Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Defense Department vs. Barack Obama

I'm still kind of reeling from Seymour Hersh's latest, which is discussed in this Amy Goodman interview. In short and in sum: Hersh reveals -- and yes, he names several of his sources -- that certain parties within the Defense Department understand that the Obama administration's goal of regime change in Syria cannot be squared with any realistic plan to defeat ISIS.

Not only that. These key DOD figures were so concerned about keeping Assad in power that they relayed intelligence to him.

They did not do so directly. Instead, they used a circuitous route -- slipping the intel to certain figures in foreign countries with whom our Defense Department maintains a "military to military" relationship. One such country, believe it or not, is Russia. It was then up to the Russians to pass the data along to Assad -- which, of course, they did.

No matter how Hersh (and his sources) care to phrase the matter, this DOD intelligence leak comes extremely close to insubordination. But the leak was designed to defeat ISIS, a fact which places Obama in a very difficult position. The President cannot admit in public that ISIS has really functioned as our proxy army against Assad, despite all of the anti-ISIS rhetoric that we have heard.

What to make of all this?

In one sense, Hersh's report is rather comforting. Early on, I cracked: "Maybe the Joint Chiefs of Staff are reading Cannonfire."

While that scenario is highly unlikely, it does appear that the Defense Department includes people who do not toe the neocon line. These people understand the situation much as you and I do: Assad may not be an ideal leader, but if he goes down, ISIS and Al Qaeda take his place.

So here we are: Most Democrats are neocon hawks on Syria, as are most Republicans. Look right, look left: All hawks. The only non-hawks are in the freakin' Defense Intelligence Agency!

Let's put this in context. In the run-up to the Iraq war, the CIA was very reluctant to join with Bush and Cheney's program of creating false evidence against Saddam Hussein. To get that job done, the neocons created brand new "intelligence" shops within the Defense Intelligence Agency. Now the situation has reversed itself: The CIA is on board with the "get Assad" project, while the Defense Department has covertly helped Assad (albeit in such a way as to grant itself plausible deniability).

Things sure have changed...!

Although I am gratified to learn that there were people in the DOD undermining Obama's sick goal of regime change in Syria, I'm also worried. Ten, twenty years from now, we will all be living in a very different world. What if the DOD decides to undermine an administration policy that I like?

Nota bene: There have been strenuous efforts to denounce Hersh as -- you guessed it -- a conspiracy theorist. That reaction confirms that Hersh has this one right.

Some of the Sy-slamming has been hilariously unpersuasive.
I'm actually surprised you haven't joined the "conspiracy chorus" on this one, Joseph, since Hersh very pointedly names your favorite bĂȘte noire as one of the three nations helping Assad target the jihadis:

Once the flow of US intelligence began, Germany, Israel and Russia started passing on information about the whereabouts and intent of radical jihadist groups to the Syrian army; in return, Syria provided information about its own capabilities and intentions.
I've been trying to noodle through this report also.
A couple of posts back you commented that Obama plays neo-con right up to the last minute and switches policy to resolution instead of war.
So what if he tacitly allowed the leaking of info to remedy the Syria crisis?
It's the only thing that makes sense. That way the Democrats still appear bellicose enough to satisfy the drive to war yet negotiations prevail...
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