Somewhere, Hillary Clinton is laughing her ass off:
Sucks 2BU, John!
Aboard Secretary of State John Kerry’s plane to London – As Secretary of State John Kerry winged his way across the Atlantic on the first leg of his first overseas trip as America’s top diplomat, his aides were scrambling on several continents to salvage one of the trip’s most critical and eagerly-awaited sessions.
During the visit to Italy, the State Department had announced, Kerry would have the chance to meet with leaders of the Syrian opposition that have battled the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for two years, in a civil war that has claimed roughly 70,000 lives.
Over the weekend, however, the Syrian Opposition Council — the main umbrella group for the broad array of rebel politicians, clerics and soldiers, many of them Islamists with ties to al-Qaeda and other unsavory networks — announced it was boycotting the session with Kerry in Rome.
The Syrians complained that the United States — which has blacklisted al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda-linked group that has emerged as one of the most effective combat brigades in the battle against Assad’s military — has not been even-handed enough in its treatment of the rebels.
American diplomats described the internal disputes amongst the rebels as a messy business in which many of those on the front lines — the fighters and commanders who are starving, bleeding and dying — view with increasing suspicion the rebels’ civilian leaders who spend more time meeting with foreign diplomats in fine European hotels.
“I’m an optimist,” Kerry told Foreign Minister Nasser Judah on February 13. “If I weren’t an optimist, I wouldn’t have taken this job.”
He’s got that right. He’s such an optimist, he even stood up for this guy:
“President Assad has been very generous with me in terms of the discussions we have had,” Kerry said. “And when I last went to — the last several trips to Syria — I asked President Assad to do certain things to build the relationship with the United States.”
“So my judgment is Syria will move; Syria will change, as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States and the West and economic opportunity that comes with it and the participation comes with it,” he said.
Officials for Kerry and Shelby say neither ever referred to Assad as a “reformer.”