Friday, November 20, 2015

Bobo claims to like Hillary Clinton's ISIS speech

David "Bobo" Brooks claims to be impressed with Hillary Clinton's foreign policy speech this week. As he explains in Hillary Clinton Takes On ISIS New York Times 11/20/2015.

But he uses her speech to advocate for the good old neocon program of spreading democracy by toppling Arab governments all over the place, with Assad's government in Syria being the proximate regime change target:

Clinton therefore gestured to the reality that you can’t really deal with ISIS unless you are also willing to deal with Assad. Assad is not some secondary threat who we can deal with after we’ve tamed the ISIS monster. Assad created the failed state and the power vacuum that ISIS was able to fill. Assad serves as chief recruiter for ISIS every time he drops a barrel bomb on a school or a market. Assad, as Clinton pointed out, has murdered even more Syrians than ISIS has.

Dealing with both Assad and ISIS simultaneously throws you into the bitter and complex jockeying between Sunni and Shiite, between Iran and Saudi Arabia. It puts pressure on your Ukraine policy (Vladimir Putin will want concessions as a price for backing off his aggression in the Middle East). Everything is connected. Which is why the presidency is for grown-ups, not rank outsiders. [my emphasis]
I wonder how many Americans had ever heard of a "barrel bomb" before it became a stock propaganda point against Assad's regime.

Bobo proceeds to argue that Arab nationalism has failed, and various national states along with them. He quotes Max Boot, one of the professional warmongers who employs his best hackery in the cause of promoting war:

That means confronting the forces that thrive in failed states. That begins with stepped-up military pressure on ISIS. Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations proposes a campaign like the one that allowed the Northern Alliance to overthrow the Taliban after 9/11 — a light footprint campaign using Special Operations forces and C.I.A. paramilitaries to direct allied bombing in support of locals on the ground. Once life becomes a miserable grind for ISIS soldiers, recruiting will suffer.

But it also means going hard on Assad, creating no-fly zones for sanctuaries for Syrian refugees to limit his power, ratcheting up pressure on Iran and Russia to force his departure. And it also means supporting institutional reform, as Clinton said, throughout the Arab world, to revitalize nations as functioning units. Not an unsustainable stab at nation-building, but better governance from top to bottom. [my emphasis]
The link in Bobo's quote which is in the online original takes you to the neocon's mothership ideological magazine, Commentary.

Jim Lobe provides a valuable sketch on Boot's outlook and career in The Mindless Militarism of Max Boot 11/18/2015.

I would summarize the obvious advocacy and implications of Bobo's proposal this way:

  • A military campaign would be quick and easy, just like the Northern Alliance ousting of the Taliban government of Afghanistan in 2001 (Reality to ignore: the US is still at war in Afghanistan 14 years later with no end in sight)
  • Create no-fly zones over Syria (Reality to ignore: this risks direct military confrontation with Russia)
  • Create sanctuary zones for refugees, aka, safe havens, that would presumably be controlled by someone acceptable to the US (Reality to ignore: Those Syrian Moderates we've been hearing about for years are proving harder to find than herds of frolicking unicorns)
  • Forcing reform to all Arab governments "from top to bottom" (Reality to ignore: Iraq, 2203-present)

To repeat the question I've been asking a lot lately: What could possibly go wrong?

This lady has found a Syrian Moderate!

Juan Cole points to the only political goal that seems remotely feasible at the moment, A New Yalta? Can France Craft an alliance of Putin & Obama against Daesh/ISIL? Informed Comment 11/18/2015.