Syria is Obama’s shame
incremental, tentative and very cautious approach to the war, particularly the lack of resolve of the Clinton administration to compel the Serbs to end their atrocities against the Muslim Bosnians. The Clinton administration continued its muddling through until Serb forces in the summer of 1995 massacred methodically and in cold blood more than 7000 Bosnian men of all ages at the village of Srebrenica. The guilt generated by the shame of Srebrenica, the worst mass killing on European soil since WWII, which tarnished America’s credibility as the leader of the NATO alliance finally forced President Clinton, before the onset of his campaign for reelection to decisively use military power to force the Serbs to accept a political outcome. or because they can find other careers. Senior officials rarely resign over moral and political objections to a president’s policies.
The last senior official to resign over a principled disagreement was Cyrus R. Vance, who quit in 1980 to protest President Jimmy Carter’s decision to attempt to rescue American hostages held in Iran. The Syria crisis led two ambassadors, Fred Hof and Robert Ford in 2012 and 1214 to resign out of frustration with President Obama’s handling of the Syrian tragedy. Former senior officials who served in Obama’s first term including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency David Petraeus have disagreed with aspects of President Obama’s Syria policies, but none of them resigned in protest. Secretary of State John Kerry has called on occasions for a more robust approach to Syria, and he is believed to share some of the views expressed in the dissent message, but he is the muddling through type of a senior official who would never contemplate resignation.
A slow, rolling genocide: President Assad has avoided committing large scale massacres like Srebrenica; he prefers the non-stop grinding methodical killings that produce many a Srebrenica over weeks and months, for Syria has been nothing if not a slow, rolling genocide. After stating that Assad’s “systematic violations against the Syrian people are the root cause of the instability that continues to grip Syria and the broader region”, the draft calls for “a judicious use of stand-off and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hardnosed U.S.-led diplomatic process”. Without initiating targeted military strikes to stop the regime’s repeated violations of the Cessation of Hostilities there will be no real ceasefire and no serious negotiations. The draft says the current policies are leading nowhere.
“With the repeated diplomatic setbacks of the past five years, together with the Russian and Iranian governments’ cynical and destabilizing deployment of significant military power to bolster the Assad regime, we believe that the foundation are not currently in place for an enduring ceasefire and consequential negotiations”. The draft correctly states that “an undeterred Assad will resist compromises sought by almost all opposition factions and regional actors. Shifting the tide of the conflict against the regime will increase the chances for peace by sending a clear signal to the regime and its backers that there will not be a military solution to the conflict”.
The draft sees that“a more assertive U.S. role to protect and preserve opposition-held communities, by defending them from Assad’s air force and artillery, presents the best chance for defeating Daesh (ISIS) in Syria.” Why? Because “the prospects for rolling back Daesh’s hold on territory are bleak without the Sunni Arabs, who the regime continues to bomb and starve”. The draft warns that, “a de facto alliance with the regime against Daesh would not guarantee success: Assad’s military in undermanned and exhausted.
Kurdish YPG fighters cannot-and should not- be expected to project power and hold terrain deep into non-Kurdish areas. And, crucially, Syria’s Sunni population continues to view the Assad regime as the primary enemy in the conflict”. The draft correctly states that stopping the regime’s atrocities would have a mitigating impact on the refugee and internally displaced Syrians whose plight “has deeply affected Syria’s neighbors for years and is now impacting our European partners in far-reaching ways that may ultimately jeopardize their very character as open, unified and democratic societies”.