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Tue Feb 19, 2013, 12:53 AM

Obama Could Reconsider Arming Syrian Rebels as Assad Holds Firm

Source: New York Times

When President Obama rebuffed four of his top national security officials who wanted to arm the rebels in Syria last fall, he put an end to a months of debate over how aggressively Washington should respond to the strife there that has now left nearly 70,000 dead.

But the decision also left the White House with no clear strategy to resolve a crisis that has bedeviled it since a popular uprising erupted against President Bashar al-Assad almost two years ago. Despite an American program of nonlethal assistance to the opponents of the Syrian government and $365 million in humanitarian aid, Mr. Obama appears to be running out of ways to speed Mr. Assad’s exit.

With conditions continuing to deteriorate, officials could reopen the debate over providing weapons to select members of the resistance in an effort to break the impasse in Syria. The question is whether a wary Mr. Obama, surrounded by a new national security team, would come to a different conclusion.

“This is not a closed decision,” a senior administration official said. “As the situation evolves, as our confidence increases, we might revisit it.”

Mr. Obama’s decision not to provide arms when the proposal was broached before the November election, officials said, was driven by his reluctance to get drawn into a proxy war and by his fear that the weapons would end up in unreliable hands, where they could be used against civilians or Israeli and American interests.



Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/19/world/middleeast/as-assad-holds-firm-obama-could-revisit-arms-policy.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0



Uh-oh.

14 replies, 1993 views

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:12 AM

1. I still don't think it's a good idea. Russia is arming the government, we're arming the rebels--

do we want to start this proxy war only to have it go out of control on us? Hopefully, Kerry and Hagel (unlike Clinton and Panetta) would advise the President to reconsider.

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 06:29 AM

8. Exactly

Afghanistan and the USSR, Iraq and Iran, the list goes on...

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 10:25 AM

9. Indeed. Russia To Continue To Supply Arms To Syria

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:35 AM

2. Why would we want to do that?

 

Every one of these governments we knock over or let fall end up worse than they were before. Iraq, Egypt, Libya all worse. Why should we get involved at all? Let them handle their own business.

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:35 AM

3. Not just NO

But hell fucking NO. Iraq was a huge mistake and getting involved in its neighbor's civil war would be another huge mistake.

Obama is wise to stay clear.

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:54 AM

4. No I think Kerry is not so much a war hawk as Clinton.

And I definitely think that Hagel will be part of a proud tradition of realists that would avoid doing stupid things like shipping off national wealth to arm terrorists.

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Response to David__77 (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 12:11 PM

12. Agreed

By the way, Kerry, at every point, was less hawkish than Hagel. (I watched the SFRC hearings) The difference was that he was a Republican while Kerry of course is and was a Democrat.

Syria is a tough question and I agree with Obama deciding not to agree with his then National security people. (It should be noted that Hagel was an adviser then and that Kerry was chair of SFRC and was Obama's key foreign policy advocate in the election as well as being the one who worked the debates with him. Could it be that his "new" team might have supported him vs the "old" team? Note that Biden very likely agreed with the new team and Obama.

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 03:28 AM

5. So I ask all of you who are interested in this subject

What to do about this conflict then? With Russia, Iran and Hezbollah clearly giving weapons and ammunition as well as even manpower to the gov what should the world community do about this conflict? What do you guys think should be done or not be done overall?

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Response to jzodda (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:06 PM

13. There has to be a negotiated settlement.

Which means the diplomatic track, no matter how disappointing so far, must persevere.

I don't think either side can defeat the other militarily.

Both sides have made noises about talking, but neither seems serious at this point. Maybe after another year of fruitless bloodletting.

A negotiated settlement seems like a pipe dream, but the alternatives are horrible: The dissolution of Syria in endless civil war, or genocide.

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 04:12 AM

6. It seems our President is the crux of all decisions, both bad and good.

And he's also a m***********g bad-ass m**********r. Good luck repukes. Dogs who eat their own vomit.

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 05:45 AM

7. "Obama's decision not to provide weapons was supported by Biden, Thomas Donilon and Susan Rice."

But the president, who had campaigned on the theme that “the tide of war” was receding, was more skeptical, fearing that such a move would, in effect, draw the United States into a proxy war against the Syrian government and its Iranian and Russian backers, with uncertain results. His wariness was reinforced, officials said, by his closest advisers, including Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, both of whom advised against it.

Also skeptical, officials said, was Susan E. Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations. Her opposition was noteworthy, given that she had pushed for military intervention in Libya.

“In a situation as chaotic as Syria’s,” said an official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, “you don’t know where weapons might end up, and what the consequences are if those weapons are used against civilians, against Israel, against American interests.”

Though the White House has focused on the risks of providing weapons, other nations have had no such reservations. Russia has continued to provide arms and financial support to the Assad government. Iran has supplied the government with weapons and paramilitary Quds Force advisers. Hezbollah has sent militants to Syria to help Mr. Assad’s forces. On the other side, antigovernment Qaeda-affiliated fighters have been receiving financial aid and other support from their backers in the Middle East. ... On Monday, European Union foreign ministers decided against easing an arms moratorium despite objections by Britain.

“This is not a closed decision,” a senior administration official said. “As the situation evolves, as our confidence increases, we might revisit it.”

I suppose that any decision about any issue is not a 'closed decision' in the sense that if 'the situation' changes policy may have to change. However, the main administration officials who backed a policy of arming the rebels (Petraeus and Clinton) are gone, while those opposing such a policy (Biden, Donilon and Rice) are still there.

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 10:43 AM

10. Only if there's no doubts it won't backfire. But current analyses don't sound good. nt

 

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 11:13 AM

11. Arming civilians against a tyrannical government?

 

That could never happen experts have told us.

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 05:28 PM

14. Hmm, could the consequences be similar to the consequences of arming mujahideen in Afghanistan

during the Soviet occupation?

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