Crocker tells CFR that US policy in Syria is a mistake

"“We would be making a grave mistake if our policy were aimed at flipping the tables and bringing a Sunni ascendancy in Damascus,” said Crocker, who experienced the pitfalls of US military involvement in Lebanon in the 1980s and in Iraq in the past decade. The United States would have no assurance, he said, that a Sunni government would be an improvement on that of Bashar al-Assad and the probability would be that such a government would be “dominated by the worst of the worst” religious extremists."  Al-Monitor


Ryan Crocker says that present US policy in regard to Syria is a mistake.

The SAG has negotiated a deal for rebel withdrawal from Homs.

A zoo inventory of rebel groups is attached below.

What the hell do the Washnigton/New York crowd think they are accomplishing in Syria?  pl[English]&utm_campaign=0813e812a6-January_9_20141_8_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-0813e812a6-93066749

This entry was posted in Syria. Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Crocker tells CFR that US policy in Syria is a mistake

  1. Madhu says:

    They still think they can dictate outcomes and engineer societies. Why, I don’t know, but they seem to think they can engineer their own perfect outcome. How to break that delusion I just don’t know.
    None of this makes any sense to me. It all seems insane.

  2. oofda says:

    Your last question is what many of us have been asking. What do these people think they are doing?

  3. Eliot says:

    I met Crocker once, and briefly at that, but I left feeling impressed. He has a very practical mind and he has a historians understanding of the region. Since his retirement he’s spoken out repeatedly against our policy in Syria.
    He also has a low opinion of political science.

  4. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    You asked: “What the hell do the Washnigton/New York crowd think they are accomplishing in Syria?”
    They are wounding Iran, helping Anne Franck etc.

  5. kao_hsien_chih says:

    No doubt helping Hans Frank, thinking he is related to Anne.

  6. shanks says:

    One strategic idea that I’ve been formulating in my rabid feverish mind, is that these states need to be in internal conflict so as to not antagonise or even be a modicum of hassle to Israel.
    R2P, democracy aside, as long as Assad is preoccupied in dealing with internal strife, he’s not going to have long term plans for Golan or mischief with Israel, is he?

  7. FB Ali says:

    It seems Mr Crocker has learned something after reflecting on the outcome of his efforts in Iraq presiding over the installation of the Maliki Shia government and the betrayal of the Sunnis who helped the US to extricate itself from Iraq.
    However, the wisdom he now expresses is not very relevant. The US is not helping instal just Sunnis in Syria, but the same type of Sunnis who attacked the US and fought it to a draw in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    The incomprehensibility of this policy makes one wonder about the people who make it. Either they belong to the category of persons who have great difficulty walking and chewing gum at the same time. Or (more likely) they find it advantageous to have this threat remain alive. Certainly not to the benefit of the USA and its people but to themselves and the interests they represent.

  8. Will says:

    what are they trying to accomplish?
    kill a secular state with a credible armed forces. In its place so chaos, so there will be nobody to make peace with and give back the annexed Golan heights. (Annexation is bad in Crimea but wunderbar on the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem ?)
    Is there any difference in these people’s minds such as Nuland, Feith, et al between the interests of a right wing settler Israel, and the interests of these United States?
    So disappointed in Rand Paul lately. the defense of Israel act? ” ya gotta be kidding.

  9. walrus says:

    @ Oofda
    What do they think they are doing? Why following the philosphy of Leo Strauss of course!
    They believe that they can create their own new reality and if they have to lie, murder and create misery to do it that is acceptable because the ends justify the means!

  10. Fred says:

    “… to the benefit of …. themselves and the interests they represent.”
    That sums it up nicely.

  11. Imagine says:

    One coherent explanation:
    “‘Greater Israel’: The Zionist Plan for the Middle East: The Infamous ‘Oded Yinon Plan’.”
    …can’t vouch for veracity but it hangs together.
    I’m vaguely remembering a neocon consultant providing a similar blueprint document for Israel around 1996, something similar to PNAC?–saying the best way for Israel to move forward is to “balkanize” its opposition, tearing them apart into powerless, constantly warring smithereens.

