The mostly American furor over an ex-Cold War KGB officer now Russian President Vladimir Putin pwning President Barack Obama and becoming a global statesman have overshadowed the fact that two remarkable American traits have saved the world from war; sarcasm and condescension. On Monday, September 9th, Secretary of State John Kerry, stood in front of journalists in London’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and uttered a ridiculous (to both of them) scenario that would keep the U.S. from bombing Syria further into the 15th century in response to a question as to how to avoid war.
John Kerry has just seen the worst two weeks of his life, well, since he bungled the 2004 election to George W. Bush. The first minute of that video is Kerry fed up, tired, sarcastic, condescending, and in total beast jerk mode. Basically, he’s me on a Friday afternoon after a long week at work, writing, stress, picking up kids from school and activities, with no sleep and little credibility on anything without a nap. For the next five minutes he lays out the case against Syrian leader Bashar al Assad like a great television prosecutor and quality politician. No one was listening. Because in the that first minute, his off the cuff proposal about Assad giving up his chemical weapons to the international community was met with seriousness by anyone not from the land of Stars & Stripes. Kerry, an erudite snob from Massachusetts, drew on his Americanism, when you’re pissed off and sick of it all, get sarcastic and condescending and let the bodies hit the floor.
No one on U.S. soil took Kerry seriously. No one. I don’t care what your cousin on Facebook says, nobody in the United States paid heed to John Kerry’s first minute of that speech. In fact the State Department issued a denial that the Secretary has made an official proposal of anything, calling his words “rhetorical”. They should have called them historical, because before John Kerry could lay his head down on the five-star hotel bed that night, Assad’s best friend forever, Russian action plan man Vlad Putin, has put together a plan to get Syria chemical weapons in a great big safety deposit box and started accepting “attaboy Russkie” handshakes from whoever offered. The wannabe Bond villain is A-list celebrity stuff, now, waiting for his People Magazine spread.
Let’s be real. Have Barack Obama, John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel screwed up everything associated with Syria and foreign policy in the last two weeks? Hell and yes. They’ve been so bad that each of their lifelong reputations as peace doves have been destroyed. But Kerry’s sarcastic, condescending answer to that reporter’s question saved lives and kept the United States out of war, for now. Who cares about Vladimir Putin? The United Nations knows he’s waist deep in corrupted muck with Syria and Iran regarding oil money and weapons exchanges. Just because your average Rush Limbaugh listener thinks the American President and his Secretaries look bad means nothing, globally. This world is round and big and now the International community is crediting John Kerry for giving Vladimir Putin a good idea. Who cares if it’s all disingenuous? Where are the “Kerry Wise-Cracked Now We’re Not Iraq’d” bumper stickers and t-shirts? The next time there’s a foreign policy crisis, President Obama and John Kerry should just snark out the most inane scenario and watch the world smile.
I’m like the rest of you. When all of this went down this week, I wrote here at Sprocket and took to Twitter to call Obama and Kerry embarrassing and Putin enterprising. But when the plan shook out and Obama called off the Congressional voting for Syrian action (which he would have lost, further kicking his ass) and suddenly America was safer, I realized something greater than all of the news and political opinion. Sarcasm and condescension are who and what we are. U S A, U S A, U S A!
Lance Burson is writer living outside Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and 3 daughters. He’s the published author of 2 books, The Ballad of Helene Troy and Soul To Body, found on amazon.com, digitally, and Lulu.com in paperback. His favorite Bond movie villain was Blofeld, because of the cat.