‘Washington’s regime change habit leaves no room for objectivity on Syria’
RT: Barack Obama believes Russian air strikes are strengthening ISIL, would you agree?
Karen Kwiatkowski: No, I don’t see how that can possibly be the case. The only thing I can think of is that Obama is judging from our own past experience with our own military actions, which truly have created ISIS. Some years ago activities in Iraq and Afghanistan produced this radical Sunni group which is now in Syria.
So our strikes did create ISIS and did help them. And we have provided arms to them, both directly and inadvertently. So he might be judging [from our own] experience, but I certainly don’t see how what Russia has done in the past week is strengthening ISIS or ISIL at all.
RT:The US-led campaign [has] yielded little progress so far, yet the US president was very critical of the Russian campaign, which started just this week... Do you think Washington’s criticism is fair? I wonder where it comes from?
KK: I think they are surprised. I don't think they expected it. I think that is part of it. So they did not have a story prepared. I also think that you can see very much that the administration, and the one before it with George Bush, Bush-43, both of them were obsessed with this long-term plan of regime change. And we've seen that in Afghanistan, Iraq, in Libya of course, and now Syria.
So our habit is kind of – you know when you get into a habit you can’t think outside that box – and I think that is part of the problem that the administration has. Because we have clearly – we in a sense of administration – identified Assad as a person who must be removed at all costs. So they can’t really be objective about anything else that happens. And also, I really don’t think the administration really understands its own impact in actually promoting the refugees crisis, for example, of Syrian refugees; of promoting insecurity, death and destruction in the region. I think that Washington can’t see that. Obama does not see that.
RT:Why don’t they see that?
KK: Well, if he admits it, he has to reject his entire foreign policy for the last six or seven years, and also the neo-conservative foreign policy of his predecessor. Those policies were based on regime change, they were based on picking a rebel group that you did not know very much about, that you thought you could control and manipulate – even though of course you can’t – and giving that person or that group arms and kind of playing the game, kind of throwing the dice: ‘See if we can get rid of this guy.’ That is not a foreign policy that makes any sense. It is not one that will lead to any type of long term success, which of course we have seen in Libya, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Egypt.
So I think he is blind to the impact of what they have been doing. And I think he is blind and he does not see it because they have so much invested in it. It would be a repudiation everything Obama has done in the foreign policy up to this point for him to admit that what we have been doing hasn't been working and what the Russians are doing, at least this week, may indeed be working.
RT:Obama also stressed Syria is not a proxy war between Washington and Moscow. How big is the threat the Syrian war will eventually become a proxy war between Russia and the US?
KK: He is right that it would be a bad strategy on our part. We certainly should be cooperating with what they have been doing, and helping at least, because if we really want the refugee flow to stop, if we want a certain level of stability, we need to work with the Russians. I think he is right about that it would be a mistake.
But I really think he is missing the other elephant in the room, which is the policy in Ukraine, the NATO expansionist policies in eastern Europe. These are the real dangers. I don’t see Syria and what Mr. Putin is doing in Syria, I don’t see that as a big problem. I think Ukraine and some of the other activities that we are pushing on NATO, driving NATO to do vis a vis the Russian border, this to me is far more dangerous. But I’m glad he said what he said in this regard.
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