Friday, June 17, 2016

A Motley Crew of State Department ‘Diplomats’ Demand War on Assad (and Russia)

By Daniel McAdams

In a move that the New York Times reports is nearly unprecedented, some 51 mid-level State Department employees have signed a letter calling for the Obama Administration to begin bombing the Assad government in Syria immediately.
Demonstrating the reality that the “soft power” of diplomacy is in fact just a front for the “hard power” of bombs, these “diplomats” demanded the administration immediately initiate:
[A] judicious use of stand-off and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed US-led diplomatic process.
Yes, to these supposed trained “diplomats,” the “diplomatic process” consists of making final demands after the military has bombed your opponent to hell.
The memo was filed in what is known as the “dissent channel,” where State Department employees who disagree with current policy can register their dissent without fear of reprisals.
What are these supposed diplomats furious about? Why do they demand that the US begin actively bombing the secular Assad government? They accuse the Syrian government of ceasefire violations because when Syrian forces attack al-Qaeda’s Nusra front, the US-backed forces who fight alongside al-Qaeda are also caught up in the attack.
One might think these State Department employees would better spend their energy urging the US administration to demand that its “moderate” rebels in Syria stop intermingling with al-Qaeda.
The State Department employees are also furious that the Obama Administration has been too focused on fighting ISIS in Syria and not focused enough on fighting the Assad regime. According to the New York Times article:
[T]he State Department officials argued that military action against Mr. Assad would help the fight against the Islamic State because it would bolster moderate Sunnis, who are necessary allies against the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
Of course this is more of the kind of fantasy-based analysis that led to the brilliant idea of overthrowing Gaddafi in Libya because it would bolster democratic-minded forces there and result in a model moderate, representative government in the country. We all know how fantasy-based foreign policy works out. The examples are too numerous.
To normal people living in the actual reality-based community, the idea that the US should attack the main opponent of ISIS (Assad) to bolster the fight against ISIS seems idiotic. But then most people who live in reality are not the ill-informed, ideology-driven generalist Foreign Service Officers who likely make up the majority of those who signed the letter.
Additionally, the frayed thread that the Obama Administration hangs onto to justify its attack on sovereign Syria is that ISIS poses a clear and present danger to the US and therefore the US military must be involved in Syria (absurdly using the 9/11 military authorization as a fig leaf). Take away that transparently thin rationale and behind it you have pure, naked US aggression against a country that poses no threat to the United States and is fighting the kind of radical Islamist insurgency that one might expect the US would also oppose.
As John Kerry himself said:
You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text.
This move by State Department employees mirrors a similar dissent launched at the time also by Foreign Service Officers during the Clinton Administration demanding that the US become more militarily involved in the crises stemming from the post-communist break-up of Yugoslavia. We also know how that worked out.
What does it mean when a country’s diplomatic apparatus demands that it engage in aggressive war even to the risk of a nuclear conflict with Russia? Something is deeply rotten in the empire. The rot goes deep. And it threatens all of us.
How to fight this rot? Join the Ron Paul Institute this September in Washington, D.C. for a conference that will demand an end to the crazed militarism of the neocons who control our foreign policy.
UPDATE: A former State Department analyst writes in:
Out of over 6500 ‘generalist’ Foreign Service Officers, just some 50 or so signatories using the ‘dissent’ channel likely means the group cannot claim to be representative of the FSO Corps at large — not to mention that the number is around 13,000 when including the foreign service specialists as well.
In all likelihood, the dissenters are a motley crowd of neocons or neocon-leaning rabid, regime-change, trigger-happy warmonger.
So I would consider political, ideological composition of the group. Specifically, why did the signatories had to resort to the ‘dissent’ channel if it’s bellicose anti-Assad sentiment enjoys widespread support at the Department?
Good points!
The above originally appeared at

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