Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey says the United States is not providing Syrian rebels what they would need to win the war against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Dempsey’s remarks keep the chairman ““ a former division commander in the Iraq war ““ on familiar footing, as he leads top Pentagon generals skeptical of using direct U.S. military force to aid Syrian rebels or otherwise intervene militarily in Syria’s future because of the country’s anticipated long-term security needs after any initial conflict. Dempsey outlined specifically why he believes Syria’s rebels need far more than a rescue mission.
“They need the force they have now, which is trying to protect local villages and try to harass the regime and level the playing field. They need something that eventually will be able to hold ground. And they need a counterterror capability ““ all of which is responsive to Syrians,” Dempsey said Wednesday at the Atlantic Council, a NATO-oriented think tank in Washington,D.C. “And we are not on a path currently to provide that.”
“That’s the conversation that we need to have,” Dempsey said, but not unilaterally, instead calling for countries in the region to face the reality of those needs. “It’s Beirut to Damascus to Baghdad,” Dempsey said.
From the outset of Syria’s civil war — despite its growth in to a multi-year conflict claiming more than 100,000 lives and dispersing millions into neighboring Middle East states — Dempsey and senior U.S. military leaders, including Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff and former commander of the Iraq war, in their efforts to prepare military options in Syria for President Barack Obama, have publicly questioned the purpose of American troops in Syria after an Assad defeat.
In Syria, government forces have regained control of Homs, the country’s third-largest city, where a 2-year siege has residents feeling like the war is over, according to the Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile, France alleged Syria has conducted more than one dozen chemical attacks since the United States opted against military strikes last fall, and Lakhdar Brahimi, the top United Nations negotiator on Syria resigned Tuesday, signaling the West’s frustration at getting Syria’s fighting factions toward any political solution and fears that much more conflict is likely to come.
“Look, if Assad took his family and all of his cronies and departed Syria today, how does that country ““ how does it articulate itself?” Dempsey said.
“I’ve heard it described as a succession of conflicts. You have the conflict that currently exists; then there’ll be the second conflict, which is kind of an internal conflict; and then there’ll be the third conflict against the terrorist organizations that are growing,” he said. “That’s probably right.”
What We're Following See More »
Paul Ryan told CNN today he's "not ready" to back Donald Trump at this time. "I'm not there right now," he said. Ryan said Trump needs to unify "all wings of the Republican Party and the conservative movement" and then run a campaign that will allow Americans to "have something that they're proud to support and proud to be a part of. And we've got a ways to go from here to there."
In The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin gives Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the longread treatment. The scourge of corrupt New York pols, bad actors on Wall Street, and New York gang members, Bharara learned at the foot of Chuck Schumer, the famously limelight-hogging senator whom he served as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee staff. No surprise then, that after President Obama appointed him, Bharara "brought a media-friendly approach to what has historically been a closed and guarded institution. In professional background, Bharara resembles his predecessors; in style, he’s very different. His personality reflects his dual life in New York’s political and legal firmament. A longtime prosecutor, he sometimes acts like a budding pol; his rhetoric leans more toward the wisecrack than toward the jeremiad. He expresses himself in the orderly paragraphs of a former high-school debater, but with deft comic timing and a gift for shtick."
President Obama has announced another round of commutations of prison sentences. Most of the 58 individuals named are incarcerated for possessions with intent to distribute controlled substances. The prisoners will be released between later this year and 2018.
The Daily Beast has unearthed a piece that Donald Trump wrote for Gear magazine in 2000, which anticipates his 2016 sales pitch quite well. "Perhaps it's time for a dealmaker who can get the leaders of Congress to the table, forge consensus, and strike compromise," he writes. Oddly, he opens by defending his reputation as a womanizer: "The hypocrites argue that a man who loves and appreciates beautiful women (and does so legally and openly) shouldn't become a national leader? Is there something wrong with appreciating beautiful women? Don't we want people in public office who show signs of life?"