Monthly Archives: June 2013
When the official announcement came this weekend that the United States Military will provide weapons to aid the Syrian rebels, my reaction was exactly this: “are we sure we wanna do this?” and polls show most of the country agrees with me.
Look, I understand that we really have no choice: President Obama painted himself into a corner by saying that if the Assad regime used chemical weapons we would arm the rebels. President Obama has close to no credibility left internationally, and very little at home. He could not afford to make a liar out of himself one more time. But the national security of a nation should not ever take a back seat to a President’s pride.
To begin with, it is not like chemical weapons are being thrown around like water balloons. By the administration’s own estimate there has been a fraction of one percent of the casualties in the war killed by chemical weapons: not exactly a holocaust. Moreover, the United States government will not even release their evidence of the chemical weapon use for analysis or scrutiny. After the last few weeks of scandals are we really supposed to just trust them? Even without the scandals, would their word be enough? The Russians have said the findings are not credible, which is certainly bias because they have been on the Assad side of the war for a while; however, the U.N. also questions the claims. If the government really did find evidence of the use of chemical weapons, does the American public not deserve to see that evidence before our nation joins another war in our name that most of us do not want?
There is also evidence to suggest the rebels have also used chemical weapons. If both sides are equally guilty of crossing the same red line, why is it fit for us to pick sides? Obama could easily save his own credibility by taking no side, and giving this as the reason.
Aside from the questionable motives, the United States participation in Syria should also be called into question by history and logic. History has not been kind to us when our government picks sides in a foreign revolution. We picked sides in Iran, and ended up with the Ayatollahs that now hold power. We aided the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan and ended up with the Taliban Regime. We had an ambassador and three others killed in Libya after supporting their revolution. Human rights violations, minority discrimination and crackdown on descent are now common in Egypt. Hundreds of people die each month in terrorist attacks in Iraq, and that nation is now far from settled. This time around in Afghanistan there are reports of wide spread corruption in the new–and anything but stable–government. Many feel that if the Taliban continues their attacks, the Afghan public may prefer their return to power so long as they can guarantee safety and stability.
The point is, it has rarely been in the long term benefit of the United States to sacrifice stability in a regime–even if a bad one–for democracy. One might argue Vietnam is the only time it has worked in our favor.
Logic really does not urge us to arm the rebels either. Of course, the White House insists that we only arm “good” rebels, but unless the NSA data collection is far more omniscient than we are being told there is simply no way to guarantee this. Not even Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) could tell the difference. During his visit to the Syrian rebels, he may have had his picture taken with Ammar Al-Dadikhi, aka Abu Ibrahim–a man accused of kidnapping 11 people. Moreover, many people on the ground in Syria have reported that the “good” rebels, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), just turns and runs at the first sign of fighting. It is the Al Qaeda rebels that do the dirty work, and have most of the military power.
This tells us that if the FSA is given the weapons, Al Qaeda could easily just walk in to a base and demand they turn them over. American officials are also forgetting one major problem: money is not a standard in Syria. Weapons can and have been readily used for money in the Middle East. Giving the FSA weapons will likely result in many of them being sold, probably to Al Qaeda, if they do not just choose to take them. Weapons also do not have a quick shelf life. What will the FSA do with their arms when the conflict is over? If they have not sold them by then, they will certainly have little reason not to at that point.
Jumping into a war on the opposite side of Russia and Iran should raise some eyebrows. War makes strange bedfellows, and it may be the United States pairing with Al Qaeda to fight Hezbollah, Russia, and Iran. The evidence is not solid, the outcome is not certain, the future is questionable, and the idea is not safe. So, I will ask this one more time; do we really want to arm the Syrian rebels?
17 June 2013