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Diplomatic Revolt on Syria Policy

Posted June 17th, 2016 at 12:54 pm (UTC-4)
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51 U.S. diplomatic officials took the advantage of a a legally protected channel to express their dissent with Obama administration policy in Syria, and called for the use of targeted military strikes against the Syrian government.

People salvage goods from an aid convoy that was damaged during an airstrike in the rebel held area of al-Sakhour district of Aleppo, Syria June 4, 2016. (Reuters)

People salvage goods from an aid convoy that was damaged during an airstrike in the rebel held area of al-Sakhour district of Aleppo, Syria June 4, 2016. (Reuters)

The cable came from the State Department’s Dissent Channel, designed to give the Secretary of State and others an opportunity to hear alternative or dissenting perspectives from official U.S. policy.

This comes on the heels of criticism from Sen. John McCain in which he blamed President Obama and his policies regarding Iraq and Syria for the mass shooting in Orlando last Saturday.

Obama’s policies regarding Syria has been well chronicled (see “The Obama Doctrine” by The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg) and subjected to dissection by some of the world’s foremost experts on foreign policy.

American Diplomats Call for Bombing Syria

Elliott Abrams – Council on Foreign Relations

Such dissent channel memos are very rare and almost always written by one man or woman. I cannot recall one being signed by dozens of diplomats. But then again, it is hard to recall a policy as dangerous and inhumane as Obama policy in Syria.

Diplomats rarely do this sort of thing–official, written dissents–because it is not generally good for their careers….

Career diplomats in the State Department, in my experience, do not run around calling for bombing campaigns very often. Unsurprisingly, they usually call for diplomacy–but at least in this case are able to see that diplomacy unsupported by strength is foolishness, mere words, not a policy but a substitute for policy. They have manned the desks handling Mr. Kerry’s Syria negotiations in Geneva, and been embarrassed by the effort.

What America Keeps Getting Wrong in the Middle East

Amb. Chas Freeman – The National Interest

The next administration will inherit a greatly diminished capacity to influence the evolution of the Middle East.  Amidst the imbecilities of our interminably farcical election season, it has proven expedient to blame this on President Obama. If only he had bombed Syria, repudiated his predecessor’s agreement to withdraw the U.S. military from Iraq, refused to compromise with Iran on nuclear matters, knuckled under to Netanyahu, or whatever, the old order in the Middle East would be alive and well and the United States would still call the shots there.

But this is nonsense.  Our estrangement from the Middle East derives from trends that are much deeper than the manifest deficiencies of executive and congressional leadership in Washington.  Americans and our partners in the Middle East have developed contradictory interests and priorities.  Where shared values existed at all, they have increasingly diverged.  There have been massive changes in geo-economics, energy markets, power balances, demographics, religious ideologies, and attitudes toward America (not just the U.S. government).  Many of these changes were catalyzed by historic American policy blunders.  In the aggregate, these blunders are right up there with the French and German decisions to invade Russia and Japan’s surprise attack on the United States.  Their effects make current policies not just unsustainable but counterproductive..

Smoke and flame rise after what fighters of the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) said were U.S.-led air strikes on the mills of Manbij where Islamic State militants are positioned, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria June 16, 2016. (Reuters)

Smoke and flame rise after what fighters of the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) said were U.S.-led air strikes on the mills of Manbij where Islamic State militants are positioned, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria June 16, 2016. (Reuters)

Obama’s ISIS Failure

James Poulos – The Week

So here is a truth that may make you squirm: The most direct and final means to ending this new wave of terror is to do more — much more — against ISIS than President Obama wants to do….

A more definitive, aggressive, and immediate strategy against the Islamic State would offer Americans a point of unity, resolve, and agency that’s conspicuously lacking elsewhere….If Orlando has made the culture war look more debilitating than ever, it has also made the war against ISIS look more urgent than ever.

President Obama might disagree. But with every passing day, his opinion matters less and less. And come the new year, it will have no impact on policy at all.

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