Doomed to repeat history: Funding Syrian rebels could create another Libya-like foreign policy crisis

Originally posted here.

Watching history repeat itself was not enough for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

The senator from Kentucky took the stage yesterday morning and didn’t stop talking until he made sure the public and the empty chamber had listened to his concerns.

During his remarks on the floor of the Senate, Paul highlighted his reasons to oppose the amendment authorizing president Obama’s plan to provide training and arms to what he calls moderate rebels in Syria. The plan passed both the House and the Senate as an amendment to the continuing resolution funding the government until December 11.

Before the vote, however, Paul raised and urged the empty chamber to put an end to Obama’s plan of arming fighters in Syria who have not proven to be fundamentally opposed to ISIS. “We gave 600 tons of weapons to the Syrian rebels in 2013 alone,” Paul said as he urged his colleagues to keep in mind that the United States is not the only country providing weapons to the rebels.

According to Paul, a Wall Street Journal report detailed “millions of dollars in direct US aid to rebels” from “nearly 8 months ago or more.” As the aid continues to be funneled to rebels in Syria, Paul claims that “no one really knows where that all ended up: Jane’s Terrorism Center noted, the transfer of Quatari arms to targeted groups has the same practical effect as shipping them to Al Nusra, a violent jihadist force.”

By not knowing where these weapons are going and who’s actually making use of the military training, Paul believes passing a resolution that will fund this operation abroad in the hopes that that it might deter ISIS is ludicrous:

“The rebels have been all over the map. There are said to be 1500 different rebel groups. The largest coalition other than ISIS, Al Quada and Al Nusra, all jihadist extremists, is the FSA— which has three people who claim to be the leader.”

Before Congress could have voted consciously on authorizing President Obama’s plan to arm and train anybody in the Middle East — Paul rightly pointed out — certain questions must be answered.

If now ISIS is a threat, he reminded his colleagues that “[t]his administration and its allies on both sides of the aisle in seeking perpetual war, last year wanted the United States to join this war on the side of ISIS, against the Assad regime.” The group that claims to be fighting on our side now might be the group fighting us in the future should we continue to interfere with a civil war that is not ours to fight.

While making his point, Paul took those listening to a brief walk down memory lane, reminding us that “if there is one theme that connects the dots in the Middle East, it is that chaos breeds terrorism.” He continued:

“What much of the foreign policy elite fails to grasp is that intervention to topple secular dictators has been the prime source of that chaos. From Hussein to Assad to Ghaddafi we have the same history.”

We are getting entangled in a conflict that has nothing to do with fighting terrorism and Obama “now wishes to bomb ISIS and arm their Islamic allies in Syria.” Paul is right, the Emperor has no clothes, and as usual, only few can see it.


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