aside The Americans Are The Adults, Part XIV (Hillary Clinton and Foreign Affairs)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad October 20, 2015. REUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad October 20, 2015. REUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

For review, the American taxpayers are incensed with being burdened with the bill of 1.7 trillion plus dollars for U.S. middle east meddling in the affairs of Iraq, Libya and Syria when the U.S. national security interests were not at risk. All three cases involved assisting rebels on the ground in toppling the dictators of their countries, Saddam Hussein of Iraq in 2003; Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi of Libya in 2011; and the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who is still in power. For all of the U.S. efforts, all three countries are failed states; with the conditions for those living in these countries having been made worse. Then there are the resulting multitude of those with life altering injuries along with the loss of lives of our U.S. Soldiers, their partners and the local civilians. Let’s not forget the millions of those displaced locals having to seek safety as refugees in neighboring and western countries. And in addition, there are the large segments of these countries’ territories having been overtaken by virulent, Islamic terrorist extremist groups like ISIS. Finally, it can be reasonably argued that the U.S. peoples are less safe today than before 9/11/2001.

With the above history, one would think that the former U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton who is hoping to become the next U.S. president, would be sounding less hawkish about future U.S. activities in these middle east regions, especially after she has demonstrated her lack of sound judgment in voting for the U.S. war with Iraq in 2003, and in her pushing for U.S. intervention in Libya in 2011.

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During a recent debate in December 2015, Hillary Clinton’s rhetoric around declaring a “no fly zone” in Syria is implausible for various reasons, as explained in a 12/29/15 Al Jazeera article by Adam Johnson, “Hillary Clinton’s insane plan for a no-fly zone.” The following are some excerpts:

“During the Dec. 19 Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire, moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News generally steered the candidates toward hawkish positions on foreign policy. She appeared to accept the premise that the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also called ISIS) is both necessary and urgent. But one position advanced by former Secretary of State and current front-runner Hillary Clinton was so hawkish, so cavalier, that even Raddatz felt compelled to push back. After Clinton said she supported a no-fly zone in Syria in the context of fighting ISIL, Raddatz skeptically followed up:”

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RADDATZ: “Secretary Clinton, I’d like to go back to that if I could. ISIS doesn’t have aircraft, Al Qaida doesn’t have aircraft. So would you shoot down a Syrian military aircraft or a Russian airplane?”

CLINTON: “I do not think it would come to that. We are already de-conflicting airspace. […] I am advocating the no-fly zone both because I think it would help us on the ground to protect Syrians; I’m also advocating it because I think it gives us some leverage in our conversations with Russia […] The no-fly zone, I would hope, would be also shared by Russia. If they will begin to turn their military attention away from going after the adversaries of Assad toward ISIS and put the Assad future on the political and diplomatic track, where it belongs.’

Hillary Clinton

“Raddatz moved on, but this exchange illustrates the absurdity of Clinton’s support for a “no-fly zone.” A no-fly zone over Syria, as all parties understand, is a tacit declaration of war not only against Syria, but also against their longtime ally Russia, whose air force is currently flying over Syria to defend the government of Bashar al-Assad against both ISIL and various rebel groups, some overtly or covertly backed by the United States.”

“But most Americans don’t know what a no-fly zone is, because the media almost never explains what it would entail. Indeed, one has to look to paragraph 19 of an article in The New York Times from 2013 to get some specifics:”

“Imposing a no-fly zone, (Gen. Martin E. Dempsey) said, would require as many as 70,000 American servicemen to dismantle Syria’s sophisticated antiaircraft system and then impose a 24-hour watch over the country.”

President Bashar al-Assad
President Bashar al-Assad

“That was written before Russia entered the war in September 2015. The total number of U.S. servicemen needed to enforce a no-fly zone is likely now much higher, and the stakes for shooting down a Russian jet, intentionally or not, are much greater than for a Syrian one. Yet none of these inconvenient details are brought up in presidential debates.”

“That’s why Raddatz was so confused by the idea that Russia would “share” a no-fly zone. There’s little reason to believe Russia would sell out their only ally in the Middle East, and they’re certainly not going to assist the U.S. in bombing this ally’s air defense and warplanes. The reason Clinton described a fantasy no-fly zone where Russia joins the U.S. is because a real one could potentially require the U.S. to shoot down Russian jets, and starting World War III doesn’t square with the wishes of most Democrats, let alone most Americans. Even voters who don’t follow foreign policy debates closely can see that it’s not the Syrian Army shooting up cafes and concert calls in Paris; it’s their sworn enemy, ISIL.”

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“Clinton’s grandstanding may focus-group well and make her look ‘tough,’ but it can only undermine efforts to bring Syria’s devastating civil war to an end.”

“Even The Atlantic’s typically hawkish Jeffrey Goldberg was confused, tweeting, “Still trying to understand Hillary’s point re: no-fly zone shared with Russia, which supports Assad’s air force. Not getting it.” It’s understandable why he doesn’t get it: Either Clinton is calling for an actual no-fly zone that would involve de facto war against Russia and Syria, or she’s calling for a fantasy one where Russia reverses its entire foreign policy and becomes a client state of the U.S. She’s either being wildly reckless or willfully obtuse.”

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad i (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan)
President Bashar al-Assad i (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan)

“No other major Democrat supports Clinton’s tortured position. President Barack Obama himself has dismissed the idea, including when Clinton pushed for it while serving in his administration. But Clinton isn’t alone. She has lots of company on the other side of aisle, including from GOP establishment favorite Sen. Marco Rubio (with whom she shares a foreign policy consultant, Beacon Global Strategies), who has repeatedly called for a no-fly zone in similarly vague terms. In the Republican debates, the moderators haven’t even gone as far as Raddatz tried to in clarifying what this means.”

“Right now all we have is tough-on-Assad bromides and virtually no realistic assessment of how such a plan would be carried out.”

Syrian President Assad and President Putin of Russia
Syrian President Assad and President Putin of Russia

“This type of bellicose language form Clinton wouldn’t be so troubling if she wasn’t both Obama’s former secretary of state and his likeliest successor. As Secretary of State John Kerry and Obama attempt to negotiate an end to the Syrian conflict, having just adopted a very tenuous framework at the U.N. Security Council, the specter of a de facto declaration of war against Russia in January 2017 is hardly helpful. Perhaps the Russians assume it’s just election-year bluster, but perhaps they don’t. Or perhaps the Iranians don’t. Or perhaps, above all, Assad does not.”

Hillary Clinton’s supposed plans to impose a no-fly-zone in Syria is so not feasible and reckless, to where her thinking along these lines needs to delved into, in future debates and media interviews.

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