There was actually a plan to destabilise Syria and remove Assad going back as far as 2006. By 2009, Obama was in and having a stable Syria was considered part of the necessary regional diplomacy in allowing US to stabilise Iraq and for troops to start withdrawing from that country in the course of 2011
When Assad seemed he was going to 'go', as had Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, and as US troops were already pulling out of Iraq, it seemed too much of an opportunity to waste and one that would please both Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States in having a Sunni state to balance a Shia dominated Iraq and a democracy too.
Much of the British Labour Party's shift against military intervention in the Middle East is as much about 'detoxifying' it from the influence of Tony Blair as striking out on a genuinely new foreign policy. Corbyn's rise as Labour leader is an obvious symptom of the reaction against him . Yet Labour remains "internationalist".
This is supposed to indicate Britain's Labour Party has a history of international solidarity with the suffering and oppressed everywhere. The geopolitical realities of Britain's foreign policy, including the deep centrality of the strategic cooperation with Saudi Arabia and how that has a wider impact, is generally unmentionable.
True, Emily Thornberry has made token criticism of Britain's determination via BAE to supply weapons to the Saudi regime calling for a suspension of sales while it slaughters civilians in Yemen. However, Thornbury made no attack on Fallon's argument that Saudi Arabia was right to wage war on the Houthis in Yemen in 'defence'.
The obvious reason is that Thornberry only wants to raise the human rights issue as regards air raid on Yemen but not to actually criticise the alliance itself or the war in Yemen. It's all about branding Labour as having an "ethical foreign policy" as it was under Robin Cook before '"Blair's War" in Iraq in 2003.
Yet the only basis for Thornberry's criticism of Fallon over meeting Assad is precisely that he is hypocritical, that Assad should have been all the more of an enemy after 2011. Given that overthrowing Assad was a Saudi foreign policy ambition in its proxy war with Iran, it is curious Thornbury supports this but not its other war on Yemen.
In fact, Thornberry is simply playing her part in the Westminster choreography on foreign policy, pretending she is offering a real foreign policy criticism when she believes much the same thing as Fallon does. For it is not clear Thornbury would call for ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia given the jobs in Labour seats it provides.
Moreover, the chance to criticise Fallow for the national security argument for aligning behind Saudi foreign policy was not made. This is despite hard evidence Riyadh has supported Al Qaida affiliated jihadi militants against Assad and in Yemen against its enemies there as part of the proxy wars Britain backs.
Instead, it is much easier to pretend that Thornberry really supports an entirely different foreign policy, one that uses promoting democracy and human rights-"our values"-as a branding device to assert geopolitical, commercial and resource interests against regional and global competitors, interests that fixed ones.
Corbyn might well support a very different foreign policy in so far as he actually has one beyond 'give peace a chance'. But he's been put under wraps so that others can make a supposedly "credible" foreign policy "alternative" to the Tories. But it is the presentation, the "public diplomacy" spin that is the only difference.
Until the actual reality of Britain's foreign policy is discussed, articles such as this are footling and irrelevant, depending on the "narcissism of small differences". Ed Miliband, the previous leader, supported the Libyan disaster in 2011. Labour supported 'Assad must go' and only changed its line by 2013 temporarily.
One reason for Miliband's opposition to joining in with a US attack on Syria was the Iraq and Libya precedents and to take advantage of public opposition. Yet the rise of ISIS caused by Saudi Arabian and Gulf State support for jihadists remains a strictly off limits discussion for Labour because of the lucrative strategic cooperation.
Britain remains trapped in its absurd posture of being a Global Player long since the decline of Britain as a Great Power. As Brexit proceeds, Britain could become all the more a supine and subservient client state of the US and Saudi Arabia because of the BAE arms deals to the energy rich Gulf States as a War with Iran beckons.
Should President Trump shift the US towards a war with Iran to knock out a major Assad client and tilt the balance of power back away from Russia's favour in Syria and the Greater Middle East, Labour ought to be criticising the underlying basis for the unconditional alignment with the US and Saudi Arabia as dangerous.
The reason Labour would not do that is they are still positioning themselves as model willing pupils of the US once Corbyn is defeated, merely criticising the style Trump has and his bad public diplomacy rather than the actual commitment to supporting Gulf State ambitions and the way the proxy war has ramped up terrorist threats.