Flashback! Questions From the Last Time America Was Supposed To ‘Take Out’ Assad

History is a funny thing, because we forget it so easily, and so quickly. That forgetting is usually based on the political needs of the moment, and politicians and the media count on us being that way so they can manipulate us. Works nearly every time, too.

One of the latest versions of this is the media meme that the Syrian quagmire is kinda new-ish, and that the most recent American spurt of 59 cruise missiles into that country represents something, maybe an escalation, maybe a change of policy, maybe some domestic political thingie. To help disprove all that, here’s an article I wrote about a year ago.

Let’s see how that holds up in hindsight.

Quick Summary:

Despite over 400,000 dead and ongoing ground and air campaigns inside the country by the U.S., Russia and several others, 51 US diplomats in 2016 publicly demanded the Obama administration launch strikes directly against Bashir Assad in Syria.

The Assad family has ruled Syria since the 1970s with an iron hand, employing secret police and other standard dictator tricks to suppress dissent. Things got so cozy between Syria and the US that in the early days of the war on terror the CIA was sending “suspects” to Syria for some outsourced torture, as nobody can run a secret prison better than Arabs.

Papa Assad passed away and his son Bashir assumed the presidency in 2000. Some ten years later Assad did the same thing most Arab dictators did, including US allies like Egypt, and ordered crackdowns on Arab Spring protesters. The US then decided in an on-again, off-again fashion to “remove” Assad. When no one in the US really liked the sound of that following the disastrous failed regime changes in Iraq, Libya and Yemen, the US attacked Syria anyway in the name of smiting Islamic State [ISIS]. Assad, whatever else he is, is also at war with ISIS. Some 400,000 Syrians have died so far in the civil war.

And there’s a photo above of Secretary of State and Bashir Assad hanging out in better days. Times change, man.

A Memo

With that as background, 51 mid-level American diplomats took the brave stand of writing a memo (technically known as using the State Department dissent channel.) The memo was promptly leaked to the press [Note this was in mid-2016].

Oh, a memo calling for more war written by people who wear suits and ties to work (technically known as chickenhawks.)

The memo says American policy has been “overwhelmed” by the unrelenting violence in Syria. It calls for “a judicious use of standoff and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed U.S.-led diplomatic process.”

Regime Change

Robert Ford, former ambassador to Syria, said, “Many people working on Syria for the State Department have long urged a tougher policy with the Assad government as a means of facilitating arrival at a negotiated political deal to set up a new Syrian government.”

Regime change. Bloody change, as it seems odd to imagine Assad would negotiate his own…

Read more