— The Erimtan Angle —

In the New York Times, one could read that “Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, made the proposal that could avert a strike earlier in the day, seizing on a seemingly offhand remark by Secretary of State John F. Kerry. Traveling in Britain, Mr. Kerry said that Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, could avoid strikes by agreeing to give up his chemical weapons”.[i]  And, it turns out, Kerry’s off-hand remark was made in response to a query made by CBS correspondent Margaret Brennan.

‘When CBS correspondent Margaret Brennan asked Secretary of State John Kerry if there is anything Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime could do or offer that would stop a U.S. military strike, she likely did not expect for Kerry to respond with the “hypothetical” heard ’round the world. “He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week,” Kerry responded, seemingly in jest. “Turn it over, all of it, without delay, and allow a full and total accounting for that. But he isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done, obviously.” Obviously it can’t be done and is not worth considering, right? After all, the State Department clarified that his statement was a “hypothetical.” Except, later that day, Kerry’s off-the-cuff remark became the foundation for a major Russian proposal: Assad hands over his chemical weapons stockpile to the international community and the U.S. military strikes. Hours later, President Obama conceded to NBC News that this new Russian proposal-via-offhand-Kerry-remark could represent “a significant breakthrough,” signaling a shift in U.S. policy from trying to obtain congressional approval for military strikes to a U.N. Security Council resolution involving the overturning of chemical weapons (10 September 2013)’.


[1] M. R. Gordon and S. Lee Myers, “Obama Calls Russia Offer on Syria Possible ‘Breakthrough’” The New York Times (09 September 2013). http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/10/world/middleeast/kerry-says-syria-should-hand-over-all-chemical-arms.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.

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