DNC hack rattles U.S. effort to rein in Russia on Syria

Politico reports: Allegations that Russia is trying to hack the U.S. presidential election are giving ammunition to critics of President Barack Obama’s struggling effort to bring peace to Syria — a case of bruising campaign politics rattling delicate foreign policy.

In recent weeks, Secretary of State John Kerry has been pushing a proposal that reportedly allows for U.S. intelligence and military cooperation with Russia on airstrikes that target terrorist groups in Syria, such as the Al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra or the Islamic State. The Russians, in return, would be expected to sideline Syrian President Bashar Assad’s air units, which have been blamed for numerous attacks on civilians in the Arab state.

The overall goal is to reduce the killing of civilians and somehow pave a path for a peace settlement in Syria, where hundreds of thousands of people have died since March 2011, a major stain on Obama’s foreign policy legacy.

But the U.S. plan has already drawn criticism inside and outside government ranks. Some naysayers argue it is a slippery slope of a sellout to Russia. Others say that while working with Russia is not a bad idea, America’s unwillingness to use military force against Assad has left the U.S. with little leverage.

Now, claims that Russian-linked hackers were behind the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails give skeptics a new reason to urge caution. The hacking is all the more sensational because it appears to aid Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has spoken kindly of Russian President Vladimir Putin and whom the Kremlin’s media apparatus clearly favors in the race against Democrat Hillary Clinton. [Continue reading…]

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