Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Chuck Hagel walks down the steps of the Pentagon. (AFP/Getty Images/Mark Wilson)

Hagel-ian dialectic

"If there is no alternative to ISIS’ fighters, they will continue to be able to command unwarranted and unearned support from angry and desperate Sunni communities that have faced a regime that has had no compunction in using all forms of conventional firepower, as well as chemical weapons, to dispense with at least 200,000 of its own citizens in the past three years.
And if those same communities conclude that the anti-ISIS coalition effort either wittingly or unwittingly benefits that regime, rather than stands as a new challenge against it, there is no way for them to embrace the effort. To the contrary, as Obama himself recently noted, such an impression would serve to drive Sunni Arabs in Syria toward ISIS, however reluctantly, and away from any support for the coalition's efforts.
...the fundamental contradiction that Hagel has identified — that the battle against ISIS cannot be won as long as US policy towards Assad remains ambiguous and ambivalent — remains unavoidable.
As I've written many times in the past, the inescapable bottom line is that the administration will ultimately have to choose between presiding over a campaign against ISIS that achieves much less than the stated "degrade and ultimately destroy" goal, or finally biting the bullet and making regime change in Syria an inextricable part of the American project. Getting rid of people who irksomely point this out isn't going to alter an equation, like this one, that is hardwired into the reality of the problem."

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