and Secretary of State Goofy running all over Fantasyland “wishing on a star” while they figure what the adults are going to do. The past two weeks have been a field day for conspiracy theorists and speculators and why not? Has the Obama administration succeeded at anything other than diminishing its own credibility and that of the United States in the process?

The spin doctors are already cranking out plaudits about Obama’s diplomatic acumen and his hard line “red line” stance. Honest observers know otherwise. It isn’t a stance, it is posturing. Huge difference, but that’s the way politics works in Washington.

When the credits roll after a movie, patrons offer wonder just exactly what is a “gaffer.” John Kerry left no doubt at a press conference in London Monday when he initially described any action against Syria as being “unbelievably small.” That being the case, then why take action at all? The only things that have been “unbelievably small” lately are the Obama administration’s sloppy foreign policies which serve to highlight their ineptitude.

Kerry followed up gaffe number one with another misguided remark which was the equivalent of fumbling the football behind the goal line and being recovered by Obama for a safety that Vladimir Putin used to preserve a victory.

When Kerry off-handedly suggested that Syria could avoid military action by turning over its chemical weapons to an international authority, Putin immediately jumped at the opportunity to advise President Bashar al-Assad to take the offer.

At first Obama’s response was “You have to take it with a grain of salt,” but then he added, “We’re going to run this to ground. We’re going to make sure that we see how serious these proposals are.”

Now that we know the Syrians were serious, Obama has become the Einstein of diplomacy. He should have stuck with “You have to take it with a grain of salt,” because that is precisely what it is.

In Obamaspeak, however, “run this to ground” really means “run this into the ground” when it comes to explaining the wisdom of his indecisiveness to the world.

For the moment, it appears to be a win-win for the world and its politicians. The “red line” has faded to pink as Russia and Syria have avoided military action. Assad can go back to using bullets instead of gas. Assad can always make more WMD, if and when he needs them. In the interim, Assad, and the Middle East, can claim they stood up to America’s bravado.

Meanwhile the civil war in Syria continues as though nothing ever happened except a brief two week interval of meaningless debate. No doubt Al Qaeda, and other similar terrorist organizations, have been emboldened, but that doesn’t matter to Barack Obama because he can, and will, temporarily claim victory. And in Russia, Vladimir Putin has suddenly become a peacemaker.

Do the Hokey Pokey (

The Obama administration has done a political version of Dancing with the Stars with this week’s featured dance, The Hokey Pokey. “You put your right hand in, you put your right hand out, you put your right hand in, and you shake it all about. You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around, that’s what it’s all about.”

For the time being, the game of “what if” is over. No more “what if we attack Syria and they strike Israel?” No more “What do we do about Iran and their nuclear weapons?” No more “What if the rebels aren’t secular and have been infiltrated by Islamists?”

We can turn our attention back to Egypt while we let the Syrians kill each other again. Or maybe not. Maybe this time it will be Yemen or Bahrain or Lebanon. You never know. There is always something going on in the Middle East in the way of turmoil and violence.

Just remember that grain of salt. It will come back to haunt us eventually.

The president will address the nation tonight, but the original speech will now be quite different. Commentators can analyze whether or not he should wear his cape because Obama is no longer sitting naked on the wrecking ball.

We can give that and twerking back to Miley Cyrus. Americans are more interested in that controversy anyway.

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (  

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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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