  12. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Will wrote: ‘So disappointed in Rand Paul lately. the defense of Israel act? ” ya gotta be kidding.’
    Tried to tell you folks he was a fraud.

  13. steve says:

    Several years prior to the current war, Syria had sought to peacefully normalize relations with both Israel and the US.
    Rebuffed of course.

  14. ToivoS says:

    It is not just a Zionist plan, it was a plan first put into effect by the British when they controlled the Saudi peninsula. Have you ever wondered how the peninsula was divided into, what is it, ten different states. At the time, the Brits created a new country for every oil field.
    This fragmentation of existing countries is going on today. Look at Sudan. It was outside forces that worked to split Darfur from the central government. That one seemed to fail. But they succeeded in South Sudan. Now there is a nice civil war going on there.
    I don’t have a clear sense of who is working to break up Sudan, but it is pretty clear that the US has had its hands in that process (and no, it is not just George Cloony, he someones useful idiot). Israel is probably a factor but a small one.

  15. ToivoS says:

    There seems to a consistent theme here: what in the hell is the US trying accomplish with its current foreign policy? I have been asking that question since we attacked Libya. It is difficult to answer. What strategic plan can one envision that explains: pivot to Asia (antagonize China), support the Kiev Maidan protests (antagonize Russian), topple Qadaffi in Libya, support jihadists fighting Assad in Syria (antagonize Russia, Iran and any rational person who see Al qaida as an enemy) and at the same time try to make peace with Iran (antagonize Israel and the entire American Lobby).
    In short there is no rational plan. It just looks like an admin totally in over its head reeling from one circumstance to another trying to patch together some short term solutions to problems that will require long term (and rational) plans.
    I can see why so many military leaders must be so frustrated with our current political leadership — this is not just the most recent admin but has to include both the Clinton and Bush admins. The US military cannot solve these problems but it seems they are always being asked to take care of the latest crisis.

  16. Babak Makkinejad says:

    In the cause of wounding Iran and helping Israel, all is justified.
    Note that this is also a Pan-European policy with Canada and Australia thrown in for good measure.

  17. Dismayed says:

    a hypothesis: It seems to me that we have no grand strategy, developed with an evidence-based assessment of U.S. national interests and orchestrated and implemented by a central authority capable of enforcing adherence to the program from the various bureaucracies. (What has the NSC done for anyone lately?) Instead, the factionalism that reigns supreme in the bureaucracies (inclusive of Congress) is exploited by the Israel Lobby and profit-driven contractors to push their own interests which rarely enhance American security or prosperity. Those benefiting from the current system will fight tooth and nail against any effort to impose discipline.
    A baby steps towards correcting the problem might be to ban the issue of security clearance to anyone holding foreign citizenship, regardless of their U.S. status. Occupancy of a US national security billet isn’t some civil right, and the taxpayers have a right to expect that those in them don’t have loyalties to foreign countries. Does any other nation allow this foolish practice?

  18. Ryan says:

    I felt the same way about Rand until I read this:
    See if this makes any sense to you. I believe Raimondo may be onto something here.

  19. Ryan says:

    “What the hell do the Washnigton/New York crowd think they are accomplishing in Syria?”
    I take this question to be rhetorical.
    All the answers provided above. My on view is they are like someone playing poker who believes if he plays one more hand he’ll win back all he’s lost. I admit that this is crude, but they are a crude bunch and I haven’t seen anything that show deep thinking save one thing. They are good at political infighting in DC. When it comes to long range strategic thinking, not so good.
    I have this view based on observations made over the last two decades. Neocons and R2P types are made up of two groups, the fanatics and the cynics. The fanatics really do believe the BS about “promoting democracy” (why curse anyone with that), “freedom on the march”, ad nauseam. The cynics know better and are simply out for power. They really get off on lording over others.
    It’s funny from my point to hear them accuse Iran of being lead by non-rational actors. They should find a mirror the same size as their egos and take a good hard look.

