Hillary’s Likely Sec Def Says She Did Not Advocate Pindosi Ground Troops in Syria
Travis Mannon, Intercept, Jun 24 2016
Former Under-Sec Def for Policy Michèle Flournoy said Wednesday that she does not advocate sending Pindosi ground troops to Syria to fight Assad. On Monday, Defense One (Atlantic Media) reported that Flournoy had “called for ‘limited military coercion’ to help remove Assad from power in Syria, including a ‘no bombing’ zone over parts of Syria held by Pindosi-backed rebels.” Reporter Patrick Tucker interpreted those comments, which Flournoy made at CNAS, to mean that she “said she would direct Pindosi troops to push Assad’s forces out of southern Syria and would send more Pindo boots to fight Daesh.” That report was widely cited elsewhere, including by Glenn Greenwald. Flournoy wrote a letter to the editor denying that she advocates “putting Pindosi combat troops on the ground to take territory from Assad’s forces or remove Assad from power.” Tucker told the Intercept that Defense One did not issue a correction because they felt they accurately reported Flournoy’s policy position. He said:
Strike weapons at standoff distance is troops. Those are military personnel. That is Pindosi military power at war with the Assad regime. There is just no way around it. We took a very inclusive use of the word ‘troops,’ one that matched the literal definition of ‘troops,’ but nowhere do we ever suggest or say ‘ground troops.’
Flournoy did not deny the entire report that she favours increased Pindosi intervention. For instance, she acknowledged her support for Pindosi “strikes using standoff weapons, to retaliate against Syrian military targets” to enforce the no-bomb zone. She wrote that she believes this would create “more favourable conditions on the ground for a negotiated political settlement” and that she wants to increase “Pindosi military support to moderate Syrian opposition groups fighting ISIS and the Assad regime.” In the comments that Defense One initially quoted, Flournoy distinguished her proposed policy from a no-fly zone, which Clinton endorsed in December, explaining:
You’re not having aircraft drill holes in the sky. You’re not having to take out the entire civilian air defense system.
In 2015, Flournoy called the military dimensions of Obama’s strategy in Syria “under-resourced, while many of the non-military lines of operation remain underdeveloped.” Flournoy’s stated foreign policy position would still increase Pindosi involvement in the Syrian civil war beyond what Obama has been willing to commit. When asked in Oct 2015 if Pindostan was going to allow Russian forces to continue to bomb Pindosi-supported ‘moderate’ (my sneer quyotes – RB) opposition forces, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest responded:
The president has made quite clear that Syria is not going to turn into a proxy war between Russia and the United States. That certainly would not be consistent with our interests.
Flournoy’s reiterated willingness to engage directly with Syrian and proxy forces, coupled with Trump’s commitment to send Pindosi ground troops to fight ISIS, signals almost inevitable military escalation in the Syrian conflict once Obama leaves office.