Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Responding to a question on the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo during the St. Louis, Missouri debate, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said the U.S. "needs to work more closely" with so-called moderate rebels, a move that experts have said will only prolong the current state of war. (Photo: Rick Wilking/Getty Images)

Responding to a question on the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo during the St. Louis, Missouri debate, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said the U.S. "needs to work more closely" with so-called moderate rebels, a move that experts have said will only prolong the current state of war. (Photo: Rick Wilking/Getty Images)

On Syria Policy, Critics Warn, Both Trump and Clinton Get It Very Wrong

Clinton said she would not resort to American ground forces in Aleppo, but military experts say that's exactly what her "no fly zone" requires

Lauren McCauley

Amid the tawdry spectacle of the second presidential debate on Sunday, the brief discussion on the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo highlighted for many observers the fact that the future of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East appears to be a choice between incoherent nuclear posturing and "more bipartisan warmongering."

Debate moderator Martha Raddatz posed a question submitted by a voter: "If you were president what would you do about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo? Isn't it much like the holocaust, when the U.S. waited too long before we helped?"

Describing the situation in Syria as "catastrophic," Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton reiterated her previous call for a "no-fly zone" and "safe zones" in Syria to be used as "leverage" during negotiations against Russia.

"There is a determined effort by Russian air force to destroy Aleppo in order to eliminate the last of Syrian rebels holding out against the Assad regime," she said. "We need to work more closely with partners and allies on the ground," she added, referring to the so-called "moderate rebels" being armed by the United States—a move that experts said has only prolonged the current state of war.

Following up, Raddatz asked the former secretary of state if she would "introduce the threat of U.S. military force beyond the no-fly zone to back up diplomacy."

Clinton responded, "I would not use American ground forces in Syria. I think that would be a very serious mistake." But military experts, including top U.S. General Joseph Dunford and Secretary of State John Kerry, have said that imposing a no-fly zone over Syria "would require us to go to war against Syria and Russia," a fact that many highlighted on social media after Sunday night's exchange:

Clinton also said she would support "the effort to investigate for war crimes committed by Syrians and Russians and hold them accountable," referring to recent calls made by the U.S. and other western powers.

Alternately, her opponent, Donald Trump, failed to clearly articulate his plan, but seemed to throw his support behind the current bombing by Russian and Syrian forces, saying he believed we have to "get" the Islamic State (or ISIS) "before we get too much more involved."

"I don't like Assad at all, but Assad is killing ISIS, Russia is killing ISIS, Iran is killing ISIS," he said.

When Raddatz pointed out that Trump's running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, last week also advocated for a "no-fly zone," Trump responded, "He and I haven't spoken and we don't agree." The split caused many to speculate on the validity of the Republican plan, and ticket. 

Trump also used his response to advocate for a stronger U.S. nuclear weapons program.

He said that our nuclear weapons have "fallen behind" in comparison to Russia, which he said had "gone wild with their nuclear program."

"Russia is new in terms of nuclear. We are old, we are tired, we are exhausted in terms of nuclear, a very bad thing," the Republican nominee said.

Responding to the exchange on The Intercept's live blog of the debate, journalist Jeremy Scahill wrote, "The cartoonish villainy of Donald Trump is a major factor in distracting attention from the hawkish, neoliberal policies of Hillary Clinton."

"There is rarely a focus on Clinton's embrace of regime change, her role in creating the conditions, as Secretary of State, for the horror show currently unfolding in Yemen, or her paramilitarization of the State Department," he continued.

Scahill concluded that "both Clinton and Trump's candidacies' have fucked us—albeit in different ways." Whereas Trump has "empowered fascists, racists, and bigots," Clinton "represents more of the same bipartisan warmongering. And, under Obama, that has been met with a lot of silence and complicity from liberals. Depressing."

Watch the discussion on Syria below:

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

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

'Yeah, And?': Ocasio-Cortez Embraces GOP Freakout Over Helping Women Skirt Abortion Bans

"Republicans are mad because I am sharing this information," said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. "Too bad!"

Julia Conley ·

WATCH LIVE: Top Meadows Aide Cassidy Hutchinson Testifies at Surprise Jan. 6 Hearing

Hutchinson, who has spent more than 20 hours in deposition with the House panel, is expected to provide more damning evidence of the role that Meadows played in Trump's coup attempt.

Kenny Stancil ·

Oxfam Condemns G7 for Leaving 'Millions to Starve' as Global Hunger Surges

"Faced with the worst hunger crisis in a generation, the G7 have simply failed to take the action that is needed," said Max Lawson of Oxfam International.

Jake Johnson ·

'Horrific': 50 Migrants Found Dead in Abandoned Trailer Truck in Texas

"We need to end Title 42 and fix our broken immigration system so these unimaginable tragedies stop happening," said Rep. Chuy García. "People fleeing violence and poverty deserve a chance at a better life."

Jake Johnson ·

Harris Says White House Not 'Discussing' Use of Federal Land for Abortion Care

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are among the Democratic lawmakers who have expressed support for the idea as GOP-controlled states move to outlaw abortion.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo