What Is Missing From the Memo 51 US Diplomats Signed Urging Strikes Against Assad in Syria

Despite over 400,000 dead and ongoing ground and air campaigns inside the country by the U.S., Russia and several others, 51 US diplomats are publicly demanding the Obama administration launch strikes directly against Bashir Assad in Syria.

Quick Summary:

The Assad family has ruled Syria since the 1960s with an iron hand, employing secret police and other standard dictator tricks to suppress dissent. Things got so cozy between Syria and the US that in the early days of the war on terror the CIA was sending “suspects” to Syria for some outsourced torture, as nobody can run a secret prison better than Arabs.

Papa Assad passed away and his son Bashir assumed the presidency in 2000. Some ten years later Assad did the same thing most Arab dictators did, including US allies like Egypt, and ordered crackdowns on Arab Spring protesters. The US then decided in an on-again, off-again fashion to “remove” Assad. When no one in the US really liked the sound of that following the disastrous regime changes in Iraq, Libya and Yemen, the US attacked Syria anyway in the name of smiting Islamic State [ISIS]. Assad, whatever else he is and he is no doubt a real bastard, is also at war with ISIS. Some 400,000 Syrians have died so far in the civil war.

And there’s a photo above of Secretary of State and Bashir Assad hanging out in better days. Times change, man.

A Memo

With that as background, 51 mid-level American diplomats took the brave stand of writing a memo (technically known as using the State Department dissent channel.) The memo was promptly leaked to the press.

Oh, a memo calling for more war written by people who wear suits and ties to work (technically known as chickenhawks.)

The memo says American policy has been “overwhelmed” by the unrelenting violence in Syria. It calls for “a judicious use of standoff and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed U.S.-led diplomatic process.”

Regime Change

Robert Ford, former ambassador to Syria, said, “Many people working on Syria for the State Department have long urged a tougher policy with the Assad government as a means of facilitating arrival at a negotiated political deal to set up a new Syrian government.”

Regime change. Bloody change, as it seems odd to imagine Assad would negotiate his own ouster.

What the Memo Left Out

The dissent memo makes no suggestions, actually no mention at all, about who would succeed Assad, or how this regime change would be any different than the failed tries in Iraq, Libya or Yemen, or how ISIS, who also seeks the end of the Assad regime through violence, would not be further empowered, or how the US would get away with airstrikes given the overt Russian support for the Assad regime. Everyone except for those brave memo-ists has seen this movie before.

Also missing from the memo are any notes on what if any military service the 51 signatories have amongst them, or why this call for more blood comes from the State Department and not from the military, whose commanders have raised questions about what would happen in the event that Assad was forced from power. Their questions are likely motivated by the fact that they would be asked to risk their lives to clean the mess.

Finally, no one seems to remember anymore why “we” need to “take out” Assad. He is no doubt a terrible person who kills to protect his power. But leaders like that are not in short supply across the Middle East, in Africa and places like North Korea. It seems a more specific rationale, tied directly to some clear US strategic interest, is needed (remember, Assad is fighting ISIS and has never sought to export terror to the US) Assad also enjoys support inside his country by some minority, who will not go away quietly if he is changed out. See what happened to the Baathists in Iraq, who organized some of the first resistance to the US, and went on to help staff up ISIS.

That said, it sure is a nicely-typed memo. Luckily no one in Washington pays much attention anymore to the State Department. So, State, go back to what you do best: hiding emails, and leave this stuff to the adults.

BONUS: Funny thing about that “dissent” memo. It seems that the dissent expressed in fact parallels the feelings of Secretary of State John Kerry, and possible next-president Hillary Clinton, that the US should attack Assad directly. Leave it to State t find a way to change dissent into ass-kissing.

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. His latest book is Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent. Reprinted from the his blog with permission.

6 thoughts on “What Is Missing From the Memo 51 US Diplomats Signed Urging Strikes Against Assad in Syria”

  1. It’s Robert Ford. He’s never been to a country that he didn’t want to take over or met a person he didn’t want to kill. Ultimate neocon, the likes of him go down with the supporters of all the mad butchers of humanity. Ford has never done anything for the benefit of mankind. He knows how to topple a regime, how to bomb power plants, take over a bridge, that sort of thing—you know, like a destructive child. But, he doesn’t know anything about building a better future. History is filled with these type guys. Nothing positive to contribute and the world will be much better when they are gone.

  2. Syria should try to be more like Mexico, or Honduras or even civilized Colombia – all glowing examples of military-industrial-governmental complexes that ‘do real good’.

  3. The incredible part to me is that these are the people who wholeheartedly support Hillary and I’m sure that if she is President that she will lead the charge. (metaphorically speaking)

    I think that if they were so foolhardy as to take this course of action that Russia would not only stand by Assad but go in and really stomp the living crap out of any of the rebels regardless of who is arming, supporting over even embedded in their groups. This of course would mean that US special forces would be killed by Russia, most likely leading to further escalation.

    Hillary is truly a danger to life as we know it.

  4. Ward Churchill got into a long shitstorm by using the term “Little Eichmanns” to describe chickenhawk neocons. and to think it’s only a couple of decades that neocon and chickenhawk became actually english words as defined by the Oxford Dictionary. Who themselves were sued by a well known American fat food enterprise for including the words McJob and fat food. Cheer up, though, fellow thinking humanoids

    The more shit they put into the pool the more shit they have to swim in. (To end a sentence a preposition with) It will end in tears for their side. Whatever that side is. They will drown in their own feces. It won’t be a pretty sight, but I feel confident that I could get over it.

  5. I believe Iraq would be happy to have Saddam back if only they had not killed him , And I believe Gaddaffy would easily win a election in Libya by a landside if only they had not killed him too . Maybe the United States is not helping the rest of the world like we pretend to be doing ?

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