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National Security Desk / June 18, 2016

State Memo to Obama: Use Military Force Against Assad

Further proof that Obama’s foreign policy in Syria is a mess.

Further proof that Barack Obama’s foreign policy in Syria is a mess: 51 diplomats in the State Department signed a memo that called for the administration to take a tougher stance in Syria. The memo was submitted through the Department’s “dissent channel” and apparently leaked — either to intimidate the signees or to draw more attention to their dissent from Obama’s Syrian strategy. It called for Obama to use America’s air power to strike Syrian forces commanded by Bashar al-Assad over the dictator’s repeated human rights abuses. You know, actually enforce the infamous “red line.”

“This is remarkable,” marveled The Wall Street Journal. “These rebels aren’t the ‘neocons’ of liberal myth. They are career diplomats whose mission is to pursue the peace through diplomacy that Mr. Obama invokes as his highest foreign-policy principle. Yet they are indicting Mr. Obama’s Syrian diplomacy as a strategic and moral failure.”

But a more aggressive stance toward the dictator — who has gassed and barrel-bombed his own civilians and partly fueled the refugee crisis that has allowed the Islamic State to sneak into Europe — is fraught with diplomatic danger. Assad is propped up by Russia and any attack on him will anger Vladimir Putin. (In fact, Russia just bombed a U.S.-backed rebel group.) Is America able to risk Cold War 2.0 after Obama has reduced the U.S. military’s fighting capability by turning it into a social-engineering experiment?

Finally, don’t forget: This news comes on the heels of CIA Director John Brennan’s warning about the growing threat of the Islamic State. Blame for that falls squarely on Obama.

(Edited.)

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