Sequestration

Covered at Reason 24/7: John Kerry Pledges $60 Million to Syrian Opposition Forces

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sequester proof
Reason 24/7

In the last few weeks, the White House has been engaged in a high-pitched fearmongering campaign over sequestration, one that went well beyond the facts. Sequester, according to the White House, could lead to slower emergency response, slashed healthcare, and people living in the street. One thing it won't lead to? A less interventionist foreign policy. Money is no object for the heir to the Heinz fortune, and it's no different in his new role as Secretary of State.

From the LA Times:  

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pledged an additional $60 million in aid to Syrian opposition forces Thursday, including food and medical support directly to armed rebels for the first time but turning aside their demand for weapons.

Kerry, on his first foreign trip as America's top diplomat, said that the extra assistance would help "the legitimate voice of the Syrian people," who have been trying in vain for nearly two years to topple President Bashir Assad. Kerry said Assad had "long ago lost his legitimacy…and must be out of power."

And we must not be broke yet. Small wonder most Americans aren't worried about the sequester at all.

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  1. Yeah, it will only be non-lethal humanitarian aid, just like with the Contras. With the exception that the Contras weren’t Islamist fanatics who think there’s nothing about Lady Gaga that a squirt of acid on the face wouldn’t fix.

    1. Well, to be fair, most people think that about Lady Gaga.

    2. It isn’t about who we’re helping. The question is about whether helping them is in the best interest of American security.

      1. So, is it in the interests of US national security to aid Islamist fanatics who have a soft spot for the late Usama bin Laden?

        1. I don’t know that they all have a soft spot for Osama bin Laden, but I know that American security interests shouldn’t be held captive to whatever group has been demonized lately…

          For instance, I happen to think that what we got out of supporting the Mujahideen in Afghanistan was an excellent investment–considering its contribution to the disintegration of the USSR.

          If seeing Assad fall has wider benefits for American security than helping the people who are fighting him has drawbacks, then we should definitely consider helping Assad’s enemies–regardless of whether they’re nice people.

          1. I love euphemisms like “nice people” – but once we realize that “nice” is a euphemism for “not persecuting Christians and following the Islamist line on suppressing freedom,” then maybe supporting nice people would be a good idea.

            1. Bear in mind that Islamists who persecute Christians tend to put Americans in the Christian category.

              1. Imagine you’re drowning in quicksand, in the middle of the wilderness, and you’re screaming for help. Someone comes to your rescue and throws you a rope, but once you grab onto it, you realize that the guy that pulling you out of the quicksand–is an America hating Islamist.

                Do you let go of the rope and start screaming for someone else?

                We’re not exactly drowning in quicksand, but we have some long term threats to deal with in the region. Iran, which has a nuclear program and a long range missile program, apparently considers the support of Assad to be…fairly essential to their security in the region.

                http://world.time.com/2013/02/…..-in-syria/

                If we can deprive Iran of that support, then I think that might be in our long term security interests. Certainly, I think Iran’s nuclear program and long range missile program is a bigger security threat than Al Qaeda is.

                Moreover, I’m not convinced that the Islamists in Syria are all pro-Al Qaeda. For those that haven’t noticed, the Islamists are running Egypt right now (in cooperation with the Army), and they’re acting more or less as our allies. It is not clear to me at all that if the rebels in Syria are successful in deposing Assad, that it’ll become like when the Taliban were operating Afghanistan for the benefit of Al Qaeda.

              2. ed,
                perhaps you could explain how the opposition is more friendly to the US than Assad. We heard much the same argument about Egyptians not named Mubarak and Lybians who were not Qadaffi.

                Unless the administration’s policy is to consistently support the worse of two not great alternatives, hard to imagine this ending any way but badly.

                1. Speaking of Egypt and Libya, I’m not sure they’re ending badly from a U.S. security standpoint.

                  The Islamists are no longer in the shadows in Egypt, they’re doing what they can to appease the interests of Egyptian society at large. The Islamists may be held accountable by Egyptian voters and protestors. Is U.S. security worse off for seeing the Islamists’ held accountable?

                  Before Qaddafi fell, Libya was a gigantic source of Jihadis–there was no way for those people to have a productive life in Libya so long as Qaddafi was in power. Now that he’s gone, those people have been chased out of Southern Libya and into places like Mali. To oversimplify a little bit, Libya was going to continue to be a constant source of Jihadis worldwide–until Qaddafi was no longer in power. Now he’s gone!

