- The Washington Times - Monday, June 20, 2016

Secretary of State John F. Kerry says he’s preparing to meet with the 51 American diplomats who signed an internal State Department cable slamming the Obama administration’s Syria policy and calling for U.S. military strikes against forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Mr. Kerry, who’s mainly been silent on the cable since it was leaked to a reporter and made headlines last week, said Monday morning that he’s read the document and felt that it “was very good.”

“I’m going to meet with them,” Mr. Kerry said of the diplomats — mostly midlevel career State Department officials — who pushed the cable through the department’s so-called “dissent channel,” an established, albeit secretive, medium for Foreign Service officers to challenge existing U.S. policy.

The cable, first reported Thursday by The New York Times, urges the U.S. to carry out “targeted” strikes against the Assad government to stop its persistent violations of a cease-fire negotiated by Washington and Moscow, and warns that American policy has been “overwhelmed” by years of unrelenting violence in Syria.

The document’s emergence marked the latest in a pattern of frustration from current and former U.S. officials since 2013, when Mr. Obama asserted that the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime would represent a “red line” that could trigger U.S. military retaliation.

The president later appeared to back off the threat in a favor of pursuing a peaceful political transition away from Mr. Assad in Syria. Some argue that such an approach indicates Washington is working tacitly with the Assad regime to battle the Islamic State group and other extremists in the war zone.

Mr. Kerry and his predecessor under Mr. Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have long been said to be frustrated by the president’s reluctance to authorize force in the Syrian conflict.

Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford has also been critical, publicly lamenting that the administration had “consistently been behind the curve” in crafting a coherent and effective policy in response to the multi-front war that has spawned millions of refugees.

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