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State Department up in Arms over Obama Syria Policy

Walter Russell Mead

The big story leading the news this morning is the dissenting cable signed by dozens of U.S. diplomats roundly criticizing President Barack Obama’s Syria policy—a massive demonstration of the State Department’s lack of confidence in a policy that will be a stain on this administration’s legacy. The FT:

The “dissent channel cable”, written by more than 50 officials at the US state department, calls for air strikes against the Syrian government to force it to negotiate a settlement to the conflict.

The use of US air power against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad would represent a dramatic shift in US policy on Syria and has consistently been rejected by President Barack Obama, who is deeply reluctant to get more involved in the Syrian conflict beyond the campaign against Isis.

The nature of the contents of the internal memo, first reported by the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, was confirmed by a US official.

Millions displaced, hundreds of thousands killed, both Europe and the Middle East destabilized, Obama’s international credibility damaged beyond repair, and America’s bitter enemies handed a major victory as the flames of religious radicalism burn hotter than ever: these are the fruits of a Syria policy that President Obama is still sure shows how much wiser he is than everyone else in American foreign policy.

Never has a President’s policy had so much pushback from his own high officials and appointees. Never has a President defied so much evidence to insist on the unique cerebral brilliance of a policy in ruins. The epitaph for Obama’s Middle East policy will be taken from the Book of Common Prayer: “He has done those things which he ought not to have done (Libya) and hath left undone those things which he ought to have done (Syria), and there is no health in it.”

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