Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

This #GivingTuesday, whatever is your first priority, your second priority has to be independent media.

2021 has been one of the most dangerous and difficult years for independent journalism that we’ve ever seen. Our democracy is facing serial existential threats including the climate emergency, vaccine apartheid amid deadly pandemic, a global crisis for biodiversity, reproductive freedoms under assault, rising authoritarianism worldwide, and corporate-funded corruption of democracy that run beneath all of this. Giving Tuesday is a critical opportunity to make sure our journalism remains funded so that we can stay focused on all your priority issues. Please contribute today to keep Common Dreams alive and growing.

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, brief reporters at the Pentagon, Aug. 21, 2014.(Photo: DOD / U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp)

US Top Brass: Striking Syria Back on the Table

Defense Secretary Hagel and Gen. Dempsey indicate willingness to expand US war to Syria

Jon Queally

At a press briefing at the Pentagon on Thursday, Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said his determination is that the only way to adequately defeat the ISIS militants in Iraq is by expanding military operations—including possible U.S. airstrikes—into neighboring Syria.

“Can [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] be defeated without addressing that part of the organization that resides in Syria?" Dempsey said to reporters. "The answer is no.”

Dempsey was joined at the briefing by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel who characterized the new military engagement in Iraq as an effort that was growing, not coming to an end. "We are pursuing a long-term strategy against [ISIS] because [ISIS] clearly poses a long-term threat," Hagel said. "The U.S. military's involvement is not over. President Obama has been very clear on this point."

Asked about the Obama adminstrations position on striking targets in Syria, Hagel responded: "We're looking at all options."

Despite the condemnation of the expanding bombing campaign now underway in Iraq, the idea of further escalation—including more boots on the ground or U.S. airstrikes inside Syria—raises deeper concerns over mission creep in the region as the U.S. leadership seems poised to elevate its activity on both sides of the Iraq/Syria border which Dempsey said is "at this point a nonexistent." The idea that the U.S. military would now expand bombing into Syria fulfills the fears of those who warned that once troops were introduced and strikes authorized in Iraq, the war footprint would predictably spread.

As many observers have pointed out, the irony of Obama's foreign policy regarding ISIS in the region is while the Syrian Army of Assad has been waging the most sustained battle against the Sunni militants in recent years, the U.S. remains committed to to Assad's ouster and has even lined up military support for opposition factions aligned against him. Asked about this dynamic during Thursday's press conference, both Hagel and Dempsey reiterated that they see Assas "as part of the problem" even as they skirted the complexity and possible hypocrisy of the U.S. position regarding the ongoing and bloody Syrian civil war. From the transcript:

Q: Talking about ISIL in Syria, my question is for -- both of you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Secretary -- do you -- do you have any information that there is a link, a relation between the Assad regime and ISIL? As you may know, the Assad regime has been striking ISIL for the last few months. Do you see yourself on the same page with the -- with the Assad regime? And do you still believe that Assad is part of the problem or he might become part of the broader solution in the region?

SEC. HAGEL: Well, Assad is very much a central part of the problem. And I think it's well documented as to why. When you have the brutal dictatorship of Assad and what he has done to his own country, which perpetuated much of what is happening or has been happening in Syria, so he's part of the problem, and as much a part of it as probably the central core of it.

As to your question regarding ISIL and Assad, yes, they are fighting each other, as well as other terrorist groups, very sophisticated terrorist groups in -- in Syria.

GEN. DEMPSEY: He is absolutely part of the problem.

SEC. HAGEL: Kevin?

Asked about the threat of mission creep, Hagel responded: "The president has been very clear on mission creep. And he's made it very clear that he will not allow that."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Omar Hangs Up After Boebert Uses Call to Double Down on 'Outright Bigotry and Hate'

"Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Rep. Boebert refused to publicly acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments."

Jessica Corbett ·

Win for Alabama Workers as NLRB Orders New Union Vote After Amazon's Alleged Misconduct

A union leader said the decision confirmed that "Amazon's intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace."

Jessica Corbett ·

'For the Sake of Peace,' Anti-War Groups Demand Biden Return to Nuclear Deal With Iran

"It's time to put differences aside and return to the Iran nuclear deal," said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·

'That's for Them to Decide': UK Secretary Rebuked for Claiming Vaccine Patent Waiver Won't Be 'Helpful' to Global Poor

One U.K. lawmaker asked when the government would "start putting the need to end this pandemic in front of the financial interests of Big Pharma?"

Andrea Germanos ·

Shell Slammed for Plan to Blast South African Coastline for Oil and Gas During Whale Season

"We cannot allow climate criminals, like Shell, to plunder in the name of greed," said Greenpeace.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo