I feel like I’ve fallen into the Twilight Zone.
I mean, I have to stop and ask myself if I am partially to blame for this insanity.
Over the last few months, I’ve written often and desperately about the evil that is ISIS and how we must work to end their reign of terror.
But honestly folks… I didn’t mean like this.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to approve President Obama’s silly plan to arm and train “moderate” Syrian rebel forces. By a vote of 273 – 156 the House gave their consent to this horrible plan of action… and both parties know the plan is terrible. Both the Republicans and Democrats seem equally split on whether this is the proper course of action, but as we know, no one wants to look “weak” in the weeks before an election.
So we are going to send weapons to Syria. Where ISIS is. Where Bashar Assad (the dude we were trying to bomb less than a year ago) is.
If history has anything to say about this course of action – it’s that it likely won’t end well.
Just watch as Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) questions our Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, about the change in the Obama administrations stance towards arming the Syrian rebels. Warning! This will not boost your confidence about the wisdom/effectiveness of our administration.
Don’t forget… we armed rebels in Afghanistan – they eventually turned into Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
We helped rebels in Libya and Egypt… that has not turned out how we hoped.
We liberated Iraq and trained their army… now their army is on the run and those weapons are in the hands of ISIS.
This tactic is no surefire path to victory…
Making things worse – recently we learned that “moderate” Syrian rebel groups had been the ones to trade American Steven Sotloff to ISIS. Then, less than a week ago the Hill reported that some “moderate” Syrian rebels had signed a truce with ISIS and were focusing on fighting the Assad regime in Syria. (Since that report surfaced the White House has pushed back hard against it – saying no “recognized” moderate fighting force had done this.)
The fact of the matter is the “moderate” Syrian rebels… really aren’t that moderate.
Several of our favorite House members voted “NO” and would not support the President’s plan to arm and train the Syrian rebels. Here’s what they had to say.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI)
What have we learned from the last decade of war?
Those years should have taught us that when going to war, our government must:
(1) be careful when defining a military mission,
(2) speak forthrightly with the American people about the sacrifices they will be called to make,
(3) plan more than one satisfactory end to the conflict, and
(4) be humble about what we think we know.
These lessons should be at the front of our minds when Congress votes today on whether to arm groups in Syria.
Today’s amendment ostensibly is aimed at destroying ISIS—yet you’d hardly know it from reading the amendment’s text. The world has witnessed with horror the evil of ISIS: the public beheading of innocents, the killing of Christians, Muslims, and others.
The amendment’s focus—arming groups fighting the Assad government in Syria—has little to do with defeating ISIS. The mission that the amendment advances plainly isn’t the defeat of ISIS; it’s the defeat of Assad.
Americans stood overwhelmingly against entangling our Armed Forces in the Syrian civil war a year ago. If Congress chooses to arm groups in Syria, it must explain to the American people not only why that mission is necessary but also the sacrifices that that mission entails.
The Obama administration has tried to rally support for U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war by implying that our help would be at arm’s length. The amendment Congress will vote on broadly authorizes “assistance” to groups in Syria. It does not specify what types of weapons our government will give the groups. It does not prohibit boots on the ground. (The amendment is silent on the president’s power to order our troops to fight in the civil war; it states only that Congress doesn’t provide “specific statutory authorization” for such escalation.) It does not state the financial cost of the war.
As we should have learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we must plan for multiple satisfactory ends to military conflicts before we commence them.
If the Syrian groups that are “appropriately vetted” (the amendment’s language) succeed and oust Assad, what would result? Would the groups assemble a coalition government of anti-Assad fighters, and would that coalition include ISIS? What would happen to the Alawites and Christians who stood with Assad? To what extent would the U.S. government be obligated to occupy Syria to rebuild the government? If each of the groups went its own way, would Syria’s territory be broken apart, and if so, would ISIS control one of the resulting countries?
If the Syrian groups that we support begin to lose, would we let them be defeated? If not, is there any limit to American involvement in the war?
Perhaps some in the administration or Congress have answers to these questions. But the amendment we’ll vote on today contains none of them.
