Tuesday, April 8, 2014

WSJ: "Kerry, U.S. Military Clash on Approach to Syria's Rebels"

"... Frustrated by the stalemate in Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry has been pushing for the U.S. military to be more aggressive in supporting the country's rebel forces. Opposition has come from the institution that would spearhead any such effort: the Pentagon. Mr. Kerry and United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power have advocated options that range from an American military intervention to weaken the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to using U.S. special operations forces to train and equip a large number of rebel fighters. Such moves would go far beyond the U.S.'s current engagement.In recent White House meetings, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have pushed back against military intervention, said senior officials….Top policy makers say the rift echoes similarly fraught Clinton administration debates over the conflict in Bosnia two decades ago.Then-U.N. ambassador Madeleine Albright summed up her frustration with the Pentagon by asking Gen. Colin Powell, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs: "What's the point of having this superb military that you're always talking about if we can't use it?"...
From Gen. Dempsey's perspective, even a limited military operation could embroil the U.S. in a broader regional conflict than advocates realize, these officials say."If it weren't for the chairman, you would be right back in Iraq or Afghanistan," a senior defense official said.Searching for new options, Mr. Kerry has been huddling with retired generals David Petraeus and Jack Keane, architects of the 2007 troop surge in Iraq. The two generals have told Mr. Kerry they believe a military program to train and equip the Syrian rebels, and limited strikes to weaken Mr. Assad, could be effective, according to U.S. officials.”

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