Thursday, September 17, 2015

Another kind of fact check

With the pundits having thrown their Donald Trump toy against the wall and picked up the Carly Fiorina one instead, we better start paying attention. The fact checkers are working busily on some of last night's more extravagant claims, but among the problems with that methodology is that a claim which is simply in circulation without contradiction and/or lacks any definitive evidence can skate by unnoticed, despite its gravity. So here's Fiorina --

By the way, the reason it is so critically important that every one of us know [Iran IRGC head] General Suleimani's name is because Russia is in Syria right now, because the head of the Quds force traveled to Russia and talked Vladimir Putin into aligning themselves with Iran and Syria to prop up Bashar al- Assad.

That's both widely reported, denied only by sources that lack credibility (i.e. Russia), and plausible given the scale-up of Russian involvement in Syria over the last weeks.

But is it true? Even if the meeting happened, was it Iran talking Russia into something, or vice versa, or even a joint plan that might eventually see both of them dump Bashar al-Assad as long their other interests could be secured in a post-Assad Syria?

If it's widely accepted that Russia and Iran are there only to back al-Assad, then the chances of a messy compromise -- which is all that can save millions of Syrians from misery at this stage -- further recedes. So Fiorina's claim, which came as part of an explicit burnishing of her furrin policy credentials, could lead to some serious dead-ends.

No comments: