Hell, he straight up said what it’s about!
Second: Assad must go.
Tillerson’s admission that this is a sine qua non for any US military departure from Syria confirms that the Trump foreign policy is no different from that of Hillary Clinton or her former boss, President Obama. Recall that as part of his “thank you” tour, President-elect Trump reiterated promises made by candidate Trump to break with the past:
We will pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past. We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments. …In our dealings with other countries we will seek shared interests wherever possible…”
It is clear that he lied, as it is reported that he signed off on this new Syria strategy last month at a meeting of his National Security Council.
Secretary Tillerson said today that new elections should be held in Syria and that President Assad should lose:
The United States believes that free and transparent elections … will result in the permanent departure of Assad and his family from power… Assad’s regime is corrupt, and his methods of governance and economic development have increasingly excluded certain ethnic and religious groups… Such oppression cannot persist forever.
Tillerson’s speech reveals that the old myth about the Syrian people “rising up” to overthrow Assad is still very much viewed as Gospel truth in Washington:
…our expectation is that the desire for a return to normal life … will help rally the Syrian people and individuals within the regime to compel Assad to step down.
Translation: we are going to continue to make life miserable for you until you overthrow Assad. Then it will return to “normal.” Presumably the people of Syria understand what “normal” life after a US “liberation” looks like from examples like Libya, Iraq, and Ukraine.
Tillerson also made the bizarre assertion that US troops will remain in Syria to prevent the Syrian government from re-establishing control over the parts of Syria abandoned by a defeated ISIS. So the legitimate government of Syria will be prevented by an illegal United States military occupation from reclaiming its own territory? This is supposed to be a coherent policy?