If you read the available accounts of Obama's conduct of war -- Sanger's Confront and Conceal
and Woodward's Obama's Wars
-- it becomes obvious that Hillary Clinton has usually pursued what one might call a "moderately hawkish" position. Always keeping one eye on 2016, she never does anything too extreme or too obvious. But behind the scenes, her advice has usually leaned conservative.
She continues that "soft con" legacy in a recent CNN interview, in which she adopts a position to the right of the current president (who is hardly a lefty). Her words
deserve close attention...
Potential Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pointed out her differences with President Barack Obama on Tuesday over his decision not to arm moderate Syrian rebels, as neighboring Iraq struggles to cope with extremist spillover from Syria.
"We pushed very hard. But as I say in my book, I believe that Harry Truman was right, the buck stops with the president," Clinton said in a CNN interview.
The former secretary of state said she, along with the then heads of the Pentagon and CIA tried but failed to persuade Obama to arm the rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but that the White House resisted.
Clinton said it was not clear whether arming moderates in Syria would have prevented the rise of the al Qaeda splinter group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has swept toward Baghdad aiming to build a Muslim caliphate across the Iraqi-Syrian border.
She went on to opine that it was "too soon" to say whether the administration's Syrian policy was a failure.
Too soon? Nah. Here's the report card: Obama did a lot of things wrong, but he got one great big thing right: Instead of bombing Syria, he left the matter up to Congress -- knowing that the war-weary American people would tell Congress to stay out. (I'll say it again: Obama is not a war guy. He's a covert ops guy.)
I take no pleasure in stating that Hillary's claims are absurd and misleading on more than one level.
has been arming the Syrian rebels
. They've been getting tons of aid from the Saudis
, the Turks and other Arab states we consider friendly. As we shall see, our own CIA has shaped and directed this aid program. Some would argue that the CIA has used the Saudis as cut-outs, or at least as a piggy-bank.
(The head of Saudi intelligence once confessed: "We don't do operations. We write checks.")
Rebels have received training from the U.S. in Qatar
In a documentary to be aired Tuesday night, the rebels describe their clandestine journey from the Syrian battlefield to meet with their American handlers in Turkey and then travel on to Qatar, where they say they received training in the use of sophisticated weapons and fighting techniques, including, one rebel said, “how to finish off soldiers still alive after an ambush.”
The interviews are the latest evidence that after more than three years of warfare, the United States has stepped up the provision of lethal aid to the rebels. In recent months, at least five rebel units have posted videos showing their members firing U.S.-made TOW anti-tank missiles at Syrian positions. The weapons are believed to have come from Saudi Arabia, but experts on international arms transfers have told McClatchy that they could not have been given to the rebels without the approval of the Obama administration.
Do you really think that those guys could get hold of TOW missiles without Obama's blessing?
Hillary may now want us to believe that Obama decided "not to arm" the Syrian rebels, but the fact is that the CIA
has been sending covert aid to most extreme Syrian rebels for a long time now -- and yes, they did so at a time when Hillary was still addressed as Madame Secretary.
From the New York Times (March 25, 2013):
With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.
The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.
As it evolved, the airlift correlated with shifts in the war within Syria, as rebels drove Syria’s army from territory by the middle of last year. And even as the Obama administration has publicly refused to give more than “nonlethal” aid to the rebels, the involvement of the C.I.A. in the arms shipments — albeit mostly in a consultative role, American officials say — has shown that the United States is more willing to help its Arab allies support the lethal side of the civil war.
"Early 2012." Note the date. Hillary was still Secretary of State then, so she can't claim that she wasn't privy to this information.
Let's step back and look at the basic lessons we've learned from what we've seen so far -- and keep in mind that all of the above links go to mainstream news sources. Three things are crystal clear:
1. "Friendly" Arab governments were giving massive aid
to the rebels in Syria.
