It was a refreshing change on Morning Joe, as Joe Scarborough and his yes-woman, Mika Brzezinski weren't on set today to antagonize Democratic guests. The only exception to this more propitious panel of pundits would be Nicolle Wallace, another woman who Barbara Walter helped inflict on the American People, Elisabeth Hasselbeck was her magnum opus of TV blunders. The esteemed guest this morning was Secretary of State John Kerry, who has thus far been very effective in his position.
It was a rather long clip, so I'll try to keep it short and sweet. Kerry brought us up to speed on the talks between world leaders at the UN's 70th anniversary meetings yesterday. All are in agreement that ISIL is a threat to every nation on earth and they must be stopped. Russia, however, disagrees that Assad should be ousted immediately, as he has a relationship with Putin and that allows Putin to set up military operations without resistance inside Syria. Iran too feels that this isn't the time to oust Assad, as he's the only semblance of minor stability in Syria.
Kerry is with them on the need to conquer and destroy ISIL, but he believes that Assad will prevent forward progress. He is meeting with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, to discuss it further tomorrow, and he is optimistic we can settle on an agreement. Of course, the situation is dire and urgent, but it seems we all agree that something should be done to save Syria and its people.
Then comes Nicolle Wallace, who had to bring up the GOP talking point about our credibility with a theoretical 'red line' we never did draw in Syria, but she left out the facts behind that.
WALLACE: 'Is your job made any more difficult by the fact that some question our credibility and our word because we drew a red line in Syria regarding the use of chemical weapons by Assad on his own people. and we didn't follow up?
SECRETARY KERRY: Nicolle I'm really glad you asked that.
WALLACE: sure you are. *laughs disrespectfully
SECRETARY KERRY: Because there's so much misunderstanding about that.
(more cross talk) KERRY elaborates:
I accept that friends of ours have decided that the president's non-strike has somehow impacted perceptions of us, but I believe they are dead wrong and the critics are dead wrong and here's why. The president made his decision to strike...the purpose of the strike was to get the chemical weapons out of Syria...except, that Congress started to weigh in, I was on a conference call with over 100 Congressman, you gotta come ask us for permission before you do that...then low and behold, on the Thursday before we're going to strike, David Cameron went to the Parliament and lost the vote ...So we anticipated (going to Congress) and losing that vote quickly. But something happened on the way to the Forum. We achieved a deal with the Russians...to get all the declared weapons out of Syria. Thank God we did that, because if we hadn't done that, ISIL would have those weapons in large parts of the country.
The bottom line, Putin realizes he's in a quandary if he sticks to his pro-Assad plan, and he did tell Kerry he'll think about the valid points he weighed. Kerry explained, mainly to Wallace, that it's not a black and white situation, with many countries involved. We must, however, find a way to join together to fight ISIL. If Russia goes in alone, they become the target and that's not advantageous to their efforts. That will only recruit more acolytes to the ISIL cause, and that would make matters much worse.
Kerry feels that if Assad would simply agree to engage in a managed transition to change the guard, this plan could go forward and we could get ISIL eradicated.
Richard Haas asked which subjects both President Obama and President Putin could agree upon. The dialogue on the issues of Ukrainian sovereignty and Syria were open for resolution. Kerry was hopeful about talks in Minsk, Ukraine on October 2, and he hopes for a resolution. The next common point was to save Syria, keep it secular, and destroy the Jihadist death cult of ISIL. The only point of contention, at this time is Assad, and it's not, by any means, a lost cause to persist at ridding the Syrian people of that tyrant. Kerry is optimistic but careful, as a competent negotiator should be.