by Jason Ditz
Speaking at a news conference today in Turkey, Vice President Joe Biden sought to downplay the remote chances of any sort of political settlement coming out of this week’s planned Geneva peace talks, saying the US and Turkey are fully prepared to bypass the process and impose a “military solution” on Syria.
“We do know it would be better if we can reach a political solution,” Biden told the conference, insisting that absent that the US military was still fully capable of “solving” the situation.
US officials later sought to clarify that Biden only meant to say that the US could wipe out ISIS, and not that they were planning to impose a new government on Syria as a whole absent a deal from the international community.
Even that seems like an uphill battle, particularly if it’s to be the US and Turkey working together on the war, as the primary force on the ground fighting ISIS is the Kurdish YPG, and Turkish officials have attacked them multiple times in recent weeks, and warned the US against backing them against ISIS in certain key cities.
Biden made an effort to downplay the differences between the US and Turkey on Syria, even equating ISIS to the Kurdish PKK rebels. This echoes what President Erdogan has said, but in his comments he included the YPG, a close US ally, as equal to both ISIS and the PKK.
While the Obama Administration has repeatedly insisted they intend to “wipe out” ISIS, there is no suggestion that this is anything but a hugely long-term ambition, and Biden’s comments suggest that leaving the war open-ended is something the US is perfectly comfortable with.