2. The CIA was coordinating this effort. The Agency cannot escape responsibility.
3. A spate of recent stories have revealed that this arms-and-aid went not to any moderate faction but to the most militant of the jihadis, to Nusrah and ISIS. If you want to topple a government, you have to deal with the guys who have some actual muscle
. You need hardcases and sunsabitches.
The Land Destroyer Report
offers an excellent analysis:
Already, in 2007, US officials had divulged plans to destroy Syria by arming sectarian extremists, using Saudi Arabia and other regional actors as proxies to launder US and Israel support through - maintaining a degree of credibility amongst the terrorist receiving the aid, as well as a degree of plausible deniabiliy for Washington and Tel Aviv politically.
This piece goes on to reference Sy Hersh's bombshell 2007 expose "The Redirection."
Hersh proved that Bush instituted a policy of arming Sunni fanatics against the Shi'ite governments of Iran and Syria. Obama, to his discredit, maintained this policy -- which was changed only when the Sunni fanatics decided to concentrate their fire on the one Shi'ite leader whom we did not want to see overturned, Maliki of Iraq.
Quite a few people have argued that whole concept of a "moderate" Syrian opposition to Assad has always been a fiction. Sure, there is an entity called The Free Syrian Army -- but its leaders have considered Nusrah and ISIS to be allied organizations
until just recently. They've also complained that Nusrah was getting the lion's share of the aid.
The Obama administration tellingly refused to label the Nusrah Front a terrorist organization until December of 2012. Hillary Clinton's State Department never considered them terrorists
. That fact may come to haunt her when she runs for president.
As the Land Destroyer Report elegantly puts it:
Clearly, that "sense that other states would arm the rebels anyhow" was gleaned from premeditated conspiracies long-ago hatched between Washington, Tel Aviv, and Riyadh. And as the terrible consequences of this conspiracy come to fruition with tens of thousands dead, the West is eager to disclaim any and all responsibility, hoping sincerely that the public hasn't the collective memory or intelligence to pick up a newspaper from 2007 and read what they had already admitted to planning.
Forgive a final quotation from this important piece, but the following point deserves special attention:
The CIA, Western media, and Western politicians insist that they have taken every precaution to ensure the now admitted torrent of cash and weapons that have been flowing into Syria to compound and perpetuate the bloodbath, did not end up in the hands of terrorists. However, no plausible explanation has been given as to where al-Nusra is getting its cash and weapons from, or how it has managed to eclipse the extensively Western-backed "moderates," to become the premier front in the fight against the Syrian people.
Emphasis added. And I suggest reading those words more than once.
Even if this "moderate" Syrian rebel faction were real, and even if it prevailed against Assad, the fact is that any new government in that country would necessarily empower Sunni extremists -- the people who have eaten hearts and desecrated churches and kidnapped nuns.
Most Americans consider themselves Christians, either nominal or practicing -- so why don't they heed the Christians of Syria? That sizable community of believers has said with one voice that a successful rebellion would surely result in their oppression, perhaps even their extermination. Assad, for all his many faults, has left that community alone.
I'm very disappointed with Hillary. "Disingenuous" is too weak a word to describe this interview.
She would stand a better chance of prevailing in 2016 if she distanced herself from this president by criticizing him from the left
. Even Glenn Beck
is now talking like a peacenik. Peace is popular. Take the hint, Mrs. Clinton.
The neocon giggle-fest continues!
A while back, we heard Tony Blair's take on the current mess in Iraq. Chuckles galore. But if you want a truly painful belly-laugh, check out the latest from that lovable funster Dick Cheney
Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.
He's talking about Obama
, not Dubya. Considering the fact that the Iraq and Afghanistan misadventures cost us trillions -- and considering the fact that the deregulation of Wall Street and the tax cuts for the wealthy cost trillions more
-- Cheney is hardly in a position to utter the word "expense."
Harry Reid's response
was spot on:
"If there's one thing this country does not need, is that we should be taking advice from Dick Cheney on wars," he said. "Being on the wrong side of Dick Cheney is being on the right side of history."
Finally, a Democrat who represents my