Hillary Clinton’s Half-Baked Foreign Policy: Syria Edition

Anyone who pays attention to current affairs has heard of ISIS (aka the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria). The terrorist organization that wants to install a caliphate stretching over the Sunni areas of Iraq and Syria. ISIS has become such a perceived threat that President Obama contradicted himself (again) by authorizing air strikes in Iraq.

Iraq: You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

— Joe Remi (@JosephRemiB) August 8, 2014

ISIS disrupts the geopolitical landscape significantly. They’re a big problem in Iraq and in Syria too. They’ve forced themselves into the rebellion against Assad, taking the number one spot for the most popular opposition group. ISIS is already one step closer to its goal of controlling the region and this isn’t breaking news. They have “eaten away at [the] rebellion from within … the very group the US is now bombing in Iraq.” The connection between the Syrian civil war and Iraq is strong:

… Even without committing ground troops, U.S. airstrikes would have meant taking on a Syrian military with formidable air defense capabilities. The effort also could have helped anti-Assad groups with questionable motives, including the Sunni militants who’ve since named themselves the Islamic State and invaded Iraq, prompting that country’s civil war (emphasis added).

So it seems the US made the right move when Congress voted down authorizing troops into Syria. We would have likely been aiding the very people who had their sights set on something much larger than Assad. Given these recent developments, why would those like Hillary Clinton still look back and say “man, we really should have gotten involved in Syria’s personal problems?” After all, that’s exactly what she said in her Weekly Standard editorial on August 12th:

I did believe … that if we were to carefully vet, train, and equip early on a core group of the developing Free Syrian Army[.] … [W]e needed to figure out how we could support them on the ground, better equip them. … I know that the failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.

Even now the former Secretary of State thinks it would have been a good idea to “equip” – and “train” — the very groups that came over and tore up Iraq? Bad enough they’re already armed with US-supplied weapons taken off Iraqi forces. Clearly, even with hindsight on our side, it would have been wise to give ISIS and groups like them more weapons to turn around and use against us. That does tend to be the natural consequence of giving out our military weapons like free candy to sketchy actors. If we want to keep our defenses strong, shouldn’t we be keeping our arsenal here? I don’t want my taxpayer dollars going towards people shooting each other over stuff that doesn’t lead to any advantageous results for anyone.

Really, would throwing more guns at the problem have solved the violence that’d been going on in Syria for three years already? At heart Clinton’s stance is the familiar liberal solution of throwing money at something rather than fixing the underlying issue. Except that in this case the underlying issue — the spat going on between Assad and his citizenry — isn’t any of our business to begin with. Back when talk of intervening in Syria was a thing, it was already acknowledged that extremist factions had taken over the government opposition. It was kind of like Alien vs. Predator, which this author may or may not have said in a public forum.

It seems that Clinton has found herself as odds with the electorate at large too. Clinton’s position diametrically opposes the sentiments of the American people. 60% of registered voters oppose Syrian intervention – including 55% of Republicans and 66% of independents. It’s safe to say that she’s distancing herself from the President. The Weekly Standard piece is titled “Obama’s Foreign Policy Failures” after all. But while making that space shows she’s vying for the seat in 2016, she has to look at the actual situation in front of her too.

And just for irony’s sake, it worth noting that Clinton aligns pretty closely with none other than Senator Lindsey Graham when it comes to Syria. Senator Graham said the following at a campaign stop for his Senate race (circa September 2013):

If the United States doesn’t deal with Syria, Graham promised Iran would acquire a nuclear weapon by 2014, the King of Jordan would be deposed and Israel would start preparing to protect itself.

“I believe that if we get Syria wrong, within six months — and you can quote me on this,” Graham said, pausing for dramatic effect. “There will be a war between Iran and Israel over their nuclear program.”

Welp, check your watch Senator Graham. We didn’t deal with Syria and Israel isn’t at war with Iran. Instead Israel is at war with Hamas and Iran is fighting ISIS as well. They don’t want to see these guys attain widespread power either because it undermines their interests in the region too. At least for now, given the authorized airstrikes, the US and Iran may both need to bite their bottom lips and look at the floor while they concurrently battle ISIS in Iraq. None of the prophesied doom & gloom came to be (in fairness, Graham did give himself a pretty tight six month deadline).

Right now Clinton is in an alternate universe, maybe the same one Graham was inhabiting back then. Congress didn’t authorize any action and that ended up being a good thing. No, it’s not a good thing that people are dying and that ISIS is storming through Iraq. It’s a good thing that we didn’t arm and train the Syrian rebels back then because those very same Syrian rebels became ISIS. Whatever else you may think of what Clinton said to the Weekly Standard about other conflicts, apparently she still thinks it would have been a good idea to aid America’s enemies.

And whatever one’s opinion is of involvement overseas (the gist of my leanings can be seen here and in the video below), we should all be pretty glad when we have the gift of hindsight.