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Posted on Fri 13th Sep, 2013 in: Crisis Communications, Crisis Management, Influence, Public Relations by Tim Downs

It seems that our influencer of the week may actually, according to some commentators, be more of an accidental hero rather than a great forward thinker. But this week our recognition goes to US Secretary of State John Kerry for what might turn out to be the greatest DOH! moment of a generation. Despite widespread public opposition and a defeat in the House of Commons, the UK and the US governments were seemingly lurching towards inevitable military action in Syria. Weeks of rhetoric and increasingly aggressive political and military manoeuvres seemed to suggest that it was a matter of when and not if. There were no alternative plans on the table, no solutions being offered and what appeared to be little desire to find one. But then in an interview given on Monday and in response to the question 'Could Assad do anything to avert an American-led attack?' Senator Kerry suggested that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, turned over his complete stockpile of chemical weapons within the next week then he could. The remark was accompanied by a dismissive shrug of the 'as if' variety and the statement "But he isn't about to." But within hours of the supposedly 'rhetorical' comment, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had backed the demand, shortly after that government sources in Damascus also added their approval for the idea, as did the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. And the momentum hasn't let up since. A day later, US deputy national security adviser Tony Blinkin said "We're going to take a hard look at this," in a press conference with reporters. "We'll talk to the Russians about it." And yesterday it was announced that Lavrov is to meet with Kerry in Geneva to hammer out the details of a possible joint agreement on how to put Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles under international control. Now, were clearly not out of the woods yet, but with a simple off the cuff 'gaffe', Secretary of State Kerry seemingly accidentally found a diplomatic solution to the problem, averted the immediate likelihood of military action, and got the Russians, Syrians and most of America to not only agree on something but to sit down round a table to thrash out a solution. Now if that ain't influence, I don't know what is. We salute you Secretary of State Kerry.

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