The State Department Shouldn’t Declare War
Some people love war. There’s Eisenhower’s “Military-Industrial Complex.” They want to make money from war, and want us to throw more tax dollars at armament companies, even though the U.S. is already spending more than the next 15 countries, COMBINED. Then, there are those who like to cry wolf, because fear is a grea-aaaaaate tool for manipulating people into supporting a political agenda. But now, so-called “diplomats” are ramping up the war talk, too.
Fifty-one members of the State Department (not the Defense Department) have signed a petition, demanding that we attack Syria, which means attacking Russia.
At least 51 “mid-to-high-level State Department officials” have signed a dissent channel cable breaking with President Barack Obama’s policy on Syria and calling for US airstrikes on the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. . .
The officials who signed the document “range from a Syria desk officer in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs to a former deputy to the American ambassador in Damascus,” and have all been involved in formulating or carrying out the administration’s Syria policy.
That policy has largely emphasized defeating the Islamic State over bolstering Syria’s anti-Assad rebel groups. . .
The cable calls for the Obama administration to place more emphasis on defeating Assad – whose brutality is seen by many experts as the driver of Syria’s jihadist problem. . .
Let’s look at this. And I admit that this is my opinion, with which you may disagree.
The Administration has purposely focused on attacking ISIS, which is what the American people (and Obama opponents) have said they want. Instead, these “diplomats”—whose responsibility is to carry out these orders—want to have us go to war with both sides of the very same war, instead.
Note that this would put us at war with Russia, which is supporting Assad.
The fact is that Syria has been in the Russian sphere of influence since the 1950s. Syria is not an “American interest.” In addition, as former Secretary of State Colin Powell once said, it’s like Pottery Barn—you break it, you own it. That is, if we get back into “nation building” in Syria, after many billions in war, even if we were successful, it would be our responsibility to rebuild their society—spending many billions more.
What we should have done, is meet with Russia, and support their effort to put Syria back together. There would be no ISIS if we had not disbanded the Iraqi army, and later, undermined Assad in Syria. The expense would have been Russia’s, and we could have focused on supporting Iraq, with major powers working together to kick ISIS out of the area. And by working together, we’d have a better chance of encouraging Russia to lean on Assad to clean up his act, after the fact. This is where Obama has failed.
The Administration’s goal is to focus on ISIS, and not Assad. If these “diplomats” disagree, they should resign, since they don’t want to do their job. If Obama is showing weakness, it is in tolerating this direct attack from within his own administration.
It gets worse. The same article points out that our own CIA has already been at war with our own military!
The CIA-backed factions of the Free Syrian Army – the majority of which are Arab and battling forces loyal to Assad – have at times clashed with Pentagon-trained fighters associated with the Syrian Democratic Forces, who are predominantly Kurdish and focused on defeating the Islamic State.
Their divergent military objectives and ethnicities have bred mistrust and fighting that is ultimately counterproductive to the cause of the revolution.
And, of course, the article brings up the silly “Red Line” argument.
Assad crossed Obama’s now infamous “red line” for airstrikes in 2013, when he used chemical weapons to kill more than 1,000 people in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta. Obama backed away from that red line when Assad agreed to a Russia-brokered deal to destroy his chemical-weapons stockpile.
That assertion is total nonsense.
Here’s the impromptu news conference–August 20, 2012–where the supposed “Red Line” was mentioned.
The press conference was already underway, when Obama walked in—why? to talk about health care.
1) He gave an 18-line statement, saying Medicare has saved 5.4 million seniors $4.1 billion on prescription drugs.
2) Jim Kuhnhenn asked what Obama thought of Senate Candidate Todd Akin’s discredited comments on rape. Obama gave a 19-line answer, treating it as a health care issue.
3) Nancy Cordes asked about Romney’s tax returns. Obama gave 42 lines, saying his reelection campaign was about putting people back to work—and extending health care.
4) In a follow-up question, she asked why Obama hasn’t condemned an ad that suggests that Romney was responsible for a woman’s death, because he hasn’t supported health-care reform. Obama used 32 lines to say he can’t tell a SuperPac what to run.
5) Jake Tapper had two questions. One was recent attacks by Afghan military on UN forces. The second was what Obama will do to grow the economy. Obama gave 31 lines on the Afghans, and 47 lines on the economy.
6) Jake Tapper then got a third question—about making Syria’s chemical weapons safe. And, he added a fourth question—again—whether Obama thinks Romney is telling us everything about his tax returns. Obama gave 26 lines on Romney, and 40 lines about Syria, saying the international community thinks Assad should go, that we’ve sent $82 million in humanitarian supplies, and then, he issued his “Red Line.” Let’s quote that directly:
We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.
Personally, I have been annoyed at Obama’s effort to counter his “professor” image by using words like “folks,” and in this case, “a whole bunch.” Colloquialisms tend to be imprecise. However, it’s pretty clear that Assad did NOT cross this red line. He did not use “a whole bunch” of chemical weapons, and he did not give them to terrorist organizations. That was Obama’s real “Red Line.”
It was an afterthought. Health care got 37 lines. Romney got 99 lines. Afghanistan got 31 lines. The economy got 47 lines. At the very end, Syria got 40 lines. Hardly a major part (less than 16%) of the impromptu press conference.
And what was the result of Obama’s response to Syria? The chemical weapons were removed from the country altogether. The guy never seems to get credit for anything.
However, I do feel that this current situation, in which State Department “diplomats” are contradicting their direct orders, and urging military action, calls for a rebuke. The fact that Obama will just see it as an impotent attack that won’t change anything doesn’t change the fact that Obama’s authority has been challenged, and again, he has allowed it.
Filed in: Commentary Tagged in: john kerry President Obama state department syria