Pressure is continuing to mount on President Obama to drop his ‘‘regime change’’ hysterics against Bashar Assad and ally with Syria to defeat ISIS, which his Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Gen. Martin Dempsey, and his Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, have both called a strategic threat to the United States and our allies.
One of the most stinging calls for a shift in US policy on Syria came from Glenn Greenwald, writing in the new outlet The Intercept. Greenwald not only reviewed the evolution of Obama Administration policy, from the President’s ‘‘Assad must go’’ rhetoric to his failed effort to win Congressional support for a bombing campaign last year to oust Assad, to the current situation, in which Syria is now a natural ally in the campaign to wipe out ISIS. Greenwald reminded readers that it was the Obama Administration that helped create ISIS by using the Saudis and Qatar to arm them while Samantha Power, John Kerry, and Tony Blair cheered them on.
Now, writes Greenwald, ‘‘It seems pretty clear that US military action in the Middle East is the end in itself,’’ while which side we are on ‘‘is an ancillary consideration.’’ It is also clear that US military action under Obama ‘‘virtually never fulfills the stated goals (nor is it intended to do so) and achieves little other than justifying endless military action for its own sake. How long before we hear the US military action is needed (again) in Libya to restrain the chaos and extremism unleashed by the NATO intervention?’’
Greenwald fails to note the historic reality that ‘‘war for war’s sake’’ is the classic British policy, and that Obama’s wars are still dictated by the Empire. He refers instead to ‘‘Prime Minister David Cameron’s desire to assume the usual subservient British role in support of American wars.’’
Former NATO Commander and Democratic candidate for the presidential nomination Gen. Wesley Clark, while not explicitly calling for US-Syrian cooperation, echoed the proposals put forth by Gen. Martin Dempsey for how to defeat ISIS, in an op-ed he wrote for CNN yesterday.
‘‘The U.S. must build a coordinated regional response — diplomatic, economic and military — with ground troops from our regional allies and friends, and with possible U.S. support with intelligence, logistics and airstrikes. But we cannot fight this war for our Islamic friends in the region.
‘‘Despite its pretensions, ISIS is not yet a state. It was initially a group of fighters funded, armed and assisted by groups or governments opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But its call for a caliphate governed by extremist interpretations of Sharia law precisely echoes Saudi Wahhabi teaching, and is magnetic to disaffected, vulnerable young people…’’
He ended the commentary warning: ‘‘The Mideast is approaching its moment of truth, particularly for Saudi Arabia. Having exported and promoted extremist Sunni religious ideology, Saudi Arabia must face up to the threat posed by its own, even more extremist progeny. It must summon the courage to take a firm stand now, before ISIS becomes even stronger.
‘‘For the U.S. there is nothing to be gained by delay. We must work urgently, behind the scenes, to shape an effective regional response, in coordination with our friends and allies, now.’’
In an interview with CNN on Monday night, Aug. 25, Clark had bluntly stated that ‘‘The Saudis have for years funded extremism. Their money’s all over the region… It [Saudi Arabia] can’t be exporting extremism and at the same time ask the United States to protect it. This ISIS threat is going eventually to be pointed like a dagger right at the heart of the Saudi regime.’’
While the Pentagon is pushing for a quiet coordination with the Syrian Army to defeat ISIS on both sides of the Syria-Iraq border, the British are taking a very different stance, putting the blame on Bashar Assad for the rise of ISIS. British Ambassador to the United Nations Sir Mark Lyall Grant was asked by CNN whether his government favored working with Assad, and he responded: ‘‘No. We have to be very clear about where Bashar al-Assad stands in that, in this problem. The reality is that Assad is very largely the cause of the problem. He is certainly not the solution to the problem. There is a lot of evidence of collusion between ISIS and the Syrian regime. The Syrian regime has been pleased to see ISIS build up its strength in Syria because it has been able to attack mainly the more moderate opposition, the armed moderate opposition. And the reality is that this is a monster that the Frankenstein of Assad has largely created. So he is certainly not the solution to the problem.’’
Of course, beyond the roles of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait and Qatar in fostering ISIS, no one holds a candle to ‘‘Londonistan,’’ where the Al Yamamah slush fund has been financing radical jihadist terrorism since prior to the emergence of Al Qaeda, and where a major recruitment hub for ISIS still exists.