By David Haggith, the Great Recession Blog.
Hillary’s War in Syria is another expensive American adventure in nation building as the US inserts itself into the Syrian Civil War ostensibly to restrain the United States’ sworn enemy ISIS (or “ISIL” as the Obama Admin. prefers). Obama’s manner of fighting this war consistently shows a different objective — regime change. While that’s clear to everyone, Wikileaks’ exposure of Hillary Clinton’s emails makes it clear that US intrusion in the Syrian Civil War is really all about Iran and Israel.
Both the US and Russia want to defeat ISIS, but only the US wants to make sure Syria’s President Bashar Assad is overthrown. The United State’s ulterior motive of regime change is the reason for the stalemate last week between Russia and the United States that resulted in a significant move back to cold-war status. I think everyone has generally observed that the US-Russian disagreement is not about how to fight ISIS but about regime change in Syria. What many might not know yet is how last week’s eruption goes back to Hillary Clinton during her time as Secretary of State.
Wikileaks archive of Clinton emails shows this is Hillary’s War with Syria
The Syrian Civil War began in 2011 — the middle of Hillary Clinton’s term as US Secretary of State. Unmarked NATO war planes began arriving in Turkey that same year, delivering weapons absconded from Libya where America participated in another war for regime change. The planes also transported volunteer Libyan soldiers. (In my view, a mission clearly outside of NATO’s charter, which was to form an alliance under which all members would fight to protect any individual member if it was attacked, not to transform the world. No one in Syria was attacking any NATO member.) By December of 2011, the CIA and US special ops also began providing communication support to Syrian forces seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Having advised President Obama to enter the Libyan Civil War, Hillary Clinton assured the press at the start of the Syrian Civil War that the United States would not similarly involve itself in that conflict. However, some documents exposed recently by Wikileaks show that Hillary’s advice to the president to enter the US into Libya’s Civil War came with a clear and intentional connection to topple the Assad regime:
In one document labeled “CONFIDENTIAL,” Sidney Blumenthal, a former aide to President Bill Clinton and long-time confidante to Hillary Clinton, wrote the following to Hillary:
Assad’ s gestures at reform are delusional attempts to recreate the pattern of his own recent past when he gained a modicum of respect from the West. Likely the most important event that could alter the Syrian equation would be the fall of Qaddafi, providing an example of a successful rebellion. (Wikileaks)
Prior to the fall of Qaddafi, Clinton was being advised to overthrow Qaddafi in order to effect change in Syria. Blumenthal then quotes an article by David W. Lesch, whom he says is “the U.S. expert with the closest relationship with Bashar al- Assad”:
One game-changer [in Syria] could be the fall of Col. Moammar Gadhafi in Libya…. If Gadhafi falls within the next few months, there will be another model for regime change: that of limited but targeted military support from the West combined with an identifiable rebellion. Not that this can be easily applied in Syria. It hasn’t even been easily applied in Libya, and Syria would be a much harder nut to crack. Furthermore, the Syrian opposition is far from united or being able to establish a Benghazi-like refuge from which to launch a rebellion and to which aid can be sent. But if there is regime change in Libya … it would give the Syrian regime something to really think about…. The Syrian regime does not want, nor can it probably survive, long-term international pressure or isolation, but it is used to sanctions…. Success for the rebels in Libya might change that.
US involvement in Libya began at Hillary’s urging shortly after Hillary received this advice from her confidante Sidney Blumenthal. Note that the advice that the overthrow of Qaddafi needed to be connected with “an identifiable rebellion” in Syria means that it needs to be connected with civil war in Syria. US involvement in Libya was, of course, coordinated out of Benghazi, as the advice to Hillary suggested.
Once the fall of Qaddafi was a fait accompli, Hillary’s State Department advocated the overthrow of Bashar Assad as a critical component for calming Israel so that President Barrack Obama could accomplish his legacy nuclear pact with Iran without Israel blowing Iran up before the deal was sealed.