  20. Castellio says:

    Israeli policy isn’t only the balkanization of the region, but the degrading of the economic capabilities of her neighbours. This policy has Gaza as the most extreme example, but includes Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Egypt.
    The policy has been in effect, and has been effective, for a long time. There is nothing new in it. It is not irrational, but it is predicated on an on-going war footing and American military and financial power.
    What is irrational is the American support for a policy that goes against its own interests.

  21. turcopolier says:

    It’s a thought. pl

  22. Tyler says:

    Our current policy is an unholy blend of what happens when you combine people with a truefaith in blank slate, and no concern beyond next week’s news cycle.
    Is this how Yeats felt when he wrote “the falcon cannot hear the falconer”?

  23. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Year after year and decade after decade US electorate confirms men and women with a very high – or as you say irrational support – for Israel.
    This policy is clearly considered to be in the interests of the United States as determined by her citizens.
    Likewise in Canada, in EU, and in Australia; democratic elections has consistently led to pro-Israel governments and legislatures over a period of decades.
    I think it is quite evident that there are a billion people in the world that Love Israel and they are willing to help support and provide succor to her.

  24. Ryan says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Warfare by other means.

  25. YT says:

    RE: thinking he is related to Anne.
    Apparently, Narratives built along the lines of Myth are of a more persuading Nature than Reality…
    “I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience.”
    Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

  26. PirateLaddie says:

    Crocker was my boss (as Amb.) for a one-year stint in Islamabad. Very professional & committed guy in a strange and increasingly surreal situation. A previous tour in Karachi gave me a different perspective, one that didn’t blend well w/the agreed wisdom of the compound, which was Agency-driven. Still & all, one of the more honorable & capable heads of mission I ran across.
    Good to hear that he’s still preaching to the pig-headed and unwashed — how else to build up treasure in Heaven?

  27. Babak Makkinejad,
    You beg a crucial question – that of how significant is the gap which is palpably opening up between government policies and the views of the wider society in at least some ‘Western’ countries.
    There have been recurrent articles, in the Israeli press, complaining about the growth of hostility to Israel in Britain – and also the reluctance of many influential British Jews to act as cheerleaders for Israeli policy.
    So, for example, an article in ‘The Jerusalem Post’ from March 2012, entitled ‘Anglo Jewish leaders and “trembling Israelites”’, was subtitled ‘Candidly Speaking: London has emerged as the European hub of Israeli delegitimization.’ An excerpt:
    ‘Robert Wistrich, the expert on global anti-Semitism, refers to the “evil wind blowing through England’s green and pleasant land” in which anti-Israeli rhetoric has infiltrated all levels of the British intelligentsia to the extent that “it may be time to leave.”
    ‘Yet in this context, Anglo Jewish leadership remains in denial. In his Jerusalem Post interview, Wineman conceded that “there is an awful lot of anti-Israeli feeling which sometimes morphs into anti-Semitism.” Yet, when Robin Shepherd, a leading non-Jewish academic and friend of Israel, remarked that the dramatic upsurge of anti-Israeli feeling and boycotts suggested “that the darkness is closing in… for the Jews of Britain,” Wineman castigated him for being “misguided and alarmist.”’
    The article also discusses some interesting remarks by Mick Davis, a prominent (originally South African) Jewish business figure, who heads the Jewish leadership council:
    ‘Davis, who also heads the United Jewish Israel Appeal, had previously created a storm by urging British Jews to criticize the Jewish state’s handling of the peace process. Employing the terminology of our enemies, he warned that Israel was in danger of becoming an “apartheid” state.
    ‘In remarks unprecedented for any Diaspora Jewish leader, Davis stated: “I think the government of Israel has to recognize that their actions directly impact on me as a Jew living in London, UK. When they do good things, it is good for me when they do bad things, it’s bad for me. And the impact on me is as significant as it is on Jews living in Israel. I want them to recognize that.”’
    (See )
    It is clear that many Zionists – in Israel, the United States and to some extent in Britain, as the comments by Wistrich illustrate – cannot see what is going on. The notion that the increase in hostility to Israel here is the product of a recurrence of anti-Semitism is complete BS.
    Indeed, what defines Mick Davis’s problem is precisely the fact that he knows that it is precisely many of the most traditionally philosemitic elements in British society – myself and my wife being cases in point – who have turned against Israel.
    Accordingly, people like Davis – who is, incidentally, not a Sheldon Adelson figure, but a fundamentally decent and civilised man – are caught in an untenable and indeed in many ways tragic situation. It is enormously psychologically traumatic for them to abandon their commitment to Israel. But they also know that going on acting as Israel’s apologists would have no effect whatsoever in countering the shift of opinion here against the country – and would simply undermine their own position.
    A question which has preoccupied me for a long time is whether similar dynamics are at work in the United States.
    It now seems to me that there are three critical differences between the American and British situations – all of which relate to the complex relationship of American and British culture.
    One is that the eschatological strain in Protestant Christianity, which originated in Britain, remains quite strong in the United States, but is no longer strong here, even among Evangelicals.
    Another is that the American Jewish community appears to be largely dominated by people who were, and remain, fundamentally ghetto Jews. In Britain, by contrast, there is a much greater influence both of Anglo-Jewish elites some of whose members had a passionate determination to escape from the ghetto, and of German ‘yekke’ culture, which was fundamentally assimilationist.
    Bound up with both these facts is what seems to me a curious phenomenon: the willingness of so many of the ‘goyim’ in the United States to be blackmailed by explicit or implicit accusations of complicity in the Holocaust. Over here, such accusations no longer cut any ice.
    How the situation is developing in the countries of continental Europe I cannot say.

