Last week, on November 5, The Wall Street Journal reported that the CIA will be stepping up its illegal war in Syria by increasing the number of weapons it is providing to the so-called Syrian moderate opposition, putting the lie to President Obama’s pledge not to lead the United States into a proxy war with Russia. If a hearing held by the House Foreign Affairs Committee last Wednesday morning on “Russia’s Escalation in Syria” is any indication, the president should expect little to no opposition to the CIA’s action.
The committee heard testimony from two assistant secretaries of state, Victoria Nuland, under whose purview Russia falls, and Anne Patterson, who has the unhappy responsibility for overseeing American policy in North Africa and the Middle East.
The first thing that needs to be said about the hearing is that it highlighted the remarkable dexterity of the American war party, that bipartisan coalition of congressional war hawks that—to borrow a line from the British statesman John Morley—changes its aim, but never changes it stand. The war party’s stand, or goal, is to forever ruin US-Russian relations. But rather than being preoccupied by Russia’s much-decried invasion of Ukraine, it is now focused on Russia’s “escalation” over Syria.
Assistant Secretary of State Nuland kicked things off by declaring that “Russia’s new direct combat role in Syria has exacerbated an already dangerous refugee outflow, straining even the most generous Europeans’ ability to cope.”
Nuland’s assertion, supported by neither evidence nor chronology, was eagerly taken up by several members of the committee.
Congressman Ami Bera claimed that Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war is “exacerbating” the situation and is the primary cause of the refugee crisis. Bera seemed particularly exercised that the refugee crisis may be taking a toll on Turkey. Bera might do well to take some time to think things through a bit. The reason Syrian refugees are flooding into Turkey (and from there, Europe) is because for years Turkey has been aiding efforts to overthrow the Assad regime.
Congressman Gerry Connelly demanded to know if Russia will “cease and desist” its excursions into Turkish airspace. Connolly’s time might have been better spent asking whether Turkey will cease and desist aiding ISIS.
Alone among his colleagues, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher spoke of his frustration over the hostility with which the United States continually treats Russia, especially considering the solicitous nature with which we treat the Sunni Gulf-state tyrannies.
Further, Rohrabacher pointed out that countries like Saudi Arabia are ruled by cliques of extremists who are “no better than Assad.” Indeed, the war party policy of antagonizing Russia has caused a great deal of great harm, according to Rohrabacher our rejection of a deal proffered by Putin regarding Syria five years ago has come at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and millions of displaced persons.