Tags: Syria | Michael Hayden | Syrian | Cease-Fire | Strategic Loss

Gen. Hayden: Syrian Cease-Fire a 'Strategic Loss' to Stop the Killing

(MSNBC/"Morning Joe")

By    |   Tuesday, 13 September 2016 08:33 AM

The United States is being "noble and feckless at the same time" with the Syrian cease-fire agreement with Russia, and could mark a "strategic loss in order for an attempt to stop the killing," retired Gen. Michael Hayden said Tuesday.

"I am not very optimistic," the former CIA and National Security Agency director told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "You saw Secretary [John] Kerry's emotion about the killing, and in order to stop the killing, we're leaning on our allies to do things they don't want to do and we are holding our nose and closing our eyes and partnering with the Russians."

Meanwhile, answering a question about whether GOP nominee Donald Trump's praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin may have had an effect on the cease-fire, Hayden said there are more factors in play than that.

There have been "some things" that have made Russia feel more confident to go forward, and "it clouds the American political discourse," said Hayden, but he thinks Russia's confidence is "more basic than that."

"We have not pushed back strongly against the Russians in Ukraine, Crimea and Syria, and we have sanctions that the administration can lay out, a whole list of things they can do, but for the life of me, I do not know why we have not given defensive arms to the Ukrainians," said Hayden.

In addition, Hayden said, the deal means taking the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and "pushing it off the planning cycle for the foreseeable future . . . it's a complicated deal. So many moving parts and it's hard to explain in a coherent way, and I am sadly not optimistic."

Russia's goals are different in Syria than those of the United States, he continued, as the Kremlin is there to "prop up their lone friend in the Arab world, Bashar al-Assad, and the resistance of that regime feeds the extremism we are trying to defeat."

To put a lid on the violence, though, the United States has agreed to set up a joint intelligence cell, and Hayden said he is "glad I am not in government and have not been given that responsibility."

"What are you willing to share in the way of intelligence with the Russians?" he continued. "What American military officer is willing to put a bomb on any point on planet Earth based upon Russian intelligence?"

Meanwhile, Kerry is "out there in no-man's land" when it comes to the cease-fire, said Hayden.

"He's got overall objectives . . . and Assad must go, and our government has not given him any tools adequate to effect the change," said Hayden.

"My metric for success is probably the reduction in violence, and here's the punch line: can we pressure the Russians and Syrians to allow the free movement of goods and services to isolated areas now?" he continued.

"Are the sieges of Aleppo and other cities, are they going to stop, and are we going to be allowed to improve the quality of life of folks there? Frankly, right now, Assad wants to expand his area of control and his tool for doing that is frankly putting pressure on the civilian population."

Further, said Hayden, Kerry has said the cease-fire could be the last chance to preserve a unified Syria, but he doesn't agree.

"I think that train has left the station a [long] time ago, and I think a unified Syria is part of history," said Hayden.

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The United States is being "noble and feckless at the same time" with the Syrian cease-fire agreement with Russia, and could mark a "strategic loss in order for an attempt to stop the killing..."
Michael Hayden, Syrian, Cease-Fire, Strategic Loss
Tuesday, 13 September 2016 08:33 AM
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