Robert Ford, former Ambassador to Syria
In a recent interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Robert Ford, former Ambassador to Syria, an able and brilliant Middle East strategist, said he resigned from his position because he could no longer stand by his government. He was in line for an Ambassadorship to Egypt at the time of his resignation.
There is nothing in our foreign policy that has been successful, he said. Even the removal of Assad’s chemicals is ineffective. Assad is using chlorine gas. Ford didn’t mention the fact that Assad has been hiding chemicals and will miss the upcoming U.N. deadline for removal of chemical materials.
“I was no longer in a position where I felt I could defend the American policy,” he said. “We have been unable to address either the root causes of the conflict in terms of the fighting on the ground and the balance on the ground, and we have a growing extremism threat.”“There really is nothing we can point to that’s been very successful in our policy except the removal of about ninety-three percent of some of Assad’s chemical materials. But now he’s using chlorine gas against his opponents.”Ford said it is “now widely known that the State Department thought we needed to give much more help to the armed opposition in Syria.”
Ford said we need to do more to help our friends and allies in Syria because the terrorists are filling the vacuum as the fighting rages on. Al Qaeda is spreading and gaining strongholds just as we knew they would. He said we know who the good guys are and we need to give them much more help.
“The United States and our friends, we have tools that could put greater pressure on Bashar al-Assad,” Ford said. “Especially as the extremist threat to the United States and to our friends emanating out of Syria grows, I think we really must consider carefully whether or not we are doing all we can to help our friends in Syria.”
Assad would not be in the powerful position he is now in, Ford told Amanpour, were it not for the support from outside powers like Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia.
“We’re always a little bit behind the curve. And we need to get ahead of the curve. That is important.”“We’ve identified them quite well now. Some people say, well, we don’t know them well enough; we can’t depend on them. We know them quite well. We’ve worked with them for years.”
“They need to get the tools they must have to change the balance on the ground, at least in some localities.”
“And by the way, they’re actually winning in the north of Syria. Assad has done well in the capital, down south. But in the north, the moderate opposition is actually gaining ground.”
“We will need friends on the ground – not American soldiers, but friends, Syrians – who are fighting those groups and we need to help those people in their fight against al Qaeda. And we need to do it urgently.”
Ford said that the moderate opposition is forced to fight both the Assad regime and Islamist terrorist groups, and that is no surprise. We could see it coming. Assad “physically does not control two-thirds of Syria,” Ford said.
“And we warned even as long as two years ago that terrorist groups would go into that vacuum, as we had seen in places like Afghanistan and Somalia and Yemen and Mali.”
“This is not rocket science. In a place where there is no government control, terrorist groups can infiltrate in and set up places where they can operate freely.”
“And we warned this would happen in Syria, and it has.”“I think all of us, people who hold to basic values of human decency and dignity, need to help Syrians.”
“It is not a conflict that we should ignore, either on moral grounds or on national security grounds, given the extremist threat to us and our friends.”
Listen to the following two clips:
We were warned years ago about the terrorism that would and has taken over Syria and extended into other countries in the Middle East and Africa. The al Qaeda threat is spreading and we have done nothing that has worked.
Ford said he was in agreement with Leon Panetta, Hillary Clinton, David Petraeus, et al that we needed to provide more support to the non-jihadist opposition at the beginning of the war.
“Had there been more military assistance and logistical assistance – and even things like cash – two things would have happened differently. Number one, the opposition would have probably been able to gain more ground a couple of years ago more quickly and been able to go to a negotiating table in a much stronger position, the regime would have been much weaker.
And the second thing is – this is really important, Christiane – the ability of al Qaeda and Islamist extremist groups to recruit away from the moderates would have been less. And we would have less of an extremism problem in Syria now. Had there been more systems provided to the moderate forces even a year or two ago, it would have made a big difference.”
Robert Ford courageously resigned for the right reasons. We need more Robert Fords. No one can deny the results outlined by Ford which were both predictable and preventable. What our president did instead was to embarrassingly draw and then erase an imaginary red line. He does nothing. He does nothing about everything. He only takes action when it is to force through a totalitarian system in our domestic sector, even then, he does it badly.
Ford is a man who gave up his position and his future promotions because he believes in the humanitarian cause and he knows our foreign policy has failed. He stands alone.
Coming from someone as competent and experienced as Robert Ford, we should take this very seriously.
What we shouldn’t take seriously is the Team Obama – his dudes – who recently described the Obama doctrine is “Don’t do stupid sh…stuff.” They can’t even get that right.
Read more at CNN.