McCain Resolution Calls for Arming Syrian Opposition, Safe Zones

Obama has already begun intervening in Syria to a considerable degree, holding out military support until the rebels organize

by John Glaser, March 28, 2012

Senator John McCain introduced a new resolution on Syria Wednesday that calls for arming the Syrian rebels to fight the regime of Bashar al-Assad and establishing safe zones inside Syria.

The non-binding resolution stops short of calling for U.S. military intervention in Syria, which McCain and his co-sponsors support. The resolution is meant to build congressional support for some kind of direct intervention on behalf of the Syrian opposition

Sponsoring the bill with McCain are – unsurprisingly – Sens. Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman, Jon Kyl, Kelly Ayotte, and John Hoeven.

The Obama administration announced on Sunday their plan to send “non-lethal” aid to the Syrian rebels. In fact, Washington had already announced that it had been providing humanitarian aid to opposition fighters and administration officials confirmed on Sunday that the U.S. had already begun to supply some aid, including communications gear, to the rebel Free Syrian Army.

Agreeing to give non-military aid to the Syrian opposition drastically increases the likelihood that substantial military assistance, from the U.S. or some other allied country, will soon be introduced. This opens the floodgates for yet another war of choice by the Obama administration.

Allying with the rebel fighters in a bid to oust the Assad regime is a grave mistake for the U.S. The opposition is unorganized, has itself committed serious crimes, and contains elements of religious extremists. Using them as a proxy to topple the Assad government seems tactically impossible and strategically dangerous, considering they have no capacity to form a government post-Assad. Syria would descend into chaos.

The administration apparently does not oppose military intervention – whether in aid or in, say, a bombing campaign – but rather seems to be holding out until the opposition can get its act together. “They must come forward with a unified position,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday, “a vision if you will, of the kind of Syria that they are working to build. They must be able to clearly demonstrate a commitment to including all Syrians and protecting the rights of all Syrians. And we are going to be pushing them very hard to present such a vision.”

But any intervention, military or non-military, carries a high probability that the violence will consequently escalate, spread across the region, and embroil the United States in another deadly, protracted war in the Middle East.

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