Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton essentially parroted President Barack Obama’s anti-Islamic State strategy at Sunday night’s presidential debate.
Clinton laid out her plan to use special forces embedded with Syrian rebel groups, possibly providing arms to Kurdish rebel groups, and targeting ISIS senior leadership.
“I would not use American ground forces in Syria. I think that would be a very serious mistake,” Clinton declared. Debate moderator Martha Raddatz pressed Clinton asking, “But what would you do differently than President Obama is doing?”
Clinton quickly pivoted from the question, essentially committing herself to the core constructs of Obama’s anti-ISIS strategy. Obama has already sent 300 U.S. special operators to Syria, the U.S. is already closely cooperating with the Kurdish Peshmerga, and U.S. has been aggressively targeting ISIS leaders since 2014.
Clinton expressed hope that the soon-to-be-launched U.S. operation to retake Mosul from ISIS succeeds by the time she would assume office, so that she could focus on defeating ISIS in Syria. The only point of disagreement between Obama and Clinton rests on the establishment of a “no-fly zone” or a “safe zone.” Either option would require the U.S. to state its intent to shoot down any aircraft that violated the zone.
A no-fly zone establishment also requires the U.S. to wipe out Assad and Russia’s air defense capabilities in Syria, to ensure the safety of U.S. aircraft. “For us to control all of the airspace in Syria it would require us to go to war, against Syria and Russia,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford told Congress Sept. 26.
Dunford continued, “That’s a pretty fundamental decision that certainly I’m not going to make.”
Reports indicate Obama is steadily reluctant to commit any U.S. military power to Syria, and will allow Russia and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to level the city of Aleppo.
Aleppo will mark a major strategic victory for the Assad regime, and will likely ensure his position for years to come. “There’s no ultimate military victory to be won,” Obama declared at the recent UN General Assembly.
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