By Jeremy Lott
The Obama administration’s foreign policy in Syria has been a failure by any non-sociopathic measure, a policy quite literally at war with itself. And yet, some high ranking State Department officials want not less but more of this.
To recap the insanity: Our government funded two different “moderate” rebel groups in Syria (CIA-backed Arab rebels and Pentagon-supported Kurdish forces) that mainly went to war with one another rather than take on strongman Bashar Assad or ISIS, the intended targets of those American guns and munitions.
These two groups -- “our guys,” we would normally call them, but that just doesn’t seem appropriate here -- also initially rejected a U.S. proposed ceasefire when our government realized just how badly things had gotten out of hand.
In addition to funding two proxy armies that fought each other, the Obama administration’s commitment to sort-of regime change helped arm and spread ISIS in Syria and Iraq, helped provoke a refugee crisis in Europe that now threatens to undo the European Union and helped cause such a rift with Vladimir Putin that Russia commenced bombing.
You’d think that the U.S. State Department, as the part of our government that is charged with seeking diplomatic solutions to problems, would like to avoid more of that. But you would be wrong.
In what has been dubbed the “Syria Revolt” 51 mid- and high-level state department officials signed a cable last week calling for airstrikes against the Assad regime, whose “systematic violations against the Syrian people are the root cause of the instability that continues to grip Syria and the broader region,” thus continuing to relegate ISIS to “JV” status.
These 51 officials are being framed as brave “dissenters.” But that is not, as the kids say, wholly accurate. Granted, the cable was filed under the State Department’s official “dissent channel,” but there’s an important wrinkle here.
According to multiple press reports over several months, Secretary of State John Kerry agrees with them as he’s been pushing for a no-fly zone and airstrikes with President Obama in private. It was likely at his behest that these dissenters pressed Obama to go in heavy.
There are two problems with their suggested approach. One, it wouldn’t work. Two, President Obama lacks any legal authority to do it.
It wouldn’t work because if this little problem called ISIS. The U.S. government has been trying to find so-called moderate opposition to Syria’s strongman, but that’s a mirage.
If we work to undermine Assad, the likely end result will be like what happened in Libya but on a larger scale: a weak and teetering central government that has no control over al Qaeda, ISIS or other radical Islamist groups. This would be bad for Syrians and worse for America.
And Obama has no legal authority to do so because, according to Constitution, only the Congress can declare war. It hasn’t even given him technical war powers against ISIS for fear that he would take the fight into Syria.
Enough congressmen – Democrats and most assuredly Republicans – have seen where Obama’s State Department-fueled liberal intervention has led us recently, and they don’t want to go there again. It’s hard to blame them.
Jeremy Lott is a senior fellow at Defense Priorities.
This piece was originally published by The American Spectator on June 22, 2016. Read more HERE.