Clinton: No Troops Can Be Sent To Syria Without Assad’s Consent

Many people have complained about a new policy of “American Exceptionalism” in our wars and foreign policy. It appears however that we may have to call it a policy of “American Incoherence” after reading the latest remarks of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — policies that are understandable only to our leaders. Clinton (who supported the armed intervention in Libya because of the threat of citizen deaths) has announced that no troops can be sent to Syria without the consent of the regime. I happen to oppose military intervention in Syria, but we continue to convey to the world that the only guiding principle in our foreign policy is opportunism.

In the lawsuit by the members of Congress challenging the Libyan war (where I served as lead counsel), the Administration insisted that it did not need any consent of either Congress or the Libyan government to start bombing military and infrastructure sites.

Of course, these are “peacekeeping forces,” but the contrast to Syria is striking. In the lawsuit, Syria had already killed more civilians than Libya, but the Administration claimed that it had unilateral authority to enter Libya. Clinton insists that she is trying to “convince the Assad regime that they are leading Syria into the outcome that we all deplore. We do not want to see a civil war in Syria.” Presumably that does not include drone attacks where the consent is neither required nor often expected.

In the meantime, Libyan forces are now being accused of many of the same atrocities committed by the prior regime.

What is even more worrisome is the steady number of leaks and comments about an expected war with Iran — a war that we could easily be pulled into with a preemptive strike by Israel. That would move Syria further back in the line for U.S. intervention.

Source: Foreign Policy

63 thoughts on “Clinton: No Troops Can Be Sent To Syria Without Assad’s Consent

  1. It is quite clear, quite coherent: “If sovereign nations want our troops to come into their territory and destroy them along with their infrastructure, they are going to have to ask us first.”

  2. So we’re saying we can’t send troops because that would be a declaration of war, can we send drones? It was argued we weren’t at war in Libya if I remember correctly because of our support function, the lack of a large number of troops on the ground, and the fact that a number of strikes were carried out with drones.

    Now that a drone seems to have been taken in Iran, perhaps they are upgrading their self destruction and signal penetration capabilities? Could our sudden tepidness have to do with a lack of unilateral support this time? The past relationship of Russia and Syria? Or perhaps the difference between Libya and Syria is election year politics.

  3. rafflaw, I don’t think Obama wants the price of gasoline to double to 8 bucks a gallon. That would mean a recession and a sure loss in November.

  4. The banks and the MIC own this nation. They own Hillary and Barack, they own our Congress and our state legislatures, our governors and our diplomats.

    Time to get corporate money out of politics altogether.

  5. nal,

    Syria is strategically located…..In between Asia and the middle east….they have plenty of pipelines….=

  6. Nal,

    Not referring to oil … referring to Washington D C … once a plan is in the pipeline, it flows out the other end. Plans for Iran are in the pipeline … Syria’s just an outside strut to brace the pipeline

  7. Blouise/nal,

    Actually AY raises a salient point about real pipelines as well. Both major gas and oil pipelines do go through Syria.

  8. It has come to the realization of the USA military as politicians
    that the cost as loss of life / removing such dire dictatorships
    as that of SYRIA / is not an invasion but to arm those whom in
    be willing to fight for their freedom / willing to die for freedom..
    that such the tyrant that rules SYRIA as his supporters being
    brought unto justice for decades of injustice having committed.

    For the future of the people of the USA lets hope that BARACK
    has the sense to step down / allow HILLARY or another taking
    the leadership of the democrats / in its next term of govt / that
    their being another term of BARACK as president / is but such
    one writing the longest suicide note. BARACK has the ambition
    he can spin out a yarn / yet lacks the political skill for the office
    of president he has more the makings of a used car salesman.

    There those whom putting forward that a vote against BARACK
    is to vote against black people / that in voting against BARACK
    one is a racist // such of course is utter nonsense // the future
    election has nothing to do with black against white / rather it’s
    whom best in leading the democrats / in another term of office
    the reality with BARACK not being black or white / the reality is
    he is an failing politician / having little political ability in leading
    the nation // its time for an change in the democrat leadership.

  9. Tuesday, Feb 14, 2012

    “U.S. media takes the lead on Iran”

    By Glenn Greenwald

    “When continuously bombarded with authoritative voices uncritically warning them of the Grave Threat posed by the New Hitlers, and with powerful images of menacing missiles and unhinged leaders accompanying those warnings, even rational populations will become sufficiently scared into succumbing to the next act of aggression.”

