President Obama is facing increasing pressure to change his policies in Syria to become more aggressive. More than 50 diplomats have dissented from the Obama Administration’s policy in Syria, insisting that the US use more military action and increase involvement in the conflict.
These so-called diplomats are asking for disaster in the name of diplomatic and moral convictions. They wish to assert “a judicious use of stand-off and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed US-led diplomatic process.” Surprisingly, it is the military officials who are the voices of reason–stating that increased attacks on Assad would be unwise.
Military escalation does not bring about negotiations; as our 15 year “war on terror” since 9/11 has shown, it increases violence. Phyllis Bennis states, “Though the cable also calls for an increased diplomatic effort, they do so in the context of saying that greater military attacks will somehow bring Assad to the table. And there simply is no evidence of that—quite the contrary. The notion that the military engagement itself is what is preventing potential success for a greater diplomatic engagement is simply not taken seriously.”
Obama, Kerry, and our senators and representatives need to hear that increased military engagement proposed by the memo will not produce a ceasefire and a peaceful solution to this humanitarian crises.
Write a letter to President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and Congress urging them to resist this political pressure to escalate the war. Ask that they instead search for alternative non-military strategies and diplomacy to promote peace in Syria.
The efforts to promote non-violent resistance have been weak and local efforts to resolve differences have not been encouraged. In fact, the war has become an increasingly bloody contest for power among dozens of groups and has drawn the participation of not only the United States but also Russia, France, Britain, Iran, Israel, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, as well as Hezbollah, Kurdish groups, ISIS, al-Qaeda, and militants from Iraq and around the world. This full-scale civil, fueled in part by the US, has had the greatest consequences for innocent Syrian civilians who experience the horrors of war: violence, death, and displacement.
Our goal cannot be to remove the internationally recognized secular government of Bashar al-Assad. Deposing Assad in this “illegal” war would lead to a power vacuum… and then what? The writers of the memo have no plans for what happens next. As of now, the vacuum would most likely be filled by ISIS or another sectarian, extremist group.
The United States’ series of regime changes in the Middle East have proven to be disastarous to the stability and development of those nations, which has destroyed expectations for a normal civil society. The Syrian people should not be sbujected to the same predictable effects of US backed regime change; they should be allowed to decide the course of their country and future.
Further escalation in Syria will also antagonize Russia and threaten our already delicate relationship. Current tensions on the Russian border due to various NATO infringements have added to a fragile and tense situation. Targeted US military attacks on Assad are not a viable strategy in the Middle East. Bennis believes that the state department officials are moving in a dangerous direction “because what they’re proposing is the kind of escalation that is certain to lead to more political confrontation with Russia and threatens the possibility that that confrontation could become more than just political.”
51 diplomats expressing their dissent is no small number. It suggests a growing voice for intervention that is spreading through Washington. In the current presidential race, the dissent cable has big implications. The presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton, supports a no-fly zone in Syria. She and officials have shown that they are willing to implement hawkish policies and seemingly willing to go to war with Russia.
Obama and Congress need to stop sending military funds to arm and train sectarian groups, diplomatically prevent US allies from further engaging in the Syrian conflict, give humanitarian aid to refugees through the UN, and maintenance of a cease fire.