Washington | In a big embarrassment to the Obama Administration, dozens of State Department officials have signed an internal memo opposing its Syria policy and called for targeted military strikes in the war-torn country.
The memo, which took the Obama administration by surprise, was reported by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal yesterday. Secretary of State John Kerry said he was looking forward to reading the memo.
The administration obviously welcomes a strong deliberation on foreign policy challenges that face our nation, White House Deputy Press Secretary Jennifer Friedman told reporters. As the President has said and others have said, we’re always open to new or different ideas when it comes to the challenges in Syria. And the President certainly expects a robust discussion to be brought forward, she said.
While both the White House and the State Department appeared to be open to this blunt feedback from its own diplomats, such large scale dissent was possibly last reported during the Bangladesh’s war through the so-called ‘Blood Telegram’ in 1971. We have always said that we have to work hard at getting to better outcomes in Syria.
We have and we’re going to continue to explore our options within the policy that we’re pursuing as well as options that may at this time fall outside the current policy. We have to do that, State Department Spokesman John Kirby told reporters. But as the President has said and as the Secretary has said, as we look at other options, none of them are great options.
The best option forward for Syria is a political process that leads to a transition to a government away from Bashar al-Assad, a political solution. And we still believe that a political solution is the best solution for the people of Syria and for the region, Kirby said in response to a question.
Friedman said US President Barack Obama has been clear and continues to be clear that he does not see a military solution to the crisis in Syria. And so that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be discussions or a variety of conversations and a variety of opinions, but that fundamental principle still remains, she said.
This is an existing official vehicle that’s in place to allow State Department employees to convey alternative views and perspectives on policy issues, Friedman said in response to a question.
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