Peter Beaumont: The Bits that Don't Fit

Too long for Twitter and too short for journalism

Threatening war but wanting a political solution

There was quite a lot of comment on my Twitter timeline regarding comments made by Secretary of State John Kerry recently both predicting the small scale of any military operation and acknowledging that in the end the conflict would be brought to an end by a political solution. For me this sounded like a common place. Most wars are concluded at the negotiating table after all. For others, however, it appeared to be a glaring contradiction.

baghdadstreet7

An MP’s  bodyguard in Baghdad 2013 copyright Peter Beaumont

Kerry’s quotes are here:

“We will be able to hold Bashar al-Assad accountable without engaging in troops on the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort in a very limited, very targeted, short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria’s civil war. That is exactly what we are talking about doing – unbelievably small, limited kind of effort…

“So let me be clear,” he continued. “The United States of America, President Obama, myself, others are in full agreement that the end of the conflict in Syria requires a political solution.”

There’s no contradiction here. About a decade or so ago the buzz phrase for this in military circles was ‘effect based operations’. I’m told that has been superseded by some new jargonese,  but the theory remains largely the same. When designing anything from what posture you will take in a region to the shape of your forces, to the threat of war and what finally to what soldiers calling “going kinetic” ie the use of violence, the idea is to calculate how you can influence outcomes. Short of war or a military strike that means use the threat of force to determine an outcome in this case negotiations and a political solution.

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This entry was posted on September 11, 2013 by and tagged , , , , .
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