U.S. Diplomats Speak Unrestrained Truth to Power on Syria

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Author: Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations
June 20, 2016
Financial Times

After five years of civil war, about 400,000 dead and the creation of more than 10m displaced persons and refugees, dozens of relatively junior US State Department officials have sent a memorandum to their bosses arguing that US policy towards Syria is failing and needs to change.

They communicated through the “dissent channel”, a mechanism created in the wake of the Vietnam war to ensure that mid-level diplomats could reach senior officials with views that challenged orthodoxy without fear of retribution. The channel is meant to be private but memos that disagree with prevailing policy have a tendency to become public.

The only surprise in all this is that broad internal opposition to US policy towards Syria has not surfaced earlier. There has long been a gap between the goals that the US has articulated and what it has been prepared to do to achieve them.

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