    “The only thing unusual here is that, with Iran, the American media actually seems out in front of the U.S. Government in the propaganda effort rather than in their normal position of submissively marching behind.”


    “This nicely summarizes the state of American neocon foreign policy discourse at the moment.” -Greenwald, referring to the following video

  10. Now let me get this straight we need to attack Iran because they have a despotic government and might at some point get nuclear arms. However, we don’t need to attack N.Korea even though they have a despotic, unstable government, that has nuclear arms and a delivery system. We removed Libya’s crazy dictator, but we can’t remove Assad without his permission. Despite Syrian pipelines they ain’t got no oil. The common thread, as with Iraq, is we find urgent need to remove despotic dictators as long as oil is involved.

  11. Mike S.,

    I think you could address the inverse of pimping for Obama….. Just as much as Jillster tries to invoke the perils and fears of voting for Obama you got the same here…. hijacking a thread to get the message out…..

  12. No US aggression = Iran has absolutely no reason to hit US or it’s interests

    US (or Israeli) aggression = Iran has every reason to hit US or it’s interests

  13. For those that have not ever utilized the saying “keep your friends close but your enemies closer” this is the prime application…

  14. Swarthmore mom 1, February 14, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    rafflaw, I don’t think Obama wants the price of gasoline to double to 8 bucks a gallon. That would mean a recession and a sure loss in November.

    Gas prices’ earliest-ever rise above $3.50 a bad sign for motorists

    American motorists have seen the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline rise above $3.50 a gallon on just three occasions, but it has never happened this early in the year. Analysts say it’s likely a sign that pain at the pump will rise to some of the highest levels ever seen later this year.,0,2776477.story?track=rss

  15. bdaman, The nyt article that I posted said it would quickly move to $150 with war with Iran which would probably be about 7 bucks for a gallon of gas. I think with speculation it could go much higher.

  16. I think Mike S. addressed it quiet well when he talked about the radical fringes… peace…. hope he will address this…just because some are not in a cookie cutter mold… does not make them bad people….. peace….

  17. Here’s Obama’s foreign policy. Charles Krauthammer said on Obama’s bloated budget bill he offered Congress that gives $800 million to Islamic spring countries.

    “The president knows were heading over a cliff and he just wants to get past election day… For the president to offer this knowing how dire the situation is is truly scandalous.”

    Hey but don’t worry there’s a party at the Whitehouse wit Mick and the boys for black history month.

  18. Bdaman: “Here’s Obama’s foreign policy. Charles Krauthammer said on Obama’s bloated budget bill he offered Congress that gives $800 million to Islamic spring countries.

    “The president knows were heading over a cliff and he just wants to get past election day…”

    Krauthammer, you had to bring him up.

    Krauthammer is slow on the uptake, we’ve been heading over that cliff since March of 2003 and Krauthammer supported that invasion of Iraq (from WiKipedia- easier than digging out his old columns)

    “He supported the Iraq war on the “realist” grounds of the strategic threat the Saddam regime posed to the region as UN sanctions were eroding and of his alleged weapons of mass destruction; and on the “idealist” grounds that a self-sustaining democracy in Iraq would be a first step towards changing the poisonous political culture of tyranny, intolerance and religious fanaticism in the Arab world that had incubated the anti-American extremism from which 9/11 emerged”.

    “In February 2003, Krauthammer cautioned that “it may yet fail. But we cannot afford not to try. There is not a single, remotely plausible, alternative strategy for attacking the monster behind 9/11. It’s not Osama bin Laden; it is the cauldron of political oppression, religious intolerance, and social ruin in the Arab-Islamic world—oppression transmuted and deflected by regimes with no legitimacy into virulent, murderous anti-Americanism.”[21] Krauthammer in 2003 noted that the reconstruction of Iraq would provide many benefits for the Iraqi people, once the political and economic infrastructure destroyed by Saddam was restored: “With its oil, its urbanized middle class, its educated population, its essential modernity, Iraq has a future. In two decades Saddam Hussein reduced its GDP by 75 percent. Once its political and industrial infrastructures are reestablished, Iraq’s potential for rebound, indeed for explosive growth, is unlimited.” ”

    As a learned, journalistic source for reasoned commentary on foreign affairs he leaves a lot to be desired.