The next document obtained by Wikileaks in its acquisition of Clinton’s emails is not advice to Hillary but subsequent advice from Hillary’s state department to the White House:
Negotiations to limit Iran’s nuclear program will not solve Israel’s security dilemma. Nor will they stop Iran from improving the crucial part of any nuclear weapons program…. Iran’s nuclear program and Syria’s civil war may seem unconnected, but they are….. It is the strategic relationship between Iran and the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria that makes it possible for Iran to undermine Israel’s security … through its proxies in Lebanon, like Hezbollah, that are sustained, armed and trained by Iran via Syria. The end of the Assad regime would end this dangerous alliance. Israel’s leadership understands well why defeating Assad is now in its interests…. Defense Minister Ehud Barak argued that “the toppling down of Assad will be a major blow to the radical axis, major blow to Iran….” Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel’s security, it would also ease Israel’s understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly. Then, Israel and the United States might be able to develop a common view of when the Iranian program is so dangerous that military action could be warranted. Right now, it is the combination of Iran’s strategic alliance with Syria and the steady progress in Iran’s nuclear enrichment program that has led Israeli leaders to contemplate a surprise attack — if necessary over the objections of Washington. With Assad gone, and Iran no longer able to threaten Israel through its, proxies, it is possible that the United States and Israel can agree on red lines for when Iran’s program has crossed an unacceptable threshold. In short, the White House can ease the tension that has developed with Israel over Iran by doing the right thing in Syria…. Only the threat or use of force will change the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s mind…. (Wikileaks)
(Note if you look it up that the Wikileaks document shows dates that refer to when the document was unclassified, not when written. The date of the State Department’s creation of this document can be determined by its content: “the talks between the world’s major powers and Iran that began in Istanbul this April and will continue in Baghdad in May.” The switch from past tense to future tense dates the document sometime between April, 2012, which is when the talks began in Istanbul, and May, 2012, when they continued in Baghdad.)
That same document provides evidence the connection between Hillary’s War in Libya and the next war in Syria clearly became a part the Department of State’s strategy under Hillary: (Note how it states that Libya was an easier case, following the wording in the advice Hillary had been given by Blumenthal about overthrowing Qaddafi as a way to make regime change in Syria more accomplishable.)
The Obama administration has been understandably wary of engaging in an air operation in Syria like the one conducted in Libya. Libya was an easier case…. Other than the laudable purpose of saving Libyan civilians from likely attacks by Qaddafi’s regime, the Libyan operation had no long-lasting consequences for the region. Syria is harder. But success in Syria would be a transformative event for the Middle East…. using territory in Turkey and possibly Jordan, U.S. diplomats and Pentagon officials can start strengthening the opposition. It will take time…. The second step is to develop international support for a coalition air operation. Russia will never support such a mission, so there is no point operating through the UN Security Council. Some argue that U.S. involvement risks a wider war with Russia. But the Kosovo example shows otherwise. In that case, Russia had genuine ethnic and political ties to the Serbs, which don’t exist between Russia and Syria, and even then Russia did little more than complain.
According to this massively revealing document pillaged from Hillary Clinton’s email archives, Obama needed to bring down Assad’s regime in order to calm Israel into accepting the eventual nuclear agreement he was working out with Iran. So, US involvement in the Syrian Civil War is even less about Assad than it is about Iran and Israel — at least in the State Department’s strategizing.
Connect the dots: First, Hillary counseled the president to establish regime change in Libya, the easiest target for such change. Then, with that success weighing on Assad’s fears, the State Department advised seeking regime change in Syria, emphasizing to the president that overthrowing the Assad regime would be essential to his establishment of a nuclear agreement with Iran. The theory was that Assad’s newfound fears from the regime change in Libya coupled with US empowered opposition in his own country, would get him to step down. Underlying the whole plan for regime change in Syria is the motive of weakening Iran, calming Israel and transforming the entire Middle East.
So, Libya was the first hit in a planned one-two punch to Assad that would, in the scheming and collective mind of Hillary’s state department, transform the Middle East. Gaining the presidency right now would put Hillary in office just in time to be the one to see through and reap the benefit of being the president who transformed the Middle East. When it becomes a big success she can tell all about how it was her plan from the beginning and how she saw it through to the end during her presidency.
Where does ISIS/ISIL fit into Hillary’s Wars in Libya and Syria?
If you read the full document, you may be struck as I was by how there is no mention at all of concerns about ISIS/ISIL as a reason to engage in regime change in Syria. That leads me to believe concerns about ISIS were secondary at best in the State Departments advice for US engagement in Syria. Perhaps they were not much more than the necessary cover story for such engagement because many US citizens were already sick and tired of hearing about “regime change.” Regime change was supposed to be the stuff of George Bush, not the center ambition of Hillary’s reset.
The Wikileaks copy of the document from Hillary Clinton’s email archives closes with the clearly ambitious and optimistic goal of resetting all of the Middle East:
Victory may not come quickly or easily, but it will come. And the payoff will be substantial. Iran would be strategically isolated, unable to exert its influence in the Middle East. The resulting regime in Syria will see the United States as a friend, not an enemy. Washington would gain substantial recognition as fighting for the people in the Arab world, not the corrupt regimes. For Israel, the rationale for a bolt from the blue attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be eased. And a new Syrian regime might well be open to early action on the frozen peace talks with Israel…. America can and should help them.
