Friday, 22 July 2016

Boris Johnson/John Kerry Press Conference 7/19/16

Foreign Secretaries practise 'Obiter Dicta'.

"I don't think there is a time when we have been confronted with as many different areas and regions with challenges, all of them with an impact on global security, all of them requiring a result simultaneously. And for the United States we are more engaged, more places, simultaneously,  than at any time in American history." "The values that we share."John Kerry.

In a Times article yesterday (21.7.2016) David Aaronovitch, in reference to PM Questions the day before which ignored the big issue of 'Brexit', said, "It was like a couple of drama critics discussing the acting on the night Lincoln was shot." It was a clever allusion that I wish I had thought of first, for if I had, I could equally well have applied it to the Johnson/Kerry 'press conference' held recently in London. The thrust of the simile clearly was that the important issues fell victim to trivia. Leaving aside the parallel of two actors on the world stage as it were, merely vocalising an approved script, the analogy holds good. It would appear that in the media's eyes, the personal faux-pas of a journalist and ex-Mayor of London are of much greater interest than dramatic world events affecting millions.

A full YouTube video of the event can be viewed here: "Published on 19 Jul 2016: Boris Johnson & John Kerry Press Conference 7/19/16" 

The session lasted a little under three quarters of an hour in which both Johnson and Kerry, with their respective flags behind them, summarised their views of one another, the common issues facing the two countries and the purpose of the meeting. Both gave assured performances that might be expected of seasoned public speakers with good brains, although Johnson looked decidedly uncomfortable at times being reminded of this descriptions of both Obama and (Hilary) Clinton (at 25.00mins), which were far from complementary. 

One such accusation from an Gardiner Harris of the New York Times (at 34.00mins) was even that he had, "a long history of wild exaggeration and frequently outright lies"Johnson just shook his head in disbelief to this remark, saying that although he appreciated, "the First Amendment guarantee of free speech", he thought he should, "give chapter and verse to this stuff" meaning he should, in such a public forum, substantiate the allegation of lying in the past.

Johnson after welcoming the American Secretary of State and reiterating the close ties and uniformity of foreign policy the two countries shared, he summarised the British Government's position regarding trade and particularly the decision to leave the EU and the priority it regarded the situation in Syria, the Yemen and (perhaps rather surprisingly) Egypt. (Why Egypt?) Despite the very fresh attempted coup in Turkey, this country was mentioned only in passing, with the Paris Agreement on climate change and the joint approach to Iran and its nuclear ambitions. However (of course) Israel, despite its central role in just about everything was not referred to! Maybe an underlying theme, for someone with a good sense of humour, was the Monty Python sketch, "Don't mention the War", except this time the word was 'Israel'. 

(For the very funny sketch, that I am sure would amuse even Mrs Merkel, see:

As regards Syria he said, "The regime somehow coming to terms with the moderates and opposition, somehow engaging in a peace process with them, at the same time as agreeing to a transition away from power for Assad, which is what everybody wants to see. Everyone can then concentrate their fire, their energies "

Kerry in his speech, after emphasising the close ties between and common goals of the two countries, (although he studiously avoided the term "special relationship") quoting Winston Churchill, "What can be achieved if Britain and America work together in heart and hand?" Kerry added, "This is a different (and more complex) time and it requires different thinking."

"I don't think there has been a time when we have been confronted with as many areas and regions, with challenges, all of them with an impact on global security, all of them requiring a response simultaneously, and for the US we are more engaged, more committed than any time in history."

Mentioned only briefly was the situation in Ukraine, previously a hot topic, by way of implementing the Minsk Agreement. Could this be because Russia's and Putin's support was now essential if a coordinated policy was to be pursued in Syria against ISIS and Assad, which some might consider mutually exclusive objectives? The two had met not long before (see photograph below) and ostensibly agreed a common approach.

He said he would update his fellow foreign ministers at an international meeting on Syria in the British capital the next day (Tuesday), describing his visit to Moscow the previous week and the concrete steps that the U.S. and Russia were planning to take, having spoken to Foreign Minister Lavrov, "again today." Those 'foreign ministers' were apparently

"We both believe that we have an understanding of the direction we are going in and what needs to be achieved and our teams will meet shortly and we are going to continue to do that in order to bolster the cessation of hostilities and in order to increase our capacity to fight back against al Qaeda, which is Nusra, as well as fight back against ISIL," Kerry said, adding, "we will also do everything in our power to improve delivery of food, medicine, water, incredibly essential humanitarian needs." 
He also emphasized the need to end all attempts to besiege the city of Aleppo and other besieged towns and ensure full humanitarian access there, according to State Department Spokesperson John Kirby.

