State Department wants to court World War III for the sake of hooking up Jabhat al-Nusra with an air force
The lunatics haven't quite taken over the asylum yet, but they're sure making a go at it.
Just a day after Kerry warned Russians that his patience was "very limited" and that he was "not going to sit there" while the Syrian government with Russian help retakes Aleppo his underlings have issued a demand that Obama orders US military to wage war on the Syrian state. The New York Times reports:
More than 50 State Department diplomats have signed an internal memo sharply critical of the Obama administration’s policy in Syria, urging the United States to carry out military strikes against the government of President Bashar al-Assad to stop its persistent violations of a cease-fire in the country’s five-year-old civil war.
The State Department set up the channel during the Vietnam War as a way for employees who had disagreements with policies to register their protest with the secretary of state and other top officials, without fear of reprisal.
While dissent cables are not that unusual, the number of signatures on this document, 51, is extremely large, if not unprecedented.
The names on the memo are almost all midlevel officials — many of them career diplomats — who have been involved in the administration’s Syria policy over the last five years, at home or abroad.
They range from a Syria desk officer in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs to a former deputy to the American ambassador in Damascus.
While there are no widely recognized names, higher-level State Department officials are known to share their concerns.
Mr. Kerry himself has pushed for stronger American action against Syria, in part to force a diplomatic solution on Mr. Assad.
In other words, the mid-level officials are saying what the top officials who have to keep quiet are thinking. This is the prevalent mood in the Syria-specialized US diplomatic corps, as attested by the sheer number of signatories and Kerry's fighting words the day before.
What can one say to that?
Firstly, isn't it grand that it in a bizarro world that is the imperial capital its "diplomats" at the State Department are its most bloodthirsty bunch?
Never mind the generals, the president, or even the spooks. It's the people whose jobs is how to know to communicate with others and get things done peacefully that can never get enough of lobbing cruise missiles at foreigners.
And what an especially crazed idea this is this time!
Carrying out strikes against the Syrian army while the latter fights under the air cover of the Russian air force? How is that anything but a recipe for a war with Russia?
What do these people think is going to happen when US and Russian aircraft meet in Syrian skies and they're bombing opposing sides?
Fortunately Obama for all his faults (and body count) isn't quite this stupid:
The president has resisted such pressure, and has been backed up by his military commanders, who have raised questions about what would happen in the event that Mr. Assad was forced from power — a scenario that the draft memo does not address.
Still, Mr. Obama has shown little sign of shifting his focus from the campaign against the Islamic State — a strategy that probably acquired even more urgency after the mass shooting Sunday in Orlando, Fla.
Where Obama used to purposefuly neglect the war on ISIS in Syria he is now pouring real resources into it -- up to the point where United States' war on ISIS in Syria has a bigger footprint than its proxy war against Assad.
Before the Russian intervention ISIS was de facto tolerated because it put extra pressure on Assad. However, with the Russians moving in and strengthening Assad's position Obama has gradually come to accept that Syrian regime change was unlikely during his term.
Tolerating ISIS therefore ceased to serve any purpose, whereas going after ISIS could still set up Obama for the history books -- if not as the great liberator of Syria from the Baath -- then at at least as the president who got the rollback of ISIS rolling.
Of course, while Obama has now unleashed the Pentagon against ISIS he is also the person who originally enabled its rise. As I summed up just days ago:
It was US efforts to destabilize the Baath regime in Syria and fan the flames of Syria conflict that led to the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq both. At the time the US poured weapons into Syria but supposedly this would in no way decisively aid ISIS (then still ISI but usually referred to as Al-Qaeda in Iraq) because as Obama explained the group was 'JV league'.
As it was ISI took the weapons and money it acquired in Syria to carve out a state for itself in eastern Syria and used that as a springboard to conquer half of Iraq.
This is what makes the State Department protestations all the more galling. Like a spurned lover the State Department is blasting Obama because these days the latter is more likely to indulge the Pentagon -- a rival imperial bureaucracy.
However, the Pentagon's war on ISIS is a classical example of an intervention to fix the fallout from the previous intervention. US war against ISIS would never be necessary in the first place if the US hadn't first poured millions of dollars into its proxy war against the Syrian state -- as per wishes and advice of State Department at the time.
So not only have US 'diplomats' caused this mess, they're now complaining violently that the US is not making it worse fast enough. How outrageous is that? These days only mildly so.
Russian Shot Across the Bow?
In latest news the 'New Syrian Army' opposition militia claims it has been struck by Russian warplanes with two killed and ten wounded.
This particular outfit is Pentagon-trained and holds a piece of Syrian desert on the Jordanian border. Since its entry into Syria earlier this year it has only clashed with ISIS.
Breaking: Pentagon says Russian warplanes bombed US backed Syrian rebels near Jordanian border. US querying Moscow— Barbara Starr (@barbarastarrcnn)June 17, 2016
I am inclined to think these were not Russian, but Syrian air force strikes instead. The reasons are:
1) Russia has very rarely struck targets this far south in Syria
2) Reportedly there are British special forces embedded with the New Syrian Army so this would be particularly dangerous
3) It's out of character for Russia given its obvious attempts at appeasing the US. Until two weeks ago Russia had -- as per US pleas -- even largely refrained from bombing the al-Nusra Front. To go from not bombing al-Qaeda to bombing Pentagon's favorite baby would be a very radical escalation in a very short amount of time.
However, if the Russians did indeed hit the "New Syrian Army" then this was likely a shot across the bow.
It's possible that at a time when Kerry is threatening Russians over Aleppo and the State Department is demanding strikes against the Syrian government and army, that Russians would want to demonstrate what the consequences of such a turn would be -- which is that the Russians would strike Pentagon assets in Syria before these would be turned against them and their Syrian allies.