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Obama Is Facing A Diplomatic Crisis Not Seen Since The Vietnam War

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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In a diplomatic revolt not seen since the Vietnam War, 51 United States Diplomats signed an internal State Department memo scathing President Obama’s Syria policy, and urging Obama to strike the Syrian Regime. The diplomats are enraged by continual Syrian violations of agreed upon ceasefires and the “overwhelming” of U.S. foreign policy by the Syrian civil war.

The diplomatic revolt is unprecedented in modern American foreign policy. Even at the height of the divisive Iraq war, the U.S. diplomatic corps did not revolt in such a public and embarrassing way. The diplomats sent the memo though the State Department’s dissent channel, which was was set up during the Vietnam war. The channel allows diplomats to protest current administration policy without fearing for their careers.

[dcquiz] The high profile dissent is reminiscent of the famous ‘General’s Revolt’ at the height of the U.S. bombing effort in Vietnam. The then-Joint Chiefs of Staff were united in their opposition to the Johnson administration’s attrition strategy against the North Vietnamese. The chiefs confronted President Lyndon Johnson in the Oval Office, who refused to hear their concerns.

The diplomats who signed the memo were almost all career members of the foreign service, with hundreds of years of combined experience operating in the Middle East. “The status quo in Syria will continue to present increasingly dire, if not disastrous, humanitarian, diplomatic and terrorism-related challenges,” the memo said.

President Barack Obama declared in 2012 that Syrian use of chemical weapons against the civilian population was a “red line” for the U.S. After reports came to light of Syrian regime chemical weapon use, Washington opted for a Russian brokered solution, in which Syria would turn over its chemical weapons stockpile.

The U.S. mission in Syria currently does not consider the Assad regime. The U.S. is focused primarily on the destruction of the Islamic State, which some analysts have said fits into Assad’s grander strategy. Diplomats and experts have strongly dissented against the Obama administration’s narrow mission focus, saying the Assad regime enables the conditions for the existence of the Islamic State.

Despite the high profile public recriminations of the Obama Administration’s policy, there is little chance of changing course in Syria. President Obama and his closest foreign policy advisors have publicly lampooned the idea of increasing the U.S. role in Syria believing it would lead to a full scale U.S. military intervention.

“I profoundly do not believe that the United States could make things better in Syria by being there. And we have an evidentiary record of what happens when we’re there — nearly a decade in Iraq,” President Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told The New York Times Magazine.

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