Above all, when Congress considers serious actions—especially war—we must be humble about what we think we know. We don’t know very much about the groups we propose to support or even how we intend to vet those groups. Reports in the last week suggest that some of the “appropriately vetted” groups have struck deals with ISIS, although the groups dispute the claim. The amendment requires the administration to report on its efforts to prevent our arms and resources from ending up in the wrong hands, but we know little about those precautions or their effectiveness.
Today, I will vote against the amendment to arm groups in Syria. There is a wide misalignment between the rhetoric of defeating ISIS and the amendment’s actual mission of arming certain groups in the Syrian civil war. The amendment provides few limits on the type of assistance that our government may commit, and the exit out of the civil war is undefined. And given what’s happened in our country’s most recent wars, our leaders seem to have unjustified confidence in their own ability to execute a plan with so many unknowns.
Some of my colleagues no doubt will come to different judgments on these questions. But it’s essential that they consider the questions carefully. That the president wants the authority to intervene in the Syrian civil war is not a sufficient reason to give him that power. Under the Constitution, it is Congress’s independent responsibility to commence war.
We are the representatives of the American people. The government is proposing to take their resources and to put their children’s lives at risk. I encourage all my colleagues to give the decision the weight it is due.
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID)
WASHINGTON, DC—Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID) today voted against President Obama’s proposal to provide training and weapons to “moderate” rebel forces opposed to the Assad regime in Syria. Rep. Labrador issued the following statement:
“Like all Americans, I am outraged and saddened by the murder of two Americans by ISIS. I would support a targeted operation to hunt down the killers and win justice for the victims and their families. Instead, the president has engaged in a broad intervention without congressional approval and sought authority to arm Syrian rebels whose primary interest is removing President Assad.
“As I warned last year, regime change could lead to a worse outcome for America. While Assad is a brutal dictator, I still believe backing rebels allied with al-Qaeda and on the same side as ISIS in this civil war likely would bring to power even worse elements in Syria. Our focus should not be on resolving an age-old religious civil war, but on bringing to justice those who took the lives of our citizens.”
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY)
Today, Congressman Massie voted against the President’s plan to arm and train Syrian rebels. The amendment passed the House, 273-156.
“It is immoral to use the threat of a government shutdown to pressure Members to vote for involvement in war, much less a civil war on the other side of the globe,” said Rep. Massie. “Because the Syrian resolution is contained within the Continuing Resolution, Representatives and Senators must tacitly approve the President’s aggressive intervention in order to vote to fund all government programs.”
Rep. Massie added, “Also, it is disingenuous for the Administration to tell the American public that we are arming Syrian rebels to fight ISIS when the Administration’s stated objective is to topple the secular government of Syria, a government which has not committed aggression against the United States.”
Congressman Massie also questioned the effectiveness of supporting the rebels.
“If the goal of arming and training so-called moderate Syrian rebels is to eliminate ISIS, the plan will not work,” said Massie. “Military experts know this, and the President acknowledged as much five weeks ago when he stated that the idea that arming rebels would have made a difference has ‘always been a fantasy.’”
Here’s Congressman Massie’s speech against intervention in the Syrian civil war.
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL)
I opposed the McKeon Amendment to the continuing resolution that authorizes aid to Islamist rebels in Syria when it passed the House today.
Congress failed to do anything to protect our nation from terrorist infiltration by the thousands of U.S. citizens and citizens of western nations who have joined ISIS. Nor did Congress do anything that would interdict the financing of ISIS or authorize our armed forces to destroy the personnel, equipment, and bases of ISIS. Instead, Congress authorized the President to give U.S. weapons to mujahideen fighters in Syria, the so-called moderate Islamist rebels. These mujahideen fighters are not dependable allies and will use the weapons to pursue their own interests. We cannot subcontract out our national security policies to Islamist rebels. The President’s strategy is insufficient to achieve success.
Here is Rep. DeSantis arguing that we should NOT arm the Syrian rebels. Moderate or otherwise.
You can see how your Congressman voted here.