U.S. diplomacy reached a low point on September 28 when State Department spokesman John Kirby said that unless Russia returns to the negotiating table “Russia will continue to send troops home in body bags” and “more Russian aircraft will be shot down.”
While direct threats are unusual for a diplomat, Kirby’s comments are consistent with remarks made by his boss at the U.N. Security Council on September 21. There Secretary of State John Kerry set the tone for the Syrian debate:
Now, those who believe the crisis in Syria cannot become even worse are dead wrong, as are those who believe that a military victory is possible. This could be like Carthage with the Romans, if you call that a victory.¹
In the Battle of Carthage, the Roman Army destroyed the North African nation after they defied demands to surrender. After the slaughter, the survivors were sold into slavery and Rome reduced their city to rubble.
John Kerry, a member of the Skull and Bones Society², compared Syria to Carthage to sound even more threatening than his spokesman who promised to send Russians home in body bags.
In Kerry’s mind, America is the Roman Republic and he is Scipio Aemilianus the Roman consul sent to put the North Africans in their place. Kerry, an ex-swift boat commander, demanded that either the Syrians accept a political solution that reduces their nation to third-world status or America and her proxies will level their nation and plow it with salt.
Threats are the language of military commanders not diplomats. They must be made from a position of overwhelming strength, otherwise the threats will be ignored and the belligerents will lose face in the eyes of their adversaries.
At each step in the Syrian negotiations Russian diplomats have acted as the adults in the room and offered face-saving solutions to the Americans and their proxies. Their efforts have been met with insults and ridicule as demonstrated by Samantha Power’s performance at the U.N. Security Council on September 17, 2016.
In a display of arrogance, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power walked out on her Russian counterpart after his request for a closed door meeting with the world’s nuclear powers. The Russian Federation requested the meeting after the slaughter of Syrian soldiers by U.S. warplanes earlier in the day. Samantha Power is an expert on genocide.² She described the security council meeting as a Russian “stunt” and “magic trick” to divert attention away from Russian “war crimes” in Syria.
Despite the humiliating treatment, Russian diplomats devised a face-saving explanation for the incident. Ambassador Churkin said it was the result of a disagreement between the Pentagon and the White House over the proposed peace plan.
He helped the U.S. save face by providing a fictional explanation for the slaughter of the Syrians. The Russians want the world to recognize that they made an effort to negotiate for peace before they finish their military campaign to wipe out the western backed forces in Aleppo.
Both Power and Kerry attempted to demonstrate to the world that the Russian Federation is not to be taken seriously. They implied that Russia is not an equal negotiating partner with the United States because the U.S. has overwhelming military superiority. Have they forgotten that the Russians also have a nuclear arsenal capable of annihilating their enemies?
If Kerry, Power, and Kirby were the top American diplomats when I was serving in the U.S. Navy then we all would have been incinerated long ago.
Stephen A. Molling is a U.S. Navy veteran, IT Consultant, and writer. The Uragon Protocol is a fictional account of the likely undiplomatic resolution of the current conflict between the Russian Federation and the United States of America. Click here for Steve’s blog.