The U.S. State Department is wrapping up a momentous year in global diplomacy and over the holiday weekend State spokesperson John Kirby wrote a “DipNote” post on the department’s site recapping the year that was for America’s diplomatic corps. Because diplomatic blog posts do not normally fly off the cyber-shelves, Kirby formatted the State Department’s accomplishments using the Twitter-friendly #2015in5Words to help “take a step back and look at how the United States has helped change the world for the better.”
In a year where there have been legitimate diplomatic successes to reflect on, Kirby did just that listing: “Diplomatic Relations Re-established With Cuba;” “Iran Peaceful Nuclear Program Ensured;” “Stemming Tide of Ebola Outbreak;” “Strongest Climate Agreement Ever Negotiated.” In the diplomatic world where strongly worded communiqués often are touted as “successes,” Kirby’s list throws out some concrete examples of successful statecraft. And as a kicker the post concludes with one, final accomplishment: “Bringing Peace, Security to Syria.”
Now, if you’re thinking of Syria, the country embroiled in a brutal, deadly civil war that’s witnessing atrocities committed by ISIS and the regime alike forcing a mass exodus of ordinary Syrians, you’re thinking of the right country. Here’s what American-inspired “peace” and “security” looks like there, according to Kirby:
The United States and many members of the international community have stepped up to aid the Syrian people during their time of need – the United States has led the world in humanitarian aid contributions since the crisis began in 2011. Led by Secretary Kerry, the United States also continues to push for a political transition in Syria, and under his stewardship, in December, the UN Security Council passed a U.S.-sponsored resolution that puts forward a roadmap that will facilitate a transition within Syria to a credible, inclusive, nonsectarian government that is responsive to the needs of the Syrian people.
You’re welcome, Syria? Here’s Foreign Policy with a thumbnail sketch of the situation in Syria:
According to the United Nations, as of October 2015 some 250,000 people have been killed in more than four years of civil war (casualty figures for 2015 alone are not yet available). More than 11 million refugees have left the region, many of whom swelled onto European shores in the fall of 2015; it’s not clear how many will ever get asylum in Europe, or elsewhere around the world, including in the United States. A March 2015 UN report also noted that four in five Syrians are now living in poverty.
“[I]n the case of Syria, the five words State used to describe the past year seem at the very least inappropriate and at the worst delusional,” Foreign Policy’s David Francis writes.