walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
Feed
Features
Reviews
Podcast
Syrian Refugees Scold US for Hot Words, Cold Deeds

800px-U.S._Secretary_of_State_John_Kerry_meets_with_Syrian_Opposition_Council_Chairman_Moaz_al-Khatib_in_Istanbul,_Turkey_on_April_20,_2013

Secretary of State John Kerry was at a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan yesterday, tasked with the thankless job of being berated for his boss’s decision-making. The Secretary discovered that average Syrians pretty much agree with what WRM wrote in the WSJ last week: that this administration has a habit of substituting rhetoric for action. The WSJ reports:

“We are not satisfied with the Americans’ actions,” said Jamalat Abdulraoof al-Hariri, a 43-year-old refugee who met Washington’s top diplomat here for 40 minutes on Thursday. “We are only hearing words. We need active steps!”

Others who met Mr. Kerry voiced exasperation for what they said amounted to the U.S. standing on the sidelines as Iran, Russia and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah helped Mr. Assad’s forces notch battlefield victories.

“Where is the international community? What are you waiting for?” a female refugee, who didn’t give her name, asked Mr. Kerry at a United Nations compound inside the 115,000-person Zaatri camp in north Jordan. “At least impose a no-fly zone or an embargo.”

The Obama administration’s feckless Syria policy predates Secretary Kerry’s tenure. And even if the Secretary were able to do more to help the rebels, thanks and praise from the civil war’s victims likely wouldn’t be forthcoming. But even in the midst of this difficult meeting with the conflict’s refugees, the Secretary wasn’t able to avoid the rhetorical precedent set for him by this White House:

“You are absolutely correct. I am very concerned about Hezbollah and Iran,” Mr. Kerry told the refugees. “We are talking about that now. We are not happy with it.”

Mark this down as another US “concern” that no one will take seriously—not the refugees, not the rebels, not Hezbollah nor Iran.

[Image of US Secretary of State John Kerry with Syrian Opposition Council Chairman Moaz al-Khatib courtesy of Wikimedia]

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • Pete

    The world is crazy. Here’s a taste of why:

    “We are not satisfied with the Americans’ actions,” said Jamalat Abdulraoof al-Hariri, a 43-year-old refugee who met Washington’s top diplomat …”

    Just who does this Syrian refugee think she is to assume that the U.S. must act to met her satisfaction?

    The premise of her comment is that America has an obligation to run around and solve the problems of the world.

    Sorry, but that ain’t so.

    • Corlyss

      We’re the indispensable nation. Everyone talks to us like that. Sometimes we volunteer to do what they want. Usually we don’t.

      • Pete

        And Heaven forbid, sometimes we might do what is in U.S. national interest.

        Then the gashing of teeth starts from all quarters, including the foreign policy establishment in Washington right?

        • Corlyss

          Divining the national interest is key. Sometimes it’s in over action, sometimes it’s in inaction. In Obama’s case, discovering it usually occurs long after the realization loses all power to motivate.

    • Jim__L

      It’s a little unfair to expect someone meeting with an American powerbroker (who presumably is there to figure out American policy, and not just for a nice vacation) not to form an opinion about America’s policy and express that opinion.

      It’s also hard to expect that opinion (once it exists) to be positive, in the case of current events in Syria.

      If we want them to ignore us, we’d have to ignore them. Unfortunately, while that is a necessary condition, it’s not a sufficient one.

  • Corlyss

    Let’s send Samantha Powers over there to do some of her patented rhetoric qua good deeds.

  • Senor Equis

    Unfortunately Walter while I’m a big fan of your work I have to say this:

    There has been a severe coddling of Michael D. Weiss and other spokespersons for the Henry Jackson Society, both about the policies they advocate and the origins of their funding with respect to Syria. While Weiss wants us to go over Snowden’s motives with a fine toothed comb, we are not to ask if there is only one degree of separation between Weiss and members of State Dept. designated terrorist groups in Syria, nor does Weiss respond on Twitter or in other comments sections where he contributes to the origins of the HJSoc’s funding on Syria and whether the same Emir of Qatar who supported Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have been the chief patron. This alignment between Islamism and what one D.C. lawyer sarcastically termed the ‘Demintern’ of the NRI and NED hasn’t receive sufficient scrutiny, probably for fear of being seen as carrying water for Moscow or others. But it’s there.

    What was also disturbing about Weiss was the cavalier attitude he demonstrated during the so-called ‘bail in’ on Cyprus last March, to the point of basically calling the pensioners both Greek and British who lost a good chunk of their life’s savings as ‘collateral damage’ in the cause of striking at Russian financial interests on the island. And people like Weiss wonder why the term ‘neocon’ has become one that is spit out, almost hated not just outside D.C. but also in Europe.

    Overall Mr. Weiss is someone I would love to get on camera and grill on these topics, but suffice to say he would probably slither away with protestations in his posh British accent. He along with Phillip Smyth unquestionably have sought to downplay Vatican friendly news sources as full of ‘Assad agitprop’ whenever they describe massacres committed against Syrian Christians.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2014 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service