                  Egypt was a prolific source of Jihadis, too! Things are still dicey, and things could still turn for the much worse–but it isn’t clear to me that rebels in Libya and Islamists in Egypt taking over have been a net negative for American security so far. …to the contrary!

                  1. Now that he’s gone, those people have been chased out of Southern Libya and into places like Mali.

                    And I’m sure all the women in northern Mali raped by the Ansar Dine, and all the men and children killed, maimed, and multiated by AQIM and Ansar al-Sharia, share your joy that Qaddafi was overthrown.

            2. but once we realize that “nice” is a euphemism for “not persecuting Christians and following the Islamist line on suppressing freedom,” then maybe supporting nice people would be a good idea.

              Are you kidding? Syria’s Christian, mostly professional-class and affulent, minority will be the first on the(literal) chopping block when Assad falls.

              1. That is actually my point.

          2. But even if we had not helped the Mujahideen there still would have been a Mujahideen

            Plus the Soviet economy would still be a basket case and having to support the communist government of Afghanistan along with all the other client states would still have been a huge burden

            1. “But even if we had not helped the Mujahideen there still would have been a Mujahideen”

              They wouldn’t have had Stingers.

              “The U.S.-built Stinger antiaircraft missile, supplied to the mujahideen in very large numbers beginning in 1986, struck a decisive blow to the Soviet war effort as it allowed the lightly armed Afghans to effectively defend against Soviet helicopter landings in strategic areas.”

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O…..he_program

              “Plus the Soviet economy would still be a basket case and having to support the communist government of Afghanistan along with all the other client states would still have been a huge burden”

              If supporting client states was a burden for the Soviets, they wouldn’t have constantly been seeking to expand.

              There were two ways for communism to perpetuate itself despite the economic problems.

              1) Starve people to death by the millions.

              2) Constant expansion.

              North Korea can’t expand, which is why it perpetuates itself by letting the masses starve to death periodically.

              After the Ukraine (the Great Leap Forward, etc.), the Soviet Union saw mass starvation as Plan B. Doing something to stop Soviet expansion was necessary, and if you aren’t going to do it with our own troops (as in Vietnam), then you might as well let other people do your fighting for you–especially if they’re volunteering for the job.

              1. Yeah, like Afghanistan was going to turn the Soviet economy around. It was a basket case then, its a basket case now, both the previous Communist government and the present (whatever) government is only kept alive by billions in subsidies.

                How is having to pay those billions going to make either the Soviet government or our government better off?

                And as to Stingers, even without them the Afghanis still fight today and the US is still going to leave like the Soviet left.

                1. “Yeah, like Afghanistan was going to turn the Soviet economy around.”

                  The textbook given reasons for the invasion were that they wanted creeping access towards India, the Indian Ocean (warm water ports), and trade with the Persian Gulf.

                  There was substantial mission creep involved, too. They thought they would be in and out, which is typical superpower thinking…

                  Anyway, their expansion wasn’t limited to Afghanistan. They were trying to expand in Africa, Central and South America, and everywhere else they could get a foothold, too. Soviet expansion wasn’t a conspiracy theory.

                  1. “””Soviet expansion wasn’t a conspiracy theory.””‘

                    And it was a failure too. Every time they expanded they got more client states with basket case economies. The Soviets had to pour resources into their client states and this weakened them. The first thing that went when the Soviet system was collapsing was the subsidies to their client states.

                    That is why I am so opposed to the USA’s clients since the US is pouring money into them both with cash and with free defense subsides and the US can’t afford it either. It just that the US started in this game richer then the Soviets so we could do it longer, however that is not something we can do forever.

                    If the US government wants to support freedom it should give that $60 million back to the US taxpayers.

          3. I don’t know that they all have a soft spot for Osama bin Laden, but I know that American security interests shouldn’t be held captive to whatever group has been demonized lately

            You don’t “know that” because you refuse to acknowledge all the evidence against your fairy-tale narrative of the plucky underdog Syrian rebels fighting against authoritarianism. (See Feeney’s article from yesterday).

            For instance, I happen to think that what we got out of supporting the Mujahideen in Afghanistan was an excellent investment–considering its contribution to the disintegration of the USSR.

            You, and Charlie Wilson, both deserve to have your families end up like this, for make no mistake, that’s the only fruit of our “investment”.

