I'm going to continue to push for a no-fly zone and safe havens within Syria," Hillary Clinton repeated again in the third presidential debate. "Not only to help protect the Syrians and prevent the constant outflow of refugees, but to, frankly, gain some leverage on both the Syrian government and the Russians so that perhaps we can have the kind of serious negotiation necessary to bring the conflict to an end and go forward on a political track."
Clinton has pushed a no-fly zone and safe havens in Syria since the early days of her campaign in the Democratic primaries. But over the last month her remarks have revealed why these measures have little chance of ending the slaughter in Syria, whether in Aleppo or elsewhere in the hideously ravaged country.
"The situation in Syria is catastrophic," she said in the second debate. "Every day that goes by, we see the results of the regime, by Assad in partnership with the Iranians on the ground and the Russians in the air, bombarding places, in particular Aleppo, where there are hundreds of thousands of people, probably about 250,000 people still left. And there is a determined effort by the Russian Air Force to destroy Aleppo in order to eliminate the last of the Syrian rebels who are really holding out against the Assad regime."
Clinton was telling part of the truth, and masking the rest. Crushing Aleppo as it earlier crushed the Chechen rebels in Grozny, Russia and its Syrian allies were refusing to pull their punches just because the rebels were using a quarter of a million civilians in east Aleppo as human shields. But Clinton never mentioned that American and coalition air forces similarly killed thousands of human shields in conquering Fallujah and will likely kill many thousands more in their current attempt to capture Mosul.
The Saudis have been doing the same in Yemen, enabled by weapons, refueling, intelligence, and increasingly direct participation from Britain and the United States. Horrific in the extreme, the medieval-like siege of Aleppo follows the modern logic of asymmetric warfare -- the rich and powerful have air forces while the rebels generally do not, though they are beginning to use drones.
Like most mainstream American pols and pundits, Clinton also failed to mention that the rebels -- armed and supported by the US, Qatar, and the Saudis -- have fired back, killed civilians, cut off the water supply, and done extensive damage to west Aleppo, which Assad's forces now hold. Nor did she admit that as many as 900 of the rebels "holding out" in east Aleppo were militants of the former Jabhat al-Nusra, which ostensibly separated from al-Qaeda in July and rebranded itself as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham.
Nor did she explain why Washington's Saudi and Qatari allies had also funded the Islamic State (ISIS), or how her making the fight against Assad a priority over fighting ISIS ensured that the slaughter would go on and on, as the Sunni kingdoms of the Gulf continue to pursue their Washington-backed campaign to force regime change in Syria.
Wrapping herself in the holy cloth of humanitarianism, Clinton has also kept a tight lip about one of the more telling aspects of the campaign. The White Helmets, who were loudly touted for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, turn out to have a highly suspect relationship with the jihadis, as the tireless Max Blumenthal recently documented. The White Helmets also played a central role in providing the heart-rending photograph of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh and eyewitness testimony and other purported evidence that the Russians and/or Syrians bombed the UN's humanitarian aid convoy.
As most Western media have conveniently failed to report, a "former" British intelligence officer, James Le Mesurier, created and still runs the White Helmets operation, and most of the funding comes from USAID, the British Foreign Office, and a host of Western nations. Welcome to the world of humanitarian aid.
Clinton continues to play down the Saudi, Qatari, and covert parts of her plans for Syria. What she plays up is her focus on Vladimir Putin and the Russians. She does this to discredit Donald Trump as a Putin puppet, shamefully echoing America's long history of red-baiting. But even more disturbing, she is building public support for either a new Cold War with Russia, or a very hot one.
In the third and final debate, host Chris Wallace asked Clinton about her plans to impose a no-fly zone in Syria. "President Obama has refused to do that because he fears it's going to draw us closer or deeper into the conflict," Wallace reminded her. "And General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says you impose a no-fly zone, chances are you're going to get into a war -- his words -- with Syria and Russia."
"If you impose a no-fly zone and a Russian plane violates that," asked Wallace, "does President Clinton shoot that plane down?"
This was one of the most consequential questions of the debate, and Clinton ducked it completely, sounding more like Trump and his hopes of doing a deal with Putin. "I think we could strike a deal and make it very clear to the Russians and the Syrians that this was something that we believe was in the best interests of the people on the ground in Syria, it would help us with our fight against ISIS," she said.
Is Clinton suddenly pulling back from the war-like ways that our country's foreign policy elite and some of our military mavens, like Gen. David Petraeus, now favor? Or, as seems far more likely, is she simply side-stepping any discussion of a likely military conflict with a nuclear-armed Russia? Either way, the American people need to know, as do the Syrians.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.