Late night comics and political pundits and plain old news commentators have been having a good time quipping about Secretary of State John Kerry accidentally stumbling into a possible diplomatic solution in Syria. Jon Stewart had a hilarious comparison with video of Mister Magoo wandering around blindly but coming out of his disaster okay. John Kerry, getting a random question and then just off-handedly making an off-the-wall comment that Russia picked up on the very next day, and then immediately after, Syria itself.
Seriously? People think this was a stumbling, bumbling accident? Seriously?
I don't even begin to remotely think this was an accident. I don't think that John Kerry, a man not known for having even an ounce of whimsy, made a whimsical, outlandish out-of-the-blue quip at a dead-serious press conference about how Syria could just give up its chemical weapons.
I don't remotely think that Russia -- a nation not renown for acting haphazardly and off-the-hip, without having to go through layers of bureaucracy -- within a day of Mr. Kerry's statement, jumped in and announced that, in fact, his joke was actually a great idea and we're all for it, in ending a stand-off they've been doing everything publicly to cause problems for the U.S.
I don't remotely think that Syria -- a country who has been denying that it has even had a chemical weapons program and who has been gassing and mass-killing its citizens -- just hours later suddenly acknowledged that, well, yes, we actually do have a chemical weapons program after all. And not only that, we will get rid of it. All you have to do is ask!
And, seriously, folks, I don't even remotely think that that fortuitous question from the journalist came purely by chance.
A few weeks ago, President Obama met with Vladimir Putin. We know this -- it was in all the papers, you couldn't miss it. And it is impossible for me to imagine that they didn't talk about Syria, chemical warfare, and the dangers to the world. In fact, Mr. Obama acknowledged in speech on Tuesday that they did. And I am almost quite certain that they had a discussion that figured out a polite, low-key, non-aggressive way to handle a diplomatic resolution to the Syria problem without forcing anyone to lose face. Russia would talk it over with Syria first, quietly and behind closed doors, and when they forced their Middle East ally to accept or lose support, then the U.S. would tell some journalist what a good question would be to ask John Kerry if you'd like him to call on you at his press conference. And the Secretary of State would make an off-handed quip about what would resolve the situation, without any demands which would force opponents to get all defensive and posture in return. And Russia would immediately jump in and say, "That's actually a great idea!" And Syria would follow on their heels and agree, "You betcha!"
That makes sense to me.
Mister Magoo stumbling off a cliff into the loving arms of Russia and Syria, catching him before he falls, does not.
What absolutely gobsmack amazes me the most, though, is how most analysts -- to the point of almost all, really smart, insightful people -- seem to have accepted that it was just a stumbling chance comment.
"Oh, Magoo, you've done it again...!"
Robert J. Elisberg's new novel The Wild Roses, a comic adventure in the spirit of The Three Musketeers but with three women, recently reached the Top 50 in three Amazon Kindle bestseller categories. His other writing can be found at Elisberg Industries.