    Also a few other bits from the new budget:

    “The proposed budget also contains requests of $3.1 billion in military assistance for Israel” (What? Are there two Palestinian homes left standing in the West Bank that require the security forces to evict the tenants for a new settlement? Is it for a coming war with Iran?)

    “A further $8.2 billion is requested to support “the extraordinary and temporary costs of civilian-led programs and missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.” (Merc’s, baksheesh, ‘other’ contractors, who knows?)

    Don’t worry, our imperialist friends and the hired thugs and corrupt partners in the area are going to make out pretty well in 2012, just as they have for the last 8 years- what’s Krauthammer bitchin’ about?

    Brietbart is on The Young Turks, gotta’ watch it……

  19. lottakatz:

    I’ve heard Krauthammer enough to be convinced that he would favor occupying the entire Middle East were it possible.

  20. Nal 1, February 14, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Syria ain’t got no oil.
    Then one wonders how Syria has been exporting oil for decades now, mostly to Europe.

    It has natural gas too.

    It also has ports on the Mediterranean, a way around the Straits of Hormuz in a pinch.

    A nice way for Iraq (which borders Syria) to get BP’s oil out of Iraq without worrying about Hormuz.

    Besides, Syria already has millions of Iraqi’s who fled Sadaam Bush II after Paul Bremer (who now does water color paintings in the N.E.) did the Governor of Iraq thingy.

  21. Commoner,
    Check your Wiki reference again. Syria will run out of its meagerly oil supplies by the end of the decade. Their supply compared to Iraq and Iran are negligible. No one covets Syria’s oil, like they covet Iran’s.

  22. LottaKatz,

    Thanks for the Wiki-refs. In Robert Baer’s book, “See No Evil”, he, a former CIA field agent; and sole reponsible for a team in Kurd/Iraq, tried to get Washington’s backing on a Iraqi insurrection initiative lead by a former Saddam General, and other power figures in Kurdistan with own armies. Timing was of the essence, but then read the book for the details……

    The responsible NSA in Washington the NSA man washed his hands giving over full responsiblity to the Kurds……”at your decision”. They did, but were not fully committed and lost.

    So there were earlier alternatives to 2003, in spite of what is said.

    If you’d like to see what we did to Iraq education wise, see:

    Wasn’t there an earlier blog here entitlled “the best education system in the ME”? Whatever the case, read this Iraqi professor’s paper presented at an international conference in Ghent, Belgium.
    From illiteracy 98% to 3% and back to 94%——from secular Iraqi dictatorship to US led nation destruction 2003–2011. Facts are facts.
    Note especially rise in women’s education, women’s professional employment, etc under Saddam and its fall under 2003-2011.

    Saddam, no! But there were other ways to do it without destroying the nation. As shown in Robert Baer’s book.

  23. Harold Koh laid out the underlying doctrine of US imperialism. He said Obama can kill anyone, anywhere, anytime on his own say so but that certain places in the world might not tolerate that, so he wouldn’t do it there. As an example, he said Obama wouldn’t send a drone to kill someone in Germany because Germany would raise questions about what had happened.

    So lessons to learn. 1. Assad has been a friend to the US govt. He knows where many of the bodies of the people we had rendered there for torture and murder are. Until this evidence is locked down, Assad, like Gaddafi before him, will be O.K. Once the evidence is locked down Assad will be taken down by the US govt., just like Gaddafi. This is exactly how totalitarian systems work. You are in the “in group” until you no longer serve your purpose. Then you are expendable. That is what the lack of rule of law looks like in foreign policy. At home it looks like the newly announced “mortgage settlement” where the people again will bail out the bankers and get really screwed over. (Please see nakedcapitalism for that info.)

    2. Why not make the US intolerant of murder, torture, regime change, civilian killing drone use? Why are so many good Democrats giving their blessing to such horrific acts when done by Obama? (See the poll at Glenn Greenwald for that information.) Will there ever be a time when good people stand up with other people and say, this is wrong, you may not pursue these horrors in my name? Until agreeing Democrats and Republicans reject these actions, they are greenlighting them. Tyranny and cruelty don’t have self-braking attached. They must be stopped by peaceful soul force and we the people need to pull together on this, right now.

