Foreign and Defense Policy, Middle East and North Africa

Obama and arming the Syrian rebels

Photo Credit: Pete Souza, White House Flickr Feed

Photo Credit: Pete Souza, White House Flickr Feed

Yesterday, both the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and outgoing SecDef Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee that they supported arming the rebels in Syria. We also know that Hillary Clinton supported doing the same. So… let’s get this straight. Military leader, DoD leader, SecState all supported arming the rebels. Who didn’t? Barack Obama and his coterie in the White House.

Now, that’s perfectly legitimate. The national security team works for and at the pleasure of the president of the United States. He is free to heed or dismiss their counsel. Having done so, however, we must clearly understand that the fiasco that is the war in Syria is Obama’s and Obama’s alone.

Remember, no one suggested “boots on the ground” in Syria; no one wanted US forces involved except possibly for the purpose of guaranteeing safe corridors. The only thing that those of us who argued for arming the rebels believed was that the United States is a better arbiter of good guy vs bad guy among the rebels than Gulf leaders; that subcontracting to others when in our interest is the right call; that the surest blow to Iran would be to depose Bashar al Assad; and that the United States has both moral and strategic interests in seeing moderate and secular forces in Syria empowered and in charge in Damascus.

Now, none of this will happen. 80,000+ people are dead. Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups have established a beachhead in Syria. The protracted war and the aftermath are likely to destabilize a NATO ally (Turkey), an Arab leader (Jordan’s Abdullah), Lebanon, Iraq, and the Israeli-Syrian border. The future of Syria post-Assad is in question. And who owns this epic disaster? Barack Obama. Perhaps he should have listened to wiser counsel. Instead, he has searched for less independent thinkers to fill the ranks of his national security team. To paraphrase from the Good Book, it is clear that an unwise man will ignore and refuse learning, and a man without understanding will attain foolish counsel. Indeed.

7 thoughts on “Obama and arming the Syrian rebels

  1. Yesterday, both the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and outgoing SecDef Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee that they supported arming the rebels in Syria. We also know that Hillary Clinton supported doing the same. So… let’s get this straight. Military leader, DoD leader, SecState all supported arming the rebels. Who didn’t? Barack Obama and his coterie in the White House.

    This makes Obama look a lot more prudent than the idiots in his cabinet. After all Obama learned a lesson from the arming of the Libyan rebels and from the funding, training, and arming al-Qaeda to fight the Russians. The problem is not that Obama does not listen enough to his military advisors but that he has picked people with such bad judgment to begin with.

  2. Nobody likes what is going on in Syria, Libya, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and on and on and on and on ad infinitum. But this is definitely NOT “Obama’s Problem”. Those people have been up in arms for generations, and they are simply going to have to figure things out for themselves. Sometimes, doing nothing IS the right answer.

    How can we possibly presume to know what’s best for them, or think that they would let us impose our will upon them? The last several decades of turmoil in the region have proven the limits of US control. There is no sense in continuing to test them.

    • the problem has been all along that the NeoCons are pissed that Obama is not a neocon so any/all “problems” now are, by definition, his fault. Had Romney won and the NeoCons kept their position, all would have been well.. as it has been in Iraq and Afghanistan, right?

      ;-)

      If Obama is so wrong, how come other countries have not stepped in and did what he won’t?

      Now if Obama HAD given the rebels weapons and it turned out it was the WRONG thing to do a the Muslim Brotherhood or some other Muslim buggaboo ended up taking over Syria – you can bet your boots the SAME folks who wanted Obama to arm the rebels would then say that by arming them it showed how incompetent and naive Obama was for trusting the rebels.

      In other words – he’s gonna be wrong no matter what cuz he never should have been POTUS to start with.

      If that ain’t the truth, it’s dang close!

      • If Obama is so wrong, how come other countries have not stepped in and did what he won’t?

        I have news for you Larry. Obama did give weapons to terrorists in Libya. You are giving him a bit too much credit.

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