WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – On Friday, US State Department spokesperson John Kirby told Sputnik that an internal memorandum was under review urging the United States to take military action against the Syrian government. A draft of the memo, signed by 51 diplomats, was obtained by The New York Times from a State Department official on Thursday.
University of Oklahoma Center for Middle East Studies Director Joshua Landis told Sputnik on Friday that the memorandum represents an attempt to push the next US president in the direction of military intervention against Assad, but also shows that many are expecting former secretary of state Hillary Clinton to occupy the White House in January.
"It also indicates that many diplomats believe that they will not be punished for speaking out as we [the United States] will be getting a new Commander-in-Chief soon who is well disposed to a more muscular foreign policy," Landis said. "Diplomats may feel coming forward may actually advance their careers with Hillary."
The memorandum, Landis noted, also illustrates the divisions within the US foreign policy establishment vis-a-vis Syria at a time when the American public has grown weary of military adventurism.
"The United States is downsizing its universal ‘policeman of the World’ role," he explained. "This makes many foreign policy types nervous and upset."
"The United States has spent trillions of dollars and has little to show for it but perpetual wars, failing infrastructure and bad schools," the scholar suggested.
It is unclear, Landis said, whether the objective of more US military action in Syria is for regime change, to improve US negotiating power to enforce the ceasefire or to partition Syria between Kurds, Sunni Arab rebels, and Syrian President Bashar Assad.
"If the United States and Russia were able to agree on a soft partition of the country [Syria] between the three large groups, that could bring the war to an end soonest," Landis claimed. "But the US would have to guarantee that the Sunni rebel part were not going to be ruled by extremists or jihadists."
Authors of highly-acclaimed books on US foreign policy Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald told Sputnik that the memorandum sounded like something crafted by a military junta, not diplomats, and that it obviously was designed to lay the groundwork for a Clinton presidency.
"What do we [the United States] really need a State Department for anyway when it should be renamed the Department of War?" Gould and Fitzgerald posited rhetorically.
Kirby told reporters in a briefing on Friday that the Obama administration was still committed to pursuing a political solution in Syria despite the memorandum, which came through the department's "dissident channel."
Russia recognizes Assad as the legitimate authority in Syria, and has repeatedly stated the Syrian people should be free to choose their leadership without outside intervention. The United States and some of its allies have been supporting elements of the opposition, including Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qaeda, and have urged Assad to resign.