  28. Peggy says:

    DH, It is curious, isn’t it: “Bound up with both these facts is what seems to me a curious phenomenon: the willingness of so many of the ‘goyim’ in the United States to be blackmailed by explicit or implicit accusations of complicity in the Holocaust. Over here, such accusations no longer cut any ice.”
    Let me add to the little rundown of my perceptions of American attachment to Israel. I focused before on the dread of being labelled an anti-Semite.
    A less obvious factor and one that needs some historical excavation is the tendency of many U.S. Catholics to assume responsibility for the Holocaust. Over many decades, U.S. Catholics seems to have stepped up for the German Catholic Church and Hitler (about which much has been written) and accepted a kind of vicarious responsibility. From that perspective, criticism of Israel is pretty much verboten.

  29. Castellio says:

    In this respect I think of all these countries as failed or failing democracies.
    First, the historical and current information is not widely available and is systemically distorted in its public presentation. Secondly, those who act to set the record straight are attacked and intimidated. Third, there is no party running in those countries which take a different position vis-a-vis Israel/Palestine. Fourth, the fact that there are no parties that take a different position is not a reflection of undivided popular opinion, but rather the role of an engaged and biased press, access to financial support, and acts of intimidation to stifle the debate. And fifth, perhaps most importantly: it is widely felt that the harmful effects of a misguided and sectarian Middle Eastern policy can be kept “over there”.
    Until there is a wide open debate with all the information available and discussed, including a frank acknowledgment of how failed Middle Eastern policy is changing daily life and legal values in the countries that pursue it, and then a vote where different options are actually available, then I think it somewhat misleading to suggest the governments are following the will of the people in this regard.
    If you wish to justify yourself by saying that this can’t happen, or will never happen, then I think you are joining me in my initial point that these countries currently represent failing or failed democracies.

  30. Babak Makkinejad says:

    All I see is a deep religious commitment from ostensibly secular polities to the religious cause of Jews.
    It is amusing, you must admit, that with that religious commitment and sentiment goes, at the same time, a military alliance that seems to be itching for the next bombing and the next war – all the while upholding the Absolute Freedom of naked young women to eject eggs from the orifices of their bodies in public as expressions of Artistic and Intellectual Freedom?
    Where is Petronius the Arbiter when one needs him?