  24. One of the things I’ve done to hopefully reinforce my credibility here is to admit when I’ve been wrong. When I stated:

    “We removed Libya’s crazy dictator, but we can’t remove Assad without his permission. Despite Syrian pipelines they ain’t got no oil. The common thread, as with Iraq, is we find urgent need to remove despotic dictators as long as oil is involved.”

    I think I was wrong in stating the Syrian issue is they have no oil, so we’re unwilling to topple the regime. This is a link below to an article that gives lie to my statement and causes me to extend apologies to Commoner:

  25. well Michael you are accurate in saying that the wiki article does say that Syria
    is having oil troubles…my point was that they do have some oil and there is a strong chance that new wells could be found with the right technology…saying they have no oil is erroneous.


    “Israeli Strike On Iran ‘Not Prudent,’ Gen. Martin Dempsey Says”

    by Joshua Hersh

    Posted: 2/18/12 | Updated: 2/19/12


    Dempsey also threw cold water on some of the more aggressive plans to intervene militarily in the crisis in Syria, where opposition forces have been carrying out an increasingly bloody revolt against the regime of President Bashar Assad.

    “Syria is a very different challenge” from Libya, where American-led NATO forces recently helped end the reign of dictator Muammar Gadhafi, Dempsey added. “It’s a different challenge, as you described it, geographically. It’s a different challenge in terms of the capability the Syrian military. They are very capable.”

    Dempsey also called plans to simply arm the opposition “premature.”

    “I would challenge anyone to clearly identify for me the opposition movement in Syria at this point,” Dempsey said, adding that the crisis had grown increasingly complicated over the months. (end of excerpt)


    “Israel’s ex-spy chief sees opportunity in Syria crisis”

    “Israel’s Efraim Halevy believes a collapse of the Assad regime in Syria could deal a blow to ally Iran’s regional ambitions and nuclear program.”

    By Edmund Sanders

    February 18, 2012, 5:42 p.m.

    “Efraim Halevy, a former national security advisor and former head of Israeli spy agency Mossad, said Israel should start to look at Iran and Syria as two sides of the same problem.” … and the article continues

  28. Syria Hit List Targets Thousands

    EXCLUSIVE: A detailed document obtained by Mother Jones appears to identify a vast group of Syrian dissidents targeted by Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

    —By Hamed Aleaziz
    Mon Feb. 27, 2012


    A 718-page digital document obtained by Mother Jones contains names, phone numbers, neighborhoods, and alleged activities of thousands of dissidents apparently targeted by the Syrian government. Three experts asked separately by Mother Jones to examine the document—essentially a massive spreadsheet, whose contents are in Arabic—say they believe that it is authentic. As Bashar al-Assad’s military continues a deadly crackdown on dissent inside the country, the list appears to confirm in explicit detail the scale of the regime’s domestic surveillance and its methodical efforts to destroy widespread opposition.

    The document does not contain any identifying government markings. But the experts consulted agree that its organization and content—which they say is striking in scope—are characteristic of lists used by intelligence services in the Middle East. A link to the document, which surfaced in mid-January in discussions about Syria on Twitter, was provided to Mother Jones by a self-described hactivist who tweets frequently in Arabic and English and whose identity is unclear. A redacted sample of the document is below; Mother Jones is not publishing the full document or revealing the names of individuals in it because we cannot definitively confirm its authenticity nor predict how the document might be used if more widely disseminated.

    But the experts who examined the document say it shows what many observers have strongly suspected: In addition to relentless bombing of cities such as Homs and Hama, the Assad regime is tracking down thousands of its own people for interrogation, coercion, or far worse. Joshua Landis, a scholar on Syria who has consulted for the State Department and other US government agencies, said he thinks the document merges the records of several Syrian intelligence agencies in order to better coordinate the crackdown. “This is what a secret service does,” he said. Actions allegedly taken by individuals in the document—such as setting up a roadblock near Homs or issuing instructions about how to attack a Syrian military outpost—are “the kind of thing that people get whacked for all the time, or at least tortured for.”
    “They put me face down on the floor, and started beating me with a cable on the soles of my feet, my legs and back. They were asking, ‘Why did you go to the demonstration?'”

    According to Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syria expert and fellow at the conservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the document contains the names of people wanted by the government’s military and security services. It lists many of them with specific information—the year of their birth, names of their relatives, and descriptions such as, “he leads rallies in the Sakhaneh neighborhood.” The list also includes military defectors and their units and ranks, Abdulhamid said. “This kind of info on this scale cannot be available to the general public, or faked.”

