During a briefing that took place on March 17, State Department spokesman John Kirby tried to explain why the Obama administration opposed the Kurdish self-rule in northern Syria, but could not quite nail it.
State Department spokespeople sometimes seem to have mastered the art of making mutually exclusive assumptions. Jen Psaki cannot but spring to mind.
Kirby's lengthy explanation (or an ill-fated attempt thereof) was best summed up by AP diplomatic writer Matt Lee.
"So the political transition in Geneva – the Syrians are free to come up with whatever kind of system they want. It's up to them to decide. But the United States says they can't have Assad as their leader, and they can't have a federal system of any sort. How is that leaving it up to the Syrians to decide how they're going to govern themselves?"
In other words, the Syrians can choose any system of governance they like and elect any officials they deem fitting if Washington is not against. Otherwise, they will apparently have to think again.
Political analyst Daniel McAdams summarized Washington's approach to freedom and sovereignty by saying that "you are free to choose your own future as long as you choose the future we want for you." He also called America's policy on Syria "uber-incoherent" and the US foreign policy in general "really, really bad."
You can view the full exchange here (23:40):