5 Takeaways from the Syria Memo to Hillary Clinton
This is “global leadership?”
Daniel Lazare writes about the The Memo that Killed Half a Million People in Syria, in which former diplomat James P. Rubin recommended the overthrow of Syria’s Assad regime to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Clinton, in turn, persuaded President Obama to pursue this policy, which continued under Clinton successor John Kerry.
Here are my takeaways from the memo:
- U.S. foreign policy is ignorant. Just like the George W. Bush Administration before it, the Obama Administration knew virtually nothing about the Middle East or its dynamics. Rubin actually assumed rebel victory in Syria was possible, and that the new regime would be friendly to the United States. Not only was this not going to happen, but Assad, brutal dictator though he was, protected the rights of Christians, Jews, and other religious minorities. The radical Islamist rebels, had they prevailed, certainly would not.
- U.S. foreign policy is NOT about the security of the U.S. The U.S. is hostile toward Iran because Israel views Iran as its #1 enemy. The U.S. wanted to overthrow Assad because he’s aligned with Iran. But let’s remember that the U.S. has no mutual defense treaty with Israel. Taking sides in Syria’s civil war did nothing to enhance U.S. security, and only led to a prolonged civil war with half a million dead. The memo treats the U.S. as a parent spoiling the unpredictable child Israel: let’s do what Israel wants, or we don’t know what Israel will do! But how is it any of our business? Does Paraguay worry about Israel? Does Switzerland? Singapore? Why should the U.S.?
- Blowback is unpredictable, except when it isn’t. The U.S. aided forces resisting the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan in the 1980’s, and they became Al Qaeda. We know what happened on 9/11. Likewise, the U.S. aided Syrian rebels. They became ISIS, and committed terrorist attacks in the U.S. and in NATO ally France. Why are we surprised when bad guys bite the hand that feeds them? They’re bad guys!
- This is why we have conspiracy theories. It is hard to fathom the sheer stupidity of Rubin’s memo, or why Clinton and Obama agreed with it. It’s almost more comforting to believe the “ruling class” is composed of evil masterminds, not arrogant dimwits. As the comedian Monique Marvez has said, “I’m not afraid of evil because I’ll match wits with the devil. Stupid scares me because it’s random.”
- Democrats must learn from this. Hillary’s record as Secretary of State certainly did not help her in the 2016 Presidential election. Americans are tired of the constant meddling overseas. They’re tired of policing the world and don’t want to take sides in civil wars. If Democrats are to take the White House in 2020, they must nominate a candidate more dovish than Trump, even though the clueless Beltway Establishment will demand someone more hawkish.
Our “leaders,” regardless of party, are dangerously incompetent, and countless innocent people die from their errors. This Syria memo is Exhibit A.