Rand Paul

Rand Paul Warns Against Sending Aid to Rebels in Syria

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Credit: Gage Skidmore/wikimedia

Last night, Politico published an article by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on why it might not be a good idea for the U.S to arm rebels in Syria. In the article Paul argues that any weapons the U.S. sends to Assad's opposition could end up in the hands of Al Qaeda-linked rebels and that there are no obvious American interests in Syria.

One of the most interesting sections of Sen. Paul's article is what he says about Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey:

Consider the recent reversal by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Last year, Dempsey reportedly endorsed a proposal by then-CIA Director David Petraeus to arm vetted members of Syria's rebel opposition but has since reconsidered his position. Now, Dempsey says he is unsure that the United States "could clearly identify the right people" to aid or arm in Syria. "It's actually more confusing on the opposition side today than it was six months ago," Dempsey testified in April.

Dempsey is not alone in his uneasiness. According to the latest Pew Research Center poll, more than 70 percent of Americans oppose intervening in Syria. And for good reason: Americans are sick and tired of being dragged into Middle East quagmires.

While it may have been reassuring back in April that the chairman of the joint chiefs was unsure of whether the "right people" in Syria could be identified, in testimony today before the Senate Armed Services Committee Dempsey said that he is now, "… in favor of building a moderate opposition and supporting it."

During his testimony Dempsey also testified that the Obama administration is considering the use of force in Syria, saying that so-called "kinetic strikes" are being considered as one possibility. Dempsey also conceded that Assad and his allies are currently in a better position than the opposition.

Earlier today, General Sir David Richards, the outgoing head of the British armed forces, offered some refreshing bluntness to the ongoing discussions about what to do in Syria, saying that if the British government wants to end the conflict in Syria and make sure Islamists don't acquire chemical weapons then it should prepare to do more than implement a no-fly zone and plan for a mission similar to what was seen in Libya. We all know how well that worked out.

Richards' comments suggest that the "kinetic strikes" Dempsey mentioned are what will be required if the U.S. wants to end the war in Syria. If and when U.S. involvement in the war in Syria escalates at least one member of the Senate is now on record having warned of what possible disastrous outcomes we might see.  

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  1. “kinetic strikes”

    By the name, that could be anything from spit wads to asteroids.

    1. I wish the weasel words would stop – “we would have to drop bombs on them, shoot missiles at them or fire artillery at them.”

  2. Not being a purist libertarian, I am strongly tempted by the idea of a little clever intervention. It’s cynical, but it’s in our national interest (and in the interests of freedom in general) to have our enemies (Sunni extremists and Shiite extremists) killing each other.

    Just sending arms to one side has obvious drawbacks, but perhaps we could prevent an Assad victory and keep things going by feeding some critical battlefield intelligence to the anti-Assad side. Not that I have a lot of faith in our ability to do something worthwhile, subtle, and deniable, but I would like to see Al Qaeda jihadis and Iran-backed terrorists (and Iran) fighting each other for as long as possible.

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