'Daish' appears to be the preferred nomenclature for the mercenary groups operating in Lybia, Iraq and Syria, although the paradoxes and questions relating to their formation and support were not referred to and although 'Al Nusra Front' was labelled 'AlQaeda' no one could explain why these were actively supported by Israel whilst avoiding any condemnation of the latter.
Sometimes pictures convey far more about international relationships than do "diplomatic words" as Kerry put it. Let us compare the above images with that of a recent meeting between Kerry and the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, immediately before.

About half the available time was given over to questions from four selected representatives of the press - two British, two American. They appeared to be far more interested in putting the newly appointed Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson 'on the spot', than engaging in any opf the substantive issues referred to other than Brexit and its implications for both European and American relations and world trade. Both agreed that in respect of TTIP and bi-lateral trade negotiations, nothing could be actively done - indeed it would be illegal under Community law to do so - until the "pencil had been turned to ink" (to paraphrase Johnson). It is clear that the new Theresa May government is no hurry to implement the Article 50 procedure. Yet again the media representatives thereby showed they were more interested in style than substance, and a rare opportunity was lost question British and American policy and past action.

The questions that could have been asked and weren't:

What part had America played in the downfall of the previous government and the disorder that surrounded it?
Did America/Britain hold to the view that MH17 was shot down by Russian-backed separists?
Given that the Ukraine was considered to be in Russia's 'back yard' and sphere of influence, and subject to agreement that NATO would not advance on it when it became 'independent', did the Secretary of State have any misgivings over its influence over events there?
Was NATO trying to 'up the anti' with Russia and invoking a new cold war with its military manoeuvres and missile deployment?

Did Secretary Kerry agree with the findings of the British Iraq Inquiry?
Did he believe the invasion of Iraq was necessary, justified or legal?
Did he think if not, those American politician responsible for the decisions taken should be pursued for criminal acts?

Given the fact that 9/11 was used as justification for invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq, did he still hold to the official version of events, namely Osama bin Laden and nineteen mainly Saudi high-jackers?
Why was there never a proper criminal investigation of the events and how was it possible that the crime scene been so quickly destroyed?
Given the highly hazardous dust, how can he explain the US government's advice, that to return to the area was perfectly safe?
What does he think of all the evidence amassed by 'Architechs for Truth' and others that 9/11 was a criminal fraud perpatrated by a network of Jewish and Right Wing elements in government and outside it with the active participation of Israel?

Has the country been intentionally destabilised by American and Western interests?
Does he know Israel has actively supported Al Nusra which he has condemned as Al Qaeda. So why hasn't he conmdemned Isral as well?
Isn't it true that the stated wish to bring peace to the region is hypocritical nonsense given the history of American plans and action in the area.
Isn't it true that America is actually implementing Israeli policy for the area?

Was America aware of the recent attempted coup. Indeed was it in some way involved?
What was America's view of Turkey supporting Daish in several important ways including buying its oil?
Is Turkey as a member of NATO acting in accordance with agreed policy or not?
What was the US view of Turkey shooting down Russian planes?
Isn't it true that in a few weeks Russia did more to disable Daish than the Western Alliance had done in years, demonstrating the Western position was a sham?
What plan is in place post-Assad, if in Johnson's words "That's what everybody wants" and anyway is that an accurate view? Does Russia want it? Does Iran want it?

There are so many more important questions that could be posed, and not least in the contest of a new President of the United States and probable different Secretary of State too, I think I will stop there. Hopefully however I have posed enough potential questions to prove yet again what a monumental fail the media representatives prove in holding world leaders and the representatives of countries to account for their policies and actions.

Two very decent human beings with genuine objectives no doubt, but quite adrift from the ugly realities of the world in which criminal and violent agencies reign and everything is based on misinterpretation and falsehood. As I quoted from a different context at the beginning: "Akin to a couple of drama critics discussing the acting on the night Lincoln was shot"! END.


  1. The build up:

  2. For those unfamiliar with Latin legal terms (as used by Boris Johnson a master of words) "Obiter dicta" means: "a judge's expression of opinion uttered in court or in a written judgement, but not essential to the decision and therefore not legally binding as a precedent." Perhaps what he meant was 'words spoken in jest should not be held against one for evermore'?

  3. A must-see to understand the central issue concerning world conflict and the chaos into which it has been plunged in the 21st Century. "Published on 2 Feb 2015
    Questions the US relationship with Israel, Zionism, and Israel's involvement with the 9/11 attacks, introduces the concept of Greater Israel..."


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