Home | About | Donate

US Military Leadership Resisted Obama's Bid for Regime Change in Syria, Libya


US Military Leadership Resisted Obama's Bid for Regime Change in Syria, Libya

Gareth Porter

Seymour Hersh’s recent revelations about an effort by the US military leadership in 2013 to bolster the Syrian army against jihadist forces in Syria shed important new light on the internal bureaucratic politics surrounding regime change in US Middle East policy. Hersh’s account makes it clear that the Obama administration’s policy of regime change in both Libya and Syria provoked pushback from the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).


This article was disconcerting. It was almost like a parent reassuring a frightened child that there couldn't be any monsters under the bed because monsters are way too big to fit under there and that most likely they would probably hide in the closet.

Um? Mommy can I have a glass of water?

Our Joint Chiefs of Staff did what? The administration wasn't told what by whom? The JCS decided to do what? We did this? We didn't? We did? ... well some of us did... well some of us didn't ... and ...??????????????

One thing is clear is that nothing is clear. Do any of them know what they are doing? Do they even know what each other is doing? It apparently is very useful to certain people that we have a gigantic military that is so humongous that sheer wealth and surplus covers up a constant litany of errors year by year. We overcome by our excess. Like the 1950's movie The Blob... it just flows over everything and overwhelms by its sheer bulk ... not finesse or skill... but by surplus and quantity.

Our seemingly unified (if reactionary and rightwing conservative neocon) government doesn't look like it is so unified after reading this piece. Geez who is a liberal to blame here? The administration? The JCS? The state department?

One thing is actually clear though kiddies. Never trust your parents about monsters! They are both under the bed and hiding in the closet ...just as you always suspected they were!!!


The frightening part of the story isn't even mentioned, General Officers deciding policy. This is a MacArthur moment, and no one cares.


Brzezinski's The Grand Chessboard (1997) remains the playbook. Perhaps if everyone would read it, no one would be surprised at what is unfolding in the Middle East. (Go back to the writings of Oded Yinon to learn more.)


What is really clear is that Obama is a reckless fool and the sooner he exits the WH, the better. Unfortunately, if Clinton takes his place, we will be worse off than before. Presidents like these make one cheer for the Pentagon -- hopefully it will stop Hillary's most egregious excesses.


well, in this case, the president's policy is so reckless and absurd, that the JCS probably did the right thing.


That makes no difference, civilian authorities are in charge in this country. Period.


I suppose if you base all your values on the dollar, your argument would hold water. But only fools do that.


No one is "in charge" of the country -- it's all just a power game, and the JCS didn't break any laws. They just outsmarted Obama.


I can't believe anyone would take such a position. God help us. The military is always and ever subordinate to the people's representatives, be they the Congress, or the President, and the President is the Commander in Chief and they have no right to act on their own. They have no right "out smarting" the president. The president should fire their asses forthwith, as Truman fired MacArthur. They exist at the pleasure of we the people. Your attitude is frightening.


Does anyone else see a problem with the Pentagon defying civilian authority, regardless of whether they were "right" to do so?

I'm not speaking to the concept of refusing to comply with administration policy due to an overriding fealty to the Constitution. This was a covert act to thwart an admittedly dangerous strategy, rather than a principled objection to it.

That the military ultimately chose to protect its own imperial hand in the game makes plain that principle has precious little to do with the whole affair.


And, in this country, the president is always and ever subordinate to the banks and corporations. So, it's a no-win situation. Obama's policy of regime change is not a foreign policy -- it's a crime. In this situation, the JCS knew that assassinating Assad would create a vacuum that would only be filled by one of the extremist groups. That would have put the world in danger. The JCS did very little, as it turned out, to counter Obama's reckless and foolish moves.


I am not going to get in a cat fight about a fundamental of all democratic government, the military is always subordinate to the elected representatives, Period, there is no other acceptable alternative. The banks have nothing to do with it. What will your general friends decide next, maybe a coup, no, I will never agree with you and your friends here. I am against the furtherance of militarism in this country. In all my decades on this planet I have never had to argue the proposition that the Military Must Be Subordinate, talk about disillusioning. Phew!


The JCS is itself the product of a business focused enterprise that has ignored military science for personal gain.

No one familiar with military history, especially the Soviet incursion into Afghanistan in the 1980s, would agree to invade the 'Graveyard of Empires.' Especially not with a logistics system operated by private contractors. And the mark of 'Crusader' making it a religious war.

The military indulgence of religion has been endlessly corrosive, especially since white Christians have been attempting to subdue Islam and 'reclaim' the 'Holy Land' for roughly 1000 years. Hello?

I took early retirement from the Air Force as a Major in 94. I served with these guys. They were corporate lackeys fretting over TQM and 'warrior' outfits. Our CSAF was prancing around the Pentagon in a flight suit, because 'if you dress like a warrior, you think like a warrior.' Only fighter pilots were considered for command. Because they were 'warriors.' They were also clueless, because their exalted status kept them from the mundane tasks of actually making things function. Not the senior staff you want to go to war with.

The religious mass conversion of US Armed Forces as soldiers for Jesus was not a strategy for success, though it played well in Christian Congress. Not especially good for morale and discipline, especially if your CO has yearnings for martyrdom. Lt. Dan....

These guys will make great CEOs. But after 15 years, and nothing to show for it, it's time to cut our losses and come home.


General Wesley Clark said several years ago that he was told that the Bush administration had plans to "regime change" seven mid-East countries, including Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria. And we know that the CIA was in Syria for years trying to stir up opposition to Assad and their efforts finally allowed Obama to declare "Assad must go!"

It looks like the Military is the armed wing of the CIA and the Executive is the mouthpiece for the CIA spewing propaganda to enlist public support. And when I think of the innocent lives affected by all this plotting, especially the children who have to endure this horror, I can think of nothing more evil.

And this is the greatest country in the world? Why are the front page headlines not shrieking this information? Why is it not the cover story of Time and Newsweek? Only marginalized publications get away with printing the truth.


It's also clear that the Slick Oily administration is not being guided in it's military preparations by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. So who is doing the planning?