Clinton Calls U.S. Policy in Syria a “Failure”

Glen Ford of BlackAgendaReport.com discusses his qualified agreement with Hilary Clinton on the “failure” of U.S. policy In Syria

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JARED BALL, PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome everyone, back to the Real News Network. I’m Jared Ball here in Baltimore.

In what is truly an unthinkable moment Glen Ford, our next guest and executive editor and founder of BlackAgendaReport.com, actually agrees with former Secretary of State and current frontrunner for the nomination of the Democratic party for president, Hillary Clinton. Both agree, albeit for perhaps different reasons, that as Clinton said this weekend, U.S. policy in Syria is a “failure”. Let’s hear some of her comments from an appearance this Sunday on Face the Nation right now.

HOST: You advocated for arming Syrian rebels. That was then ultimately put in place. We now hear that that is not going well at all. Out of 12,000 Syrians that have been trained there are only a handful that can actually fight. Was this a bad idea, or was this a bad–or was this a good idea poorly executed?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, John, I did recommend that at the beginning of this conflict we do more to help train those who were in the forefront of leading the opposition against Assad, looking to try to bring the moderates together. A lot of these rebels originally, they were business people. They were professional people. They were students. They had no training in going up against the Syrian army, which Assad clearly was going to use to the ultimate effect. That was not the decision taken at that time. A lot of what I worried about has happened. There are now big, ungoverned territories within Syria that are dominated by terrorist groups, ISIS being the best-known but not the only one. You have Iran and Russia increasingly moving in to support Assad and his constant bombardment against his own people, and then you have these millions of refugees.

So where we are today is not where we were. And where we are today is that we have a failed program. You heard the testimony. Five people trained for half–$500 million, half a billion dollars. But I think we still have to keep working with the Turks, with the Jordanians, with others of our partners. We also have to do more to support the Kurds.

BALL: So Glen, welcome back to the Real News. And please if you would explain the similarities and differences in your position on U.S. policy in Syria, and is this current agreement you have with Clinton foreshadowing a shift in BAR’s editorial direction?

GLEN FORD, EXEC. EDITOR, BLACK AGENDA REPORT: Well you know, she is correct. This is a failed policy. But it’s not just a failed program, it’s a failed strategy that the United States has been employing over the last 35 years since the U.S. and Saudi Arabia actually created, we’re not just the midwives of but we’re the birth mothers of the international jihadist movement. Which didn’t exist until the Saudis and the United States put it together to fight the Soviets and the left wing government and secular government in Afghanistan. And they’ve been using these people, these jihadists, as foot soldiers ever since.

And the reason that they use them as foot soldiers is because there is no social basis for the U.S. policy in the Muslim world. Certainly not in that part of the Middle East. And so you can’t get large numbers of people to volunteer to be part of an armed force that is managed by the Americans. That’s why we could only get 54 people to train, and now have only four or five, according to the [black] general who heads the central command, who might be out there somewhere. If they are out there somewhere. If they are out there somewhere they’re probably with ISIS.

Hillary isn’t the only one that’s disavowing this program. President Obama is disavowing it, too. He’s saying now that this program was forced upon him by the Republicans who kept on saying you have to arm these so-called moderates, this group that socially does not exist. You have to arm them, and if you don’t then you will be responsible for losing Syria. And so he claims now that he only did this reluctantly, and that the Republicans will have to pay, bear the weight of the failure of that program.

And then we have this sidebar issue, which I think is very interesting, in which we have 50 intelligence analysts from the Defense Intelligence Agency who say that their superiors have been cooking the books in terms of reporting on what’s actually going on on the ground in Syria. Specifically, how strong ISIS really is. That they’ve been telling the top brass that ISIS really is growing and dynamic and a threat, and that when the reports finally reach the public and the president, we see ISIS as being downplayed. And even Obama not too long ago described the Islamic State as being JV, meaning Junior Varsity. That is, not much of an opponent.

So this policy is totally in shambles, but more importantly this whole 35-year strategy of the United States to have the jihadists do the fighting for it is coming apart. They now have a life of their own. They have minds of their own. And they are not totally under the control of the United States.

BALL: So Glen, given what you’ve said here about the role and the position taken by all these principal players–one, it sounds like there’s some rogue element going on, if both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are saying that they are not supporting this policy. It seems like there is a rudderless ship at play here. And then I also would want to know what you think about Bernie Sanders and his position in that suggesting, or supporting that Saudi Arabia be more involved in the region and have more of its will implemented in the region and on these issues and politics. What do you think about all of that?

FORD: To use your ship metaphor, it’s not just the rats jumping off the ship. It’s the captain abandoning the ship and the first mate, which is I guess what Hillary used to do. They’re abandoning the ship, and blaming other folks for the ship being so leaky. In terms of Bernie Sanders and saying that the Saudis should go ahead and get their hands dirty, like they’re not dirty enough, both in terms of their beheadings of their own citizens and their vicious war in Yemen. But most of all, their partnership with the United States, the government that Bernie Sanders hopes to lead. The partnership in actually getting this international jihadist movement started.

So his encouragement of Saudi Arabia to become more aggressive with its Wahhabist, jihadist ideology is really kind of breathtaking for someone who calls himself a man of peace and maybe even a socialist.

BALL: Well, Glen Ford, thanks again for joining us here at the Real News.

FORD: Thank you.

BALL: And thank you for joining us here at the Real News Network. And again as always, for all involved, I’m Jared Ball here in Baltimore saying, as Fred Hampton used to say, to you we say peace if you’re willing to fight for it. So peace, everybody, and we’ll catch you in the whirlwind.

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