Everyone's entitled to a bit of boasting now and again, but a year-in-review State Department blog post appears to have veered into overstatement territory on Syria, Politico reports. Authored by spokesman John Kirby, the DipNote post, entitled "Pivotal Foreign Policy Moments of 2015," combines the recently trending hashtag #2015In5Words with what Kirby believes were the department's greatest achievements this year. In it, Kirby takes a "look at how the United States has helped change the world for the better." Included are five-word commendations such as "Diplomatic Relations Re-established With Cuba" and "Protecting Arctic Climate and Communities." Other listings use more declarative, debate-provoking language: "Strongest Climate Agreement Ever Negotiated," "Iran Peaceful Nuclear Program Ensured," and "Winning Fight Against Violent Extremists."
But it's Kirby's fist-bumps regarding Syria when eyebrows really start to rise. "Bringing Peace, Security to Syria" is perhaps the most surprising "significant success" he touts, proclaiming that "the Syrian people have borne a heavy load," but the US, under John Kerry's stewardship, "has led the world in humanitarian aid contributions since the crisis began in 2011." The back pat continues with praise for a UN Security Council resolution that "puts forward a roadmap that will facilitate a transition within Syria to a credible, inclusive, nonsectarian government ... responsive to the needs of the Syrian people." All of which may sound overly optimistic considering, as Politico notes, Syria "remains embroiled in a nasty civil war and terrorized by the Islamic State." Or as David Francis at Foreign Policy puts it: "The five words State used to describe the past year seem at the very least inappropriate and at the worst delusional."