Wow! How much does the State Departments advice sound like the optimistic statements of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld that the US would be greeted as liberators in Iraq once the war was over (other than the the more realistic allowance that success in Syria will take a good deal of time and not be accomplished in a hundred days)?
Whether or not Hillary’s War in Libya is scaring Bashar Assad or inspiring his opponents, it did also nicely provide arms for the follow-on war in Syria. The tidy thing about that arrangement is that it might not be seen as US armaments that were attacking Assad directly, especially if the area arrived with Libyan fighters.
Unfortunately, there were unintended negative consequences as so often happens with US-backed regime changes. The US Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2013 assessed that Turkey had effectively transformed the secret US arms program that was shipping through Turkey from supporting “moderate rebels” (whatever a “moderate rebel” is) into supporting all elements of the Syrian opposition, including al-Nusra and ISIS.
As a result (?), The United States began direct involvement in the Syrian Civil War in September, 2014, by sending jets and Tomahawk missiles under its own command (as opposed to NATO’s) to destroy ISIS targets. The need to actually take US planes in to fight ISIS in the Syrian Civil War became a great concern as soon as it appeared US support of Assad’s opposition actually empowered ISIS. Since the Obama administration had claimed that Bush’s War turned Iraq into an incubator for ISIS, it could hardly let Obama’s covert attempt at regime change in Syria wind up empowering ISIS with US arms via Turkey.
The State Department document recommended an air operation in Syria to overthrow Assad, but it turned out that the US also needed to terminate what was happening with ISIS. Fighting ISIS (without mentioning that we had supplied them with weapons) was a much easier sell than air strikes to create regime change.
Have no fear, though, Hillary already has it all figured out, as the State Department document assures, that a regime friendly toward the US will fill the vacuum in Syria, not one constructed from ISIS. We can only hope that prediction turns out better than Clinton’s prediction that Russia would never get directly involved in the Syrian conflict just because the US was supplying Assad’s opponents.
The State Department document above reveals that regime change in Syria was the primary objective in a masterplan that goes as far back as the Libyan Civil War … just as much as regime-change was the overt objective in Iraq.
The fact that things were not turning out so well in the Iraqi-ISIS incubator meant that the US had to make its efforts in Syria look more about ISIS than about regime change. Even George Bush needed support for his regime-change goal in Iraq, which he found in the notion that he war in Iraq was largely about fighting al Qaeda in Iraq and getting rid of enriched uranium and weapons of mass destruction, not just about liberating the people from a dictator. He could never have sold regime-change as his primary goal, though it was.
This explains why US efforts against ISIS have appeared ineffective. The US has an ulterior motive that is at odds with destroying ISIS. ISIS is useful to the US for the time being because ISIS wants to destroy Bashar Assad as badly as the US does, though with a completely different intended outcome, which is that ISIS rules the Middle East.
The US appears to be running a strategy that is willing to use ISIS where it can to be successful in deposing Assad, but clearly the US does not want to strengthen ISIS to where it becomes the eventual new regime. That final result would completely counter Hillary’s rosy goals of a transformed Middle East that becomes a region that is friendly to the US and safer for Israel.
It’s hard to justify a war directly against Assad, but if ISIS does it, it is completely easy later on to justify a war against ISIS. The US just has to make sure ISIS doesn’t get the upper hand against all of the rest of Assad’s opponents so that they wind up being the ones to fill the power vacuum when Assad is deposed.
That conflict of interests explains why Russia has repeatedly ridiculed the US for being unable to separate the “moderate rebels” it seeks to back (in their attack against Assad) from terrorist groups (like ISIS and al Qaeda) that are also attacking Assad. Operating with mixed motives makes Obama appear inept compared to Putin, whose two motives of protecting Assad and killing ISIS are not in conflict with each other.
While Hillary’s goals might seem (to some) to be worth the means she is taking to get there, these regime changes never turn out that rosy. As shown in the first article of this series, this strategy has already cost the US its nuclear disarmament agreement with Russia and has put the US on the edge of a hot war with Russia. Allowing ISIS to have as much victory against Assad as the US feels is safe in order to try to keep the United States’ hands clean of directly overthrowing Assad is a dangerous strategy. Empowering the enemy of our enemy to fight a war has usually backfired on the US. I find it hard to think of a situation where that strategy hasn’t gone bad for the US and everyone else or where nation-building has worked out well in the last fifty years.
The US would be a safer place and the world a better place if the US stopped trying to reform the world in its image — a grand globalist goal it scarcely can afford any longer.
HILLARY’S WARS (Pt. 2): Wikileaks Proves Syria about Iran & Israel was originally published on Washington's Blog