Friday, March 01, 2013

Obama Should Call A Plebiscite... On Syria


I'm sure John Kerry is happy to be out of the Senate and on his way towards making a mark in the world. I heard the other day he was in Germany, talking German and everyone was very excited. Cool! Yesterday, though, he was in the Eternal City working on overthrowing Syria's government. Don't we ever learn? Ever? He's not even bothering to consult his old Senate pals about changing U.S. policies in the Middle East-- not even a warmonger like McCain who's been urging war in Syria before it was, apparently, cool. An always disgruntled McCain bitched to the press: “It's a half measure. And I know from my sources that many of those weapons [provided by other countries in] are not getting through… are going to the wrong people, these jihadist outfits. And here we are 23 months into it, 70,000 dead, so it's a small half-measure." But Republicans in Congress are a hot mess and pulling in a million directions. Rubio joined Lindsey Graham in demanding the Administration start sending weapons to Syria, while House Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon muttered darkly that arming groups “doesn't work very well for us. At some point, they start using bullets to shoot back at us.”

I'll get back to that in a minute. First, the plebiscite-- a simple referendum in light of the catastrophic Sequester our political elites dragged the country into. (No matter that they're blaming each other, Obama signed it into law and Boehner forced it through Congress with almost his whole caucus and half the Democrats.) Since we're embarking down the road towards Austerity and severe cutbacks, how about a national vote on that $60 million Kerry promised the Syrian rebels yesterday? Does Congress vote on that? Will it be buried in some innocuous legislation or a massive omnibus bill? I bet any congressman-- either side of the aisle-- who votes for it would put his career in jeopardy. So let's allow the American people to have a say instead, as we take the first treacherous step down the slippery slope.

War again... I can't believe it. Aside from the Likud, AIPAC and a bunch of crackpot evangelicals who want to bring Jesus back, who wants to see Americans fighting in Syria (or against Syria's ally, Iran)?

Are there any "good guys" in this civil war? I heard Mouaz al-Khatib yelling from Rome today that the U.S. should stop measuring the beards of the fighters and just arm them. That means-- stop trying to figure out who's a terrorist and who isn't. And he's right-- about that. Ultimately, they're ALL terrorists, by the U.S. definition. Any weapons or resources the U.S. gives these people will be eventually used against the U.S. and against Israel, (which is now illegally drilling for gas in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights). That's a knowable known, to paraphrase one of Chuck Hagel's recent predecessors.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that the Syrian Opposition Coalition was the "legitimate voice of the Syrian people," and for the first time will receive direct, non-lethal support from Washington. He warned that Syria's long-time dictator, President Bashar Assad, was an individual "out of time, and who must be out of power."

Kerry spoke in Rome alongside his Italian counterpart and the head of the Opposition Coalition, Mouaz al-Khatib, on the sidelines of an international conference on Syria.

Secretary Kerry said that the U.S will not provide weapons or soldiers, but it will give food and medical supplies and pledge millions of dollars so that the Syrian opposition can begin to provide security and govern liberated parts of Syria.

"Today, on behalf of President Obama-- who has been very clear about the stakes in Syria-- I am proud to announce that the United States of America will be providing an additional $60 million immediately in non-lethal assistance to support the coalition in its operational needs day-to-day," Kerry said.

European nations were also expected to signal their intention to provide fresh assistance to the opposition.

Kerry said the U.S. decision was designed to increase pressure on Assad to step down and pave the way for a democratic transition. He said the aid was also intended to help the opposition govern newly liberated areas of Syria and blunt the influence of extremists.

"No nation, no people should live in fear of their so-called leaders," Kerry said.

"For more than a year, the United States and our partners have called on Assad to heed the voice of the Syrian people and to halt his war machine," Kerry said. "Instead, what we have seen is his brutality increase."

Kerry added, "The United States' decision to take further steps now is the result of the brutality of superior armed force propped up by foreign fighters from Iran and Hezbollah."

Washington has already provided $385 million in humanitarian aid to Syria's war-weary population and $54 million in communications equipment, medical supplies and other nonlethal assistance to Syria's political opposition. The U.S. also has screened rebel groups for Turkey and American allies in the Arab world that have armed rebel fighters.

But until now, no U.S. dollars or provisions have gone directly to rebel fighters, reflecting concerns about forces that have allied themselves with more radical Islamic elements since Assad's initial crackdown on peaceful protesters in March 2011.

"Given the stakes, the president will now extend food and medical supplies to the Syrian opposition, including the Supreme Military Council," Kerry said Thursday.

...CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan reports that the U.S. wants the opposition to counter the threat posed by Al Qaeda affiliates who have established control of cities inside Syria. European countries are considering giving military support, like night vision goggles and combat armor. Some of the Gulf countries are providing weapons.

But at this point the rebels say this assistance, while badly needed, is not what it has asked for in terms of building an Army to end the two-year war, said Brennan.
"There is no strategy... the U.S. is riding a tiger."

Labels: , ,


At 10:32 AM, Blogger John said...

Are suggesting a plebiscite would assuredly reject involvement in Syria?

That's imminently debatable but, of course, there will be no plebiscite. Our ultimate involvement in Syria will be determined on Obumma's upcoming visit to Israel.

He'll get his medal AND his marching orders re Syria.

John Puma


Post a Comment

<< Home