It involves . . . well . . . um . . . let me give the microphone to the secretary of state:
John Kerry suggested today that the task of defeating the Islamic State could fall to Iran and the Syrian government if the US was “failing miserably” in its effort to defeat the jihadists.
The hypothetical scenario raised by the secretary of state is likely to be a new frustration for the White House, which has spent the day quashing speculation by American generals that US ground troops could be sent back to Iraq.
Mr Kerry’s words may also heighten Sunni suspicions that the US secretly intends to ally with the Shia governments in Damascus and Tehran against Isil.
Mr Kerry made the suggestion as he faced hostile questions from Republicans during a hearing of the Senate foreign relations committee.
He was asked by Marco Rubio, a hawkish Republican, whether American combat forces could be deployed to the Middle East if commanders deemed it was necessary for defeating Isil.
Mr Kerry repeated President Barack Obama’s pledge not to deploy ground troops under any circumstances but then raised the prospect of Iranian and Syrian intervention.
“I’m not going to get into hypotheticals but you’re presuming that Iran and Syria don’t have any capacity to take on Isil. I mean, who knows? I don’t know what’s going to happen here,” he said. “If we’re failing and failing miserably who knows what choice they’re might make.”
If you read that excerpt without giggling and slamming your head against your desk, you are made of stronger stuff than I am. The secretary of state of the United States of America is publicly speculating on the possibility that we might be “failing and failing miserably” in the fight against ISIL, and that if we are, the Iranians and the Syrians will come in to save our bacon militarily.
Presumably, this kind of talk is supposed to make me confident that the adults are in charge in the Executive Branch. But somehow, I find myself less than reassured.