Silent Rex spoke yesterday in his remarks with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster on the Syrian airfield strike, and - unlike with most official yada-yada - he actually had something to say.
He and NSA McMaster obviously don't need any help dealing with the press, but if they should ever want to bring in a guest spokesman, I suggest they get that CNN interviewee in the clip above. He hit all their points about chemical weapons, the value of retaliatory strikes, settling the Syrian civil war, safe zones and refugees, and did it in only three minutes. Plus, he made CNN sad.
I thought "Mic Drop" Tillerson gave a really impressive performance. He spoke in complete sentences (a rarity for American politicians, and something I always admire with their British counterparts), said no more than needed, and then he got out. Most of, he - got - out. So many of our officials don't stop talking when they should. The entire remarks and press Q and A are at the link above, but the key words were: normalizing the use of chemical weapons, proportional, coordinated very carefully with our international partners, deliberative process, and existential threat.
For a big bonus, "Mic Drop" gave this cogent statement of the administration's strategy for dealing with the mess in Syria. This is the first time I can recall hearing anything even close to a practical approach. None of that vaporous "international values" stuff, or "red line" hollow threats.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, if I could, obviously the diplomatic considerations here are of a magnitude that didn’t exist a number of years ago. When you went into this, unlike President Obama, who was dealing simply with Bashar al-Assad, you’re dealing with Russia, you’re dealing with the Kurds, you’re dealing with Turkey. Can you give us a little bit of the diplomatic calculation in undertaking this action?
SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, my expectation is that all of those parties, with the exception of Bashar al-Assad and perhaps Russia, I think are going to applaud this particular action or effort. Overall, the situation in Syria is one where our approach today and our policy today is first to defeat ISIS. By defeating ISIS, we remove one of the disruptive elements in Syria that exists today. That begins to clarify, for us, opposition forces and regime forces, and working with the coalition – as you know, there is a large coalition of international players and allies who are involved in the future resolution in Syria. So it’s to defeat ISIS; it’s to begin to stabilize areas of Syria, stabilize areas in the south of Syria, stabilize areas around Raqqa, through ceasefire agreements between the Syrian regime forces and opposition forces; stabilize those areas, begin to restore some normalcy to them, restore them to local governments – and there are local leaders who are ready to return, some who’ve left as refugees that are ready to return, to govern these areas; use local forces that will be part of the liberation effort to develop the local security forces – law enforcement, police force; and then use other forces to create outer perimeters of security so that areas like Raqqa, areas in the south, can begin to provide a secure environment so refugees can begin to go home and begin the rebuilding process.
If all that ever gets done, he said, then we can move to the the Geneva Process and the future disposition of Assad.
Well done. Always leave them wanting more. And if the news media want to chew this subject over endlessly to fill their 24-hour news cycle, they can call that Syrian guy CNN interviewed. I think CNN is done with him.
P.S. I wonder what the Public Diplomacy people make out of the crazy gratitude some Arabs are showing President Trump?