18:30 GMT16 June 2021
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    Neoconservatives in the US State Department leaked a diplomatic memorandum urging military action in Syria in an attempt to manipulate the next president’s foreign policy agenda, former White House National Security Council advisor Gwenyth Todd told Sputnik.

    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. 

    ​"Such an ‘open letter’ is a typical maneuver by neoconservatives to manipulate the agenda of the next US President, be it Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump," Todd told Sputnik on Friday.

    ​US Secretary of State John Kerry, Todd noted, is a real frustration for many lower-level State Department officials, as well as for neoconservatives everywhere, who are intent on removing Syrian President Bashar Assad because Kerry is not going to undermine President Barack Obama’s strategy.

    "We are unlikely to see Obama being swayed by the ‘invade Syria’ crowd," Todd explained. "Obama will ignore the letter, understanding exactly what it is."

    Although Clinton is a highly intelligent and caring person, Todd claimed, she is likely to be easily convinced by her advisers to launch a military intervention against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    "If the next US President surrounds himself or herself with familiar faces from the period before Obama's 2012 putsch of neoconservative, anti-Iran, anti-Assad advisers, this ‘open letter’ from State Department officials could well become very relevant," Todd warned.

    It became evident under George W. Bush that intelligent and pragmatic US military leaders are unable to stand up to the neoconservative agenda, she added.

    The State Department was very much in favor of using military might to remove Assad under Secretary Clinton, Todd said, while General David Petraeus as the Director of the CIA was "absolutely fixated on bombing Damascus."

    Clinton was the lesser of the two evils in this case, Todd added, because she was going to leave anyway, but Petraeus was not going to back down and is reported to have gone to great lengths to undermine Obama.

    "The whole affair-while-in-Afghanistan scandal was the only publicly tenable way for Obama to force the much-revered General Petraeus out of the CIA and silence him by holding over his head the threat of indictment for sharing classified information with his former girlfriend," Todd suggested.

    Trump, Todd observed, has been highly critical of using the US military in hopeless and catastrophic misadventures in the Middle East but what he might do is still a mystery.

    "As a businessman focused on profit, the disastrous economic implications of increased US military involvement in Syria suggests he [Trump] would not be swayed by neoconservative ideologues," Todd mused. "Still, post-Obama Washington remains a great unknown."

    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.


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