  31. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Surely you cannot be seriously arguing that electorate in Germany or Denmark or Sweden or Italy are ill-informed?
    I find your position untenable since as far as I can tell information regarding Palestine, for example, is widely available – in the age of Internet etc.
    You are, in my opinion, trying to excuse the electorate and absolve them from their responsibility in all of this.
    One cannot, I think, keep on saying that “I was neo-conned” for decades and be credible.
    In my opinion, stating that the electorate of a billion people is in Love with Israel is a more plausible hypotheses than stating that democracy has failed among 30 states during the past several decades.

  32. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you; I did not know that US Catholics had also drunk deep at that Kool Aide fountain.

  33. Castellio says:

    I think it important to note, briefly, that the intimidation against those who publicly question Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza is not restricted to accusations of being an anti-Semite, which is the public act.
    People are threatened with physical harm by anonymous phone callers, and malicious representations are made to one’s professional superiors, etc..
    It is not pretty, nor is it in the abstract.

  34. Castellio says:

    I was thinking more of the anglo countries: the US, Canada, the UK, Australia; those countries with media that I know and follow, and where the “democratic deficit” at the federal (or central state) level, for a number of structural reasons, is all too real.
    However, even given that, my suspicion is that there is much less popular support of Israeli intransigence in Germany, Sweden and Italy (I leave out Denmark) than you seem to be suggesting. Certainly your claim of a billion people I find rhetorical.
    As to your last paragraph: I really wasn’t claiming 30 states, that is your number that has suddenly appeared, but limiting ourselves to the English speaking nations; we disagree.
    Quoting you: “All I see is a deep religious commitment from ostensibly secular polities to the religious cause of Jews.”
    Perhaps that is all you see, but that is not all there is to be seen.

  35. Babak Makkinejad says:

    NATO consists of 28 member states, add to that Australia and New Zealand and you will get 30.
    Japan and Korea are not sovereign states and their position in this is not decided by their electorates.

  36. Castellio says:

    To get specific of what else is to be seen, and this at a most critical moment of decision, I recommend John Judis’ recent book, Genesis: Truman, American Jews and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict.
    A well written review of the book is to be found here:
    Quoting from that review: “… Harry Truman was opposed to establishing a religious state in Palestine out of the fear that it would lead to endless conflict, and possibly World War III. But he was overwhelmed by a Zionist lobby that corrupted the policy-making process.”
    Please note that this information in a concise, readable and well documented form is only coming out in 2014.
    I would also point out that much of the historical print news from the Middle East came through AP, Reuters, and NYT. It would be silly to start in on the biases of these sources, but the prejudices are real and well documented. They have long term repercussions.
    If I am reading you correctly – and I apologize if I am not – the point you are making is that western society (your 30 nations) are not as secular as they pretend, and act according to perceived religious affiliations. Personally, I have no argument with that as a generalization, but the actual historical decisions made regarding Israel were not made by general western populations: they were specific decisions made within specific interest groups (see above). That has not changed.
    (Many non-Zionist Jews, by the way, both religious and non-religious, fought and still fight the establishment of a religious Jewish state and the theocratic ideological commitment behind it.)
    I am not trying to excuse the electorate and absolve them from responsibility. I spend a good deal of time trying to help that responsibility be met. I am saying that they have not had access to informed historical interpretation, I am saying that those who have spoken out have been (and are) attacked, I am saying that one’s vote on the subject is impossible to have noted as no party represents the contrary position, partially due to the bias of the press, and I am saying that one of the reasons that this “democratic deficit” is tolerated is that what happens “over there” hasn’t been taken to be all that important.
    However, the conflict is no longer simply “over there”, and can’t be kept at arms length forever. The consequences are becoming more clear, just as the democratic institutions are, for a variety of reasons, becoming ever weaker.

  37. Castellio says:

    NATO policies are not a reflection of popular majority desires in NATO countries. You are proving my point about failing democratic institutions.

Comments are closed.