            If seeing Assad fall has wider benefits for American security than helping the people who are fighting him has drawbacks, then we should definitely consider helping Assad’s enemies–regardless of whether they’re nice people.

            Only a sociopath would consider arming and channeling funds to violent thugs to support the interests of the American Industrial-Military complex to be morally/ethically justified.

            Kendall wants to use our tax dollars to fuel the current bloodshed in Syria. And he has the chutzpah to call me an Islamophobe.

            1. “You don’t “know that” because you refuse to acknowledge all the evidence against your fairy-tale narrative of the plucky underdog Syrian rebels fighting against authoritarianism.”

              Um…no.

              I fully acknowledge the ugly flaws of the rebels. I’m just not willing to subjugate American security interests because I don’t like who the enemy of my enemy is. I’m not absolutely sure that the upside of overthrowing Assad is better than the downside of helping the rebels yet either–but I’m not about to overlook the upside just because there’s a downside. That would be irrational.

              Incidentally, opposing the overthrow of an oppressive dictator because you’re afraid of what free people might replace him with? Is about the most hypocritical position a self-professed libertarian can take.

              I understand opposing the overthrow of an oppressive dictator because doing so wouldn’t be in the best interests of American security–but that’s different.

              “Only a sociopath would consider arming and channeling funds to violent thugs to support the interests of the American Industrial-Military complex to be morally/ethically justified.”

              Yeah, I just want to support the Industrial-Military complex?

              Why would anyone take your statement seriously?

              1. Security interests? Does Syria have a blue-water navy? Do they have ICMBs? Why do you even think America has any right to intervene?

                Incidentally, opposing the overthrow of an oppressive dictator because you’re afraid of what free people might replace him with? Is about the most hypocritical position a self-professed libertarian can take.

                I neither support nor oppose Assad. I’m not Syrian. However, unlike you, I realize that the Islamist insurgency isn’t going to allow “free people” a choice in what will replace Assad. And again, I see no reason why one should support the insurgency with money or arms, nor oppose them with military attack. From the real liberty-minded perspective, to intervene in the affairs of any country, like you suggest, is hypocritical.

                Yeah, I just want to support the Industrial-Military complex?

                Why would anyone take your statement seriously?

                They would take it seriously because you haven’t proven that an American intervention in Syria would be of benefit to anyone else except arms maufacturers and military top brass.

                1. Why do you even think America has any right to intervene?

                  Of course America has a right to intervene. America is a free state and Syria isn’t. Whether America should or not is a whole other question.

                  The ‘secularism’ of Assad is a crock too. He supported AQ in Iraq (now that’s blowback!), Fatah-al Islam, and Hizbollah and a bunch of other fanatics.

                  The real reason America should stay out of Syria is that the current situation of our enemies killing each other is in our interests.

                2. “Security interests? Does Syria have a blue-water navy? Do they have ICMBs? Why do you even think America has any right to intervene?”

                  I’ve already written about that, but here’s the short version.

                  Iran has a long range missile program. Iran has a nuclear program. Assad is Iran’s ally, and Iran considers the Assad regime to vital to its own security interests–which is why it’s supplying so much weaponry and manpower to the Assad regime right now.

                  In regards to why the U.S. has a right to intervene, once again, this is not Iraq. We are not invading Syria. We aren’t even picking this fight. The Syrian people have chosen to intervene–not the United States. If we choose to support the Syrian rebels, it won’t be the U.S. that started this.

                  The Syrian people started this fight just like the Libyan people started their fight with Qaddafi. The U.S. intervened in Iraq–and sending the rebels in Syria humanitarian aid or weapons won’t be anything like that at all. I’m not talking about sending U.S. troops to Syria–ever. And if Obama, or anyone else, argued for that, I’d oppose it completely.

                  1. “””The Syrian people have chosen to intervene–not the United States. If we choose to support the Syrian rebels, it won’t be the U.S. that started this.””‘

                    We would have started supporting one side against the other when even you can’t tell us what that side represents.

                    If you want to go off an fight in Syria or send money then go for it, leave me out of it.

              2. “Incidentally, opposing the overthrow of an oppressive dictator because you’re afraid of what free people might replace him with? Is about the most hypocritical position a self-professed libertarian can take.”

                This^

                Not that I support US involvment, but I do enjoy watching Assad’s planes and helicopters fall from the sky as his brutal regime burns.

                1. Again, I’m sure all the Syrian families huddling in the basements with little food, water, or heat share your enjoyment as their cities become the 10th circle of Hell.

