Sunday, December 20, 2015

Imaginary Moderate Rebels

From yesterday's Democratic candidate debate:

Mrs. Clinton all but accused her rivals of naïveté. “I think it’s fair to say Assad has killed, by last count, about 250,000 Syrians,” she said, adding that she had wanted to arm the moderate Syrian opposition years ago to avoid the creation of a dangerous power vacuum. “I wish it could be either-or,” she said.

This is a pet peeve of mine. When there is a civil war, U.S. policy makers seem to always convince themselves there is a third option between regime and radical opponents. We did so in Cuba in the late 1950s and again in Nicaragua in the 1970s. It is a way to signal to your domestic supporters that you oppose a dictator while assuring your opponents that you won't let bad guys take over. This middle ground is pretty much imaginary.

Hillary Clinton is basically saying she clung to the mirage for a long time and now just wants regime change. It's not good policy but at least it's more honest.


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