Dozens of State Department employees have endorsed an internal document that advocates US military action to pressure Syria's government into accepting a cease-fire and engaging in peace talks, officials say. The position is at odds with US policy. The "dissent channel cable" was signed by 51 mostly mid-level department officials who deal with US policy in Syria, officials who have seen the document tell the AP. It expresses clear frustration with America's inability to halt a civil war that has killed perhaps a half-million people and contributed to a worldwide refugee crisis, and goes to the heart of President Obama's reluctance to enter the fray. The New York Times notes that the number of signatures on the dissent "is extremely large, if not unprecedented."
"The moral rationale for taking steps to end the deaths and suffering in Syria, after five years of brutal war, is evident and unquestionable," the Times quotes the document as saying. "The status quo in Syria will continue to present increasingly dire, if not disastrous, humanitarian, diplomatic and terrorism-related challenges." It also calls for "judicious use of stand-off and air weapons" to advance the US diplomatic effort led by John Kerry. The secretary of state has hinted that more robust US intervention is a distinct possibility. In Norway this week, he told a conflict resolution conference that American patience with Assad and Russia was running out and suggested a greater American role might be inevitable unless things changed. (Rebels backed by different arms of the US government clashed near Aleppo earlier this year.)