By Daniel McAdams
Anyone wondering just how bad is US foreign policy need only turn to the daily press briefing by the US State Department for an answer. And let me tell you, the answer is it's really, really bad. Yesterday's briefing was at the same time one for the record books and par for the course, as State Department Spokesman Admiral John Kirby tried to explain Washington's uber-incoherent Syria policy.
First, AP diplomatic reporter Matt Lee -- an excellent journalist -- asked Kirby to explain Washington's opposition to a Kurdish group in Syria announcing the creation of an autonomous Kurdish area inside Syria. After all, observed Lee, Washington does not believe Assad has the legitimacy to govern Syria so the Kurds are not encouraged to put themselves under the control of the current government in Damascus.
State Department Spokesman Kirby agreed.
But Washington opposes the creation of any autonomous areas inside Syria, so they cannot self-govern.
So where does that leave the Kurds to turn for governance, ISIS?
Please be patient for the extended quote, it really is worth reading the exchange:
MR KIRBY: What we’re trying to get in place, as I said earlier, is good governance in Syria. I’m not going to dispute with you, I certainly would not disagree with you, that there’s not good – that there is no good governance in Syria. We concede that point, which is why the talks in Geneva are so important to try to get at a government that is responsible and responsive to the Syrian people. And we recognize that’s going to take some time. But again, the timeline is around 18 months.
The State Department believes it has mastered the art of articulating two (or more) completely contradictory positions at the same time, but as you can read above, the resulting dog's breakfast is a horror to read and probably a hazard to thinking person.
The briefing gets even worse, however, when the discussion turns to the political transition process. State Department Spokesman Kirby outlined the kind of government the US wants to see in Syria:
I’ll say it again. We don’t support self-rule, self – semi-autonomous zones inside Syria. We just don’t. What we want to see is a unified, whole Syria that has in place a government that is not led by Bashar al-Assad, that is responsive to the Syrian people, whole, unified non-sectarian Syria. That’s the goal.
Matt Lee then asked, "if it was the will of the Syrian people as negotiated by their representatives to have a federal system, that the United States could accept that if that was ultimately their chosen outcome. Is that still your policy?"
To which Kirby replied, "We’re not interested in self-rule, self-autonomous zones" (for Syria).
This all leads to Matt Lee summarizing the insanity of US foreign policy better than we've seen done in a long time:
QUESTION: So the political transition in Geneva – the Syrians are free to come up with whatever kind of system they want. It’s up to them to decide. But the United States says they can’t have Assad as their leader, and they can’t have a federal system of any sort. How is that leaving it up to the Syrians to decide how they’re going to govern themselves?
This is Washington's idea of freedom and sovereignty for Syria (and the rest of the world): you are free to choose your own future as long as you choose the future we want for you.
This article was originally published at The Ron Paul Institute.