Patrick Cockburn
July 15, 2016
The Unz Review

As political leaders across the world swear to engage in total war against Isis in the wake of the massacre in Nice, not enough notice is being taken of the fact that the long-term prospects of the group will be boosted if Hillary Clinton is elected as the next US President. President Obama and the Pentagon have been giving priority to first weakening and then eliminating Isis, and have been having a fair measure of success. The Iraqi army backed by US-led air strikes have recaptured Fallujah and the self-declared Caliphate has suffered a series of defeats in both Iraq and Syria.

But Hillary Clinton’s expected choice as Defence Secretary, Michèle Flournoy, has just co-authored a report by the Centre for a New American Security (CNAS) in Washington that recommends that the destruction of Isis should no longer be the overriding objective of the US in Syria, but that equal priority should be given to taking military action against President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian Army. A new pro-US armed opposition would be built up to fight Assad, Isis, al-Nusra and other al-Qaeda clones, a process that the report admits could take years – and “during that time the dangers posed by Isis will remain”. This is not a marginal opinion among hawks in Washington, as a recently leaked memo from 51 serving State Department officials argued very much the same thing.

This proposed change of policy by a Clinton administration is all too likely, going by her past record of choosing military solutions to complex problems even when it means fighting more than one war at a time and when the outcome is unclear. As a Senator, she voted for the Iraq war in 2003 and, as Secretary of State in 2011, she was the driving force behind the Nato military intervention in Libya that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi and handed over the country to criminalised warlords. Her opinions normally coincide with those on the hawkish end of the US foreign policy establishment, whose policies Obama contemptuously described in a famous interview with The Atlantic Monthly as “the Washington Playbook”.

Once Hillary Clinton is in the White House, the “Playbook” that Obama so despises will be very much back in business. A frightening preview of what is to come can be found in the CNAS report, which comes across as a caricature of Washington wishful thinking that is woefully detached from real conditions on the ground.

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