Before Christmas, amid the drama of the fiscal cliff, and before the horrible shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama announced that our government would recognize the Syrian opposition as the legitimate representative of the country’s people, stating:
“The Syrian opposition coalition is now inclusive enough, and is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population, that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime.”
Question: What’s the difference between conservative foreign policy and liberal foreign policy?
That’s the way it looks to me, noting a few stories in the media. First, US military supplies and troops are going to Turkey:
The United States and Germany are sending Patriot missiles and troops to the Turkish border, a warning to Syria’s besieged President Bashar al-Assad.
The surface-to-air interceptors would be “dealing with threats that come out of Syria,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Threats would include Syrian strikes inside Turkey and fighting between the government and rebels that extends into Turkey.
Errant Syrian artillery shells struck the Turkish border town of Akcakale and killed five Turkish civilians in October.
“We can’t spend a lot of time worrying about whether that pisses off Syria,” said Panetta after signing the order Friday. He spoke after arriving Friday at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base, a U.S. Air Force installation about 80 miles from Syria’s border.
Despite the prospect of U.S. missiles on Al-Assad’s doorstep and a weakening regime, U.S. intelligence officials said the Syrian leader is showing no signs of giving up.
Yesterday, Rep. Ron Paul gave a speech on the House floor in regards to situation in Syria. Syria has descended into bloody civil war with rebel groups trying to oust Syrian dictator Bashir Assad. There have been reports of massacres and atrocities being committed by forces to loyal to the Assad government. In response, there have been increasing calls for intervention by United States and NATO forces, in the mold of the recent Libyan adventure, to remove the Assad government from power.
Rep. Paul spoke out against the proposed intervention and will file legislation to stop President Obama from launching a war against the Assad regime without Congressional authorization. This is legislation I would strongly support because only Congress has the constitutional duty to declare and authorize war. Plus, I believe intervention in Syria would be a huge mistake because it would likely ignite a larger Middle Eastern war involving Israel and Iran. However, the Paul speech unfortunately I believe did harm to supporters of non-interventionism and confirmed many negative stereotypes about them.
The speech included a few troubling passages, such as:
We are already too much involved in supporting the forces within Syria anxious to overthrow the current government. Without outside interference, the strife—now characterized as a civil war—would likely be non-existent.
With the White House upping United States’ involvement Syrian civil war and tensions increasing with North Korea, a new poll from The New York Times and CBS News shows that Americans are opposed to further miltary against the two countries:
Americans are exhibiting an isolationist streak, with majorities across party lines decidedly opposed to American intervention in North Korea or Syria, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
Sixty-two percent of the public say the United States has no responsibility to do something about the fighting in Syria between government forces and antigovernment groups, while just one-quarter disagree. Likewise, 56 percent say North Korea is a threat that can be contained for now without military action, just 15 percent say the situation requires immediate American action and 21 percent say the North is not a threat at all.
Washington, for it’s part, isn’t listening. Members of Congress are increasing beating the drums of war, pushing for more direct funding and arms for rebels in Syria in response to reports that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against his own people.
It appears that politicians from both sides of the aisle in Washington are beginning to beat the drums of war against Syria. With news that Bashir Assad, the country’s dictator, has used chemical weapons against his own people, there is increasing talk of intervention by the United States military. The question is what kind of intervention we’ll see:
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) on Sunday said the U.S. should not rule out the use of American troops on the ground to end the violence in Syria’s civil war or secure the nation’s stockpile of chemical weapons.
“I don’t think you ever want to rule it out,” said McCaskill on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “This thing has really deteriorated and it’s not really at a tipping point, so I don’t think you ever want to say absolutely not.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) who also appeared on CBS, however, disagreed and said he would rule out American boots on the ground.
“I would say no, I think we can take affirmative action… We’ve got F-22s and B-2s that can take out the anti-aircraft missiles that they have and they are very sophisticated.
“We don’t need to put boots on the ground what we need to do is enable their neighbors, the neighbors of Syria to bring some sort of peaceful resolution to this. We can do it through a no fly zone,” added Chambliss.
Last week was the 10-year anniversary of the beginning of the United States’ involvement in the war in Iraq. After 10 years, I still believe that the decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s regime was the correct decision, but that the aftermath of the initial invasion was horribly managed, with poor rules of engagement, no clear strategy, and no real definition of “victory.” Even after the successful surge in troop levels helped to prevent an immediate decline into civil war and achieve an unsteady peace, the inability of the Obama Administration to come to a Status of Forces agreement with the Iraqi government not only left the United States with no tangible benefits 10 years later, but also left Iraq in a precarious position that runs the risk of declining into civil war that could have horrible regional consequences.
Opinions on the role of the UN in a modern world differ greatly. To some, the UN is a bureaucratic cesspool that brings nothing of value to the world. To others, it is a cherished organization that offers the possibility of resolving conflicts through diplomacy. To Manhattan commuters — even the ones who love what the UN represents — the organization has become synonymous with congested traffic, road closures, and being late for happy hour. I happen to fall somewhere in the middle: believing the UN is indeed a bureaucratic mess but also valuing the idea of voluntary associations and cooperation between nations.
What I wish to discuss today is just how ridiculous the UN has become. The organization is a great example of what moral bankruptcy looks like in practice: say one thing, but DO the exact opposite.
Case in point: the recent news that Syria appears likely to win a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. Yes, you read that correctly. A government that has been torturing and killing its own citizens for over a year is set to become a member of the body charged with protecting … human rights.
And in case anyone doubts the depravity of Al-Assad’s regime, click on the links below (Disclaimer: some of the images are shocking):
The Washington Post reported late last night that the United States had launched airstrikes targeting militants in Mogadishu, Somalia:
A U.S. drone aircraft fired on two leaders of a militant Somali organization tied to al-Qaeda, apparently wounding them, a senior U.S. military official familiar with the operation said Wednesday.
The strike last week against senior members of al-Shabab comes amid growing concern within the U.S. government that some leaders of the Islamist group are collaborating more closely with al-Qaeda to strike targets beyond Somalia, the military official said.
The airstrike makes Somalia at least the sixth country where the United States is using drone aircraft to conduct lethal attacks, joining Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. And it comes as the CIA is expected to begin flying armed drones over Yemen in its hunt for al-Qaeda operatives.