The last big news about the U.S. and Syria was that military intervention would be put on the back burner while President Barack Obama explored a diplomatic solution at Russia’s proposal. Which is why it’s confusing that Obama has taken the first major [official] step towards providing rebels with small-time military support since the chemical weapons debate began last month. Meanwhile, the problems at home continue to take a backseat.
On Monday Obama waived the prohibitions specified in Arms Export Control Act (AECA) that prevent the U.S. from supplying both lethal and non-lethal support to terrorist groups. Thus paving the way for the U.S. to start providing ‘vetted’ Syrian rebel groups with small arms.
National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden clarified that Obama’s action will allow the U.S. Government to “provide or license” non-lethal assistance to Syria. However, it is no secret that the CIA has already begun supplying very ‘lethal’ arms to rebel groups, according to US officials who spoke to The Washington Post last week.
Again, this is all very confusing. What happened to pursuing diplomacy before engaging militarily? Guns constitute military assistance.
After nearing a military strike over an August 21 poison gas attack in Syria that Washington blames on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Obama sided with the majority of U.S. citizens and is currently in the midst of brokering a deal with Syria via Russia on the international control of Assad’s chemical weapons.
It has to be said that providing even small arms to the most angelic of rebels is a bad idea. Not only because this could lead to an escalation in killing on the ground, but also because al-Qaedafighters are likely to fight the ‘vetted’ rebel groups and take their weapons.
Former New York Times correspondent and Middle East columnist Joel Brinkley told Carbonated.TV that the terrorist organization al-Qaeda had already declared war on the Free Syrian Army. The FSA is the secular force on the opposition side, and Al-Qaeda has already taken control of most rebel territories in the country.
Meanwhile, after presumably looking over the details of this ‘non-lethal’ assistance – which Obama has to provide them in order to override AECA restrictions – Congress (The House) is scheduled to vote on a bill this week that proposes a decrease of $4bn a year in food stamps over 10 years.
With the increase in the number of Americans who rely on this welfare, the cost of the program has more than doubled in the past five years.
So here’s an idea:
Why not reduce food assistance to Americans and increase arms to ‘vetted rebels’ so that fighting may continue in a war that has nothing to do with Americans.
Does one really need to point out the major disconnect here between national priorities and U.S. foreign policy?