                  1. “Again, I’m sure all the Syrian families huddling in the basements with little food, water, or heat share your enjoyment as their cities become the 10th circle of Hell.”

                    Very few of them will cry for Assad when he’s hanged. Regardless, the future of Syria shouldn’t be for Americans to decide–but then we’re not talking about American troops invading Syria. We’re talking about helping the Syrian people overthrow their own dictator.

                    This isn’t Iraq.

                    1. Very few of them will cry for Assad when he’s hanged.

                      They won’t be crying because if they’re Shiite, Alawite, Christian, or just not zealous enough for the Islamists’ tastes, they’ll be up on the gallows with him.

                      We’re talking about helping the Syrian people overthrow their own dictator.

                      It’s kind of sad that you are so naive to think that the al-Nusra Front represents the Syrian populace, as opposed to being a group composed of foreign insurgents from all over the Middle East and beyond.

              3. Incidentally, opposing the overthrow of an oppressive dictator because you’re afraid of what free people might replace him with? Is about the most hypocritical position a self-professed libertarian can take.
                ————-
                burn that straw man. Opposing US involvement in said overthrow does not equal opposition, per se.

                1. “burn that straw man. Opposing US involvement in said overthrow does not equal opposition, per se.”

                  I’m saying that if the shoe fits, wear it.

                  Any libertarian that opposes overthrowing Assad because they’re afraid of what the Syrian people might do with their freedom is being hypocritical.

                  I can see opposing the overthrow of an oppressive dictator because it isn’t in America’s best security interests–or becasue you dread being dragged into the conflict directly, or for any one of a bunch of other reasons…

                  But if IF IF some people oppose others having their freedom because freedom is dangerous–and they call themselves libertarians? Then they should think carefully about what being libertarian means.

              4. “””Incidentally, opposing the overthrow of an oppressive dictator because you’re afraid of what free people might replace him with? Is about the most hypocritical position a self-professed libertarian can take.”””

                No, the libertarian position is that if you want to send your own money to Syria either to supply the rebels or the government then you should do so. Taking money from the taxpayers however is something that libertarians are against especially to put one group of people who want to be the government in a foreign country in power over another group who wants to be the government.

                The anarchist are totally against it, the minimalists probably want some better odds of good results then just guessing one side is better then the other and probably would want some evidence this cost is worth it to the taxpayers.

                1. “No, the libertarian position is that if you want to send your own money to Syria either to supply the rebels or the government then you should do so.”

                  Within the context of the debate about whether Congress should support the president in helping or arming rebels in another country, then there’s a debate libertarians can participate in.

                  I’m not an anarchist. I think the federal government exists for the purpose of protecting our rights.

                  I want a civil court system so I can sue to protect my rights, and if I am sued I know my rights will be protected.

                  I want a criminal court system to protect my rights from criminals and so that if I’m accused of a crime, I know my rights will be protected.

                  I want a national defense system so that my rights will be protected from foreign threats to my rights to life, liberty and property. Some people may argue that the only way to do that is by way of a foreign invasion–but if someone else somewhere on the globe present themselves as strategic allies, then I think that falls within the purview of national defense.

                  …which is to say, using the government to strike a strategic alliance with a foreign interest (like the rebels in Syria) may be well within the context of the federal government protecting our rights from foreign threats.

            2. You, and Charlie Wilson, both deserve to have your families end up like this, for make no mistake, that’s the only fruit of our “investment”.

              Complete nonsense.

              1) That is not the ‘only’ fruit of the investment. The other fruit was the disintegration of the USSR.

              2) The notion that the US aid to the Mujahadeen led to the Taliban is wholly discredited. The US allies largely became the Northern Alliance, our help.

              1. 1) That is not the ‘only’ fruit of the investment. The other fruit was the disintegration of the USSR.

                The Afghanistan conflict didn’t lead to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. That’s just Reagan mythologizing. What led to the end of the USSR was a reverse domino effect that was part of a zeitgiest of the Eastern Bloc turning to market liberalization and democracy (e.g. Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, etc.)

                2) The notion that the US aid to the Mujahadeen led to the Taliban is wholly discredited. The US allies largely became the Northern Alliance, our help.

                You might want to poke around the photo gallery I posted above to see what ‘upstanding gentlemen’ the Northern Alliance were. On 9/10/01, Karzai was merely a drug lord with ambition.

