The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, led by Kurdish groups, have entered the town of Manbij after they surrounded ISIS militants there. But at the same time dozens of US State Department officials have urged Barack Obama in a memo to launch air strikes against Bashar al-Assad’s forces, something that would contradict current White House foreign policy.
RT: The memo essentially contradicts Kerry’s earlier attempts to broker peace in Syria. How do you account for this rift at the State Department?
Karen Kwiatkowsky: I think that this administration is running out of time. And it is true that Barack Obama has kind of been a barrier to some of the more aggressive policies that have been emanating from both State Department and the Pentagon. But at the same time, this administration and the life spans of these political appointees, these ambassadors, many of whom signed on to this very aggressive warmongering letter, their life span is limited, they have basically 6 months to go. Very likely they will not retain their appointments in a new administration. Certainly, if Hillary Clinton is elected, I imagine many of these war mongering State Department officials are appointees or friends of Hillary Clinton, people who agree with her approach. So, I do see this as somewhat aimed at engaging politically in the domestic events here in the US. We have an election coming. Clinton is very besieged by many things. But she is the neoconservative candidate. She is the candidate who will make this war, if this war on Assad is to be stepped up. She is the one that will do that and these are her people. And they don’t have a lot of time left.
RT: Do you think that the differences that we’ve seen in the State Department are just there or this is something that is indicative of differences throughout the administration?
KK: This release to the New York Times is a political event. This is aimed at making policy when there is very little time left to make that policy. If you read the letter, it doesn’t offer really any new strategy. And Obama has been accused of having no real strategy. This is not a new strategy; this is not a replacement strategy. This is bomb and ‘show the flag’. And it is being put forth not by the Air Force, not by the Pentagon – who you might presume might know something about fighting. Certainly, we cannot take ground from the air and this is precisely what they are advocating is airstrikes, which have long been proven to be ineffective. That is why I see it as a political thing and not an actual strategy. There is very little strategy there. What they are putting forth won’t work, is known not to work by even the advocates of violence in the Pentagon know that it won’t work. So, it is not a very good solution. Therefore, I have to conclude that it is aimed at politically communicating something. And I find it remarkable and hilarious that this letter was released and put up through the channel for dissent. These 51 warmongering diplomats are dissenters. That is just absolutely spectacular.
RT: Just a few days ago, John Kerry said the US is losing patience with Assad. Does that kind of rhetoric not undermine the peace he’s supposedly trying to broker?
KK: It is typical of John Kerry’s entire approach from the time he has been the Secretary of State. He is trying to walk two different paths and you can’t do that: threatening and negotiating. But the threats are empty. And it is well-known in the region since we have been intervening and interfering and bombing for so long now. The people in the Middle East both are allies and our enemies if you want to consider Assad and Iran as our enemies. All of them know us very well now. They know how we operate; they know to call our bluffs. Our bluffs aren’t bluffs anymore, they are just empty conversation. Kerry hasn’t changed; his policies and approaches have been the same. He is just ineffective. And he is ineffective because our own fundamental policy is not what he says. And it is not what the president says. It is what we actually do. And what we actually do has been reported for years: we topple governments in the Middle East that we don’t like and we encourage movements that will help us in this – regardless of how dangerous or how empty or how incompatible with liberty and our own value system these allies are. And this is why we find ourselves supporting ISIS and fighting with people who are doing terribly destructive things and we can’t say anything bad about them because they are our allies. We’ve got ourselves into this situation; I don’t think it is fair to blame Kerry as an individual. He is representing a system that has no credibility. And certainly you can’t believe a word that is said by an American politician when it comes to what we will and what we won’t do in the Middle East.