It’s seems pretty clear that Secretary of State John Kerry blundered when he said an American strike could be averted if Bashar Al Assad gave up his chemical weapons.
Needless to say, the screwup shifted the entire U.S. strategy with regard to Syria.
In light of Kerry’s statements though, we’ve collated 9 more political gaffes regarding recent military conflicts that range from downright unintelligent or brash, to ill-conceived and potentially dangerous.
In chronological order:
1. In the late-2002 run-up to the Iraq war, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell touted the CIA’s acquisition of intelligence with regard to aluminium uranium tubes. Later, top analysts on Powell’s staff told reporters they had informed Powell that the intelligence was not reliable at least a year prior to Powell’s statements.
2. Then-President George W. Bush celebrated apparent victory in the Iraq war by posing in front of a “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” banner on an aircraft carrier in 2003.
This was the biggest whopper of recent memory, unlikely to be forgotten or repeated for some time. The war continued officially for another several years, and continues unofficially to this day, if you ask the people living in Baghdad.
3. Vice President Dick Cheney said of the Iraqi insurgency in 2005, “I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.” At the time there was little indication that the insurgency was in its last throes. Arguably, the insurgency is still going on today.
4. While standing at the dispatch box in the House of Commons, British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the UK’s foreign minister would eventually have to explain “the most disastrous decision of all: the illegal invasion of Iraq.”
Clegg’s comments drew immediate rebuke, but oddly enough not so much was the assertion that he was wrong, just that he opened up Britain for possible legal action from the World Court.
5. Former GOP Chair Michael Steele called Afghanistan a war of “Obama’s choosing” in 2010. Obviously, the engagement with Afghanistan began long before Obama was president, or even a senator.
6. President Barack Obama forgot which Medal of Honour recipient is dead in 2011.
“I had the great honour of seeing some of you because a comrade of yours, Jared Monti, was the first person who I was able to award the Medal of Honour to who actually came back and wasn’t receiving it posthumously,” he said to a group of soldiers.
Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti was killed in action in Iraq in 2006. Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta was the living Army soldier Obama awarded.
7. First it was then-Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta and then Vice President Joe Biden who disclosed publicly that SEAL Team 6 conducted the raid on Osama bin Laden in 2011.
The team was immediately beset with attention from the media, and likely from potential enemies.
8. The disclosure of the Obama administration’s hand in crafting the Stuxnet virus in 2012 was widely criticised, both as an attempt to make Obama look hard on Iran and for outing a once-secret capability of Washington to use cyberwarfare.
Some experts even said that it would have behooved the administration to make sure its own networks were secure prior to releasing information about offensive capabilities.
9. Secretary of State John Kerry described Syrian strikes as “unbelievably small” just a few days ago. Certainly this was an attempt to rephrase Barack Obama’s use of the term limited. Nonetheless, there’s nothing “small” about American warships launching there stores of cruise missiles.
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