                1. The Afghan conflict was a major factor in the collapse of the USSR. To say otherwise is to defy reality.

                  The Northern Alliance’s actions in Afghanistan have no moral bearing for the USG government beyond ‘does it help us protect the rights of US citizens’? That is the only legitimate criterion.

                  1. The Afghan conflict was a major factor in the collapse of the USSR. To say otherwise is to defy reality.

                    Nope, not buying it. The ponderous Soviet war machine was more than prepared, budget-wise, to fight a war like the Afghani conflict. Was it a waste of men and money? Of course. Was it a loss the USSR could absorb? Absolutely.

                    The Northern Alliance’s actions in Afghanistan have no moral bearing for the USG government beyond ‘does it help us protect the rights of US citizens’? That is the only legitimate criterion.

                    That sort of argument is why I believe the nation-state is evil.

        2. Shouldn’t we arm the non-Islamist Syrians so they’ll be able to protect themselves against the radical Islamists once Assad is gone?

          We have two problems in Syria… allowing Assad to win and then allowing the radical Islamists to takeover. It is in our interests to help the Syrians that are neither with Assad or are radicalized Islamists.

    3. You mean that ugly mug of hers is not a result of an acid attack?

        1. Not seeing it. She’s not futt bugly, but “attractive,” especially with the adverb “quite,” is not how I would ever describe her.

          1. Don’t like the Italian look I take it?

            1. I certainly don’t like the way that Italian looks.

  2. That $60 million could save hundreds of child firemen.

    1. And keep the Department of Education’s lights on for three days.

    1. That’s our problem, not enough wars.

      1. In actuality, our problem is obsequiously approaching these thugs on bended knee with huge chests of treasure in hopes of “buying peace”. (cf. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority, etc.)

        If we didn’t feel as if we had to stick our nose in every conflict, we wouldn’t be subject to extortion by every Thugee cult with a nation-state.

        1. On this we agree.

          1. Yes – stop cutting checks, stop anything other than trade and a statement that would be of the sort “leave us alone, we’ll leave you alone. Attack us and hammered. Ma’a salamaa.

            1. We’ve been attacked by Iran many times. Can we has hammertime already?

              1. You must like Jennifer Rubin.

                Pat Buchannan has it right in asking:

                “How is America, with thousands of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, scores of warships in the Med[sic], Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, bombers and nuclear subs and land based missiles able to strike and incinerate Iran within half an hour, threatened by Iran?”

        2. Let’s not mention the elephant in the room when it comes to treasure chests proffered on bended knees with the excuse of “buying peace”.

    2. That was only after we tried the experiment of spewing jizya all over their faces. When that simply whetted their appetite for more piracy, we finally said enough.

      And there wars were fought strictly in the US national interset, not in the interest of making the pirates into democrats who respected women and never left the seat up.

      1. That was only after we tried the experiment of spewing jizya all over their faces.

        I thought it was Jefferson who supplied the prostitutes to them, when they visited D.C..

  3. Some flapping head on the news this morning was all like “I know $60M sounds like a lot, but this a wartime economy.” Well, OK then.

    $60M is a small price to pay for people to hate us slightly less. For now. Now being a few days before they come asking for more.

    1. “””$60M is a small price to pay for people to hate us slightly less”””‘

      Except that they will hate us more to prove that they are not lackeys of the US.

      1. The only winning move is not to play.

        1. That winning move necessarily means not playing with the military industrial national security big brother 24/7 total surveillance complex.

          Only the goofiest, most gullible clovers buy the bull shit that unless we have a strong militarah we are doomed. People who buy that nonsense are suckers.

  4. Kerry, on his first foreign trip as America’s top diplomat, said that the extra assistance would help hinder “the legitimate voice of the Syrian American people,” who have been trying in vain for nearly two five years to topple President Bashir Assad Barack Obama. Kerry said Assad Obama had “long ago lost his legitimacy…and must be out of power.”

    Better.

  5. In better news, kid finds out what token did on South Park – lions are jerks. He cleverly finds a way to deal with them.

    1. If the lions are skittish as a result of being hunted, that might change once they’re protected.
      Lions in CA aren’t frightened of people any longer.

  6. These people, under any other circumstances, would be called terrorists by the government. Giving them aid makes zero sense. If Kerry wants to give them money, it should be out of his own pocket and not mine.

  7. Yes giving out money to foreigners whom the US might very well end up going to war with is such a good idea.

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