Rich Williamson, a top Romney foreign policy advisor, told The Cable in an interview on Tuesday August 28th at the Republic National Convention that Mitt Romney was not prepared to support the growing call for a no-fly zone in Syria.
The Syrian uprising against Bashar al-Assad's regime has taken an increasingly bloody turn in recent weeks with over 400 bodies discovered after Syrian troops swept through Daraya Saturday August 25th and record numbers of refugees fleeing the violence. The death toll for August alone is estimated to have surpassed 4,000.
Assad's regime has claimed an edge in the conflict as elite paramilitary units of the Syrian Armed Forces continue an aggressive campaign against the Free Syria Army. International pressure has mounted for the establishment of a no-fly zone within Syria, which would prevent the Syrian government from launching airstrikes against its citizens. The no-fly zone would require an international military effort for enforcement and would signal foreign military intervention in Syria's civil war.
Romney supporters such as Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman have publicly called for the no-fly zone as a necessary step in preventing the further escalation of the conflict. Hillary Clinton has suggested a limited no-fly zone, which would protect pocketed areas of Syria and prevent a regional backlash from Assad's supporters in neighboring countries. Romney, according to Rich Williamson, has yet to publicly agree.
However, in the same interview , Williamson criticized the Obama administration for "leading from behind" with their direct support to Syrian rebel forces and their hesitation in using US military assets inside Syria. Williamson goes so far as to say that Romney, who has yet to follow the lead of his supporters such as war hero John McCain by publicly calling for a no-fly zone, would not have "wasted time placating Russia at the National Security Council".
According to Williamson, "if we had taken Romney's advice on working with the opposition to help organize them and the moderates and help arm the opposition, we wouldn't be in the crisis we are now." Williamson then went on to say that, "we appreciate the fact that only 13 months after Governor Romney [suggested working with the opposition], President Obama took his advice."
The Obama re-election campaign is under constant attack for its politicization of the Navy SEAL Team Six operation the resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. Ryan Zinke, a former Navy SEAL Team Six commander, cited leaks to the press about Operation Geronimo to support Obama's reelection as the primary reason behind his establishment of the Special Operations for America Super PAC, which is working to oust Obama from office.
Violating the confidentiality of elite American units that conduct operations such as the one that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden for political gain is a cause for concern. However, the politicization of Operation Geronimo does not change the fact that the operation occurred.
Mitt Romney's campaign has not only claimed credit for the behind-the-scenes accomplishments of the Obama administration's military and diplomatic strategy towards Syria. His campaign has gone so far as to claim that the conflict would not have escalated to its current bloody state if the Obama administration had only followed Mitt Romney's advice. However, his campaign has also stated that Romney is not ready to publicly assert that there is a need for a no-fly zone in Syria.
Ryan Zinke should closely examine Mitt Romney's politicization of the Syrian conflict before helping to elect him Commander-in-Chief. If Zinke thought Barack Obama was bad, the statements of Romney's campaign about an active civil war that is claiming the lives of thousands of civilians indicate that Mitt might be a whole lot worse.