    The hactivist who alerted Mother Jones to the online document said that it was posted by members of an activist organizing committee inside Syria, but declined to provide any details confirming that, citing security concerns. It’s conceivable that the document involves deception by the Syrian regime or counterintelligence operations by its adversaries; the United States, Israel, and other Western powers are known to have run sophisticated covert operations against Syria and Iran for many years.

    Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert and fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, agrees that the list appears to be authentic, despite that there is no way to know for sure. “The way it’s organized looks similar to other documents I’ve seen,” he said, citing a hit list he saw when he was in Syria in 2006. (That list, he said, also did not contain identifying government markings.) “It organizes people in such a way that it would allow the security services to be able to track them down.” Tabler also said the document is longer than any he’s previously seen; it allows the Syrian government to “more effectively round up these folks and choke them off as part of the crackdown.”

    Here is a sample from the top of page 1 of the document, which was translated from the Arabic by Abdulhamid.

    (The English above corresponds to the headers and content of line 1 below; the columns are flipped, as Arabic is read from right to left.)

    A Syrian student living in Europe who actively supports the opposition movement also examined the document and said that it is “very encompassing” and includes details on “activists who make things happen on the field and military defectors.” A note above a section near the end of the document, he said, suggests that the names of the people it contains were extracted through confessions.

    The infamy of Syria’s Mukhabarat intelligence service is well known. For the past year, reports of it rounding up and torturing Syrian activists have steadily trickled out of the country. “When they took me in, they put me face down on the floor, and started beating me with a cable on the soles of my feet, my legs and back,” a Syrian protester told Human Rights Watch last year. “They were asking, ‘Why did you go to the demonstration? Who paid you to go? Who made you go?’ They just wanted me to confess to something, did not matter what.”

    “I have seen lists that had hundreds of names listed in the same manner,” Abdulhamid said. “Some were published on the web by activists to warn people. Others included names of people who were later arrested or killed. Activists have reported since the early days of the revolution that when loyalist security forces came to their neighborhoods, they indeed carried a list of names in their hands and were looking for specific people, in addition to making random arrests or arresting relatives of the people whose names they had.”
    “It’s way out of control. All of a sudden these large networks of people who were connected through this new technology, it overwhelmed the regime.”

    He added: “It is possible that some of these lists have been leaked intentionally and that they contain names of pro-Assad elements to be used as bait for catching activists. The dynamics of the revolution have become very complex—there is active cyberwar going on, intelligence and counterintelligence, propaganda and counterpropaganda, and the regime tends to have the upper hand in these fields.”

    Landis, who also runs the influential blog Syria Comment, says he thinks the scale of the document highlights “how overwhelmed the security forces clearly are with this uprising. They’re trying to keep track of leadership and who’s in the opposition, and it’s reaching into the thousands upon thousands.” Even for a regime as systematically brutal as Assad’s, it’s an immense undertaking. “They have to go out and find these people’s homes and interrogate their families, and then try to track these people down.”

    Landis believes that the Arab Spring and the rise of social networks have weakened the iron grip that the regime has had on the country for more than four decades. “It’s way out of control…it’s on Facebook, it’s using all these technologies they don’t understand and were not up to speed on,” he said. “All of a sudden these large networks of people who were connected through this new technology, it overwhelmed them. It wasn’t people just making phone calls on the old hard lines the government had completely wired.”

    Still, ever since the uprising began last March, the regime has shown that it will go to extreme lengths to crush the opposition. The situation turned particularly grim this month: There have been reports of hundreds massacred, including women and children, the US shut down its embassy in Damascus, and Western journalists have been killed. (For more details and essential background, read our updated Syria explainer.)

    Western countries, in cooperation with several Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and Morocco, pursued a UN resolution calling for an end to Assad’s rule. It failed in early February, with Russia and China vetoing. On Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other international leaders gathered in Tunis, calling for humanitarian aid and a UN peacekeeping force to be allowed into Syria. President Obama also weighed in, saying, “We are going to continue to keep the pressure up and look for every tool available to prevent the slaughter of innocents in Syria.” But as the violence goes on, options for a coalition of outside governments to intervene appear to remain limited.

Comments are closed.