Here’s Why Arming the Syrian Rebels Is a Bad Idea

Ah crap. A couple of months ago, President Obama caved in to the hawks and announced $127 million in “nonlethal” aid to the Syrian rebels. Today he caved in again and trotted out Ben Rhodes to announce a further escalation. We’ll now be sending some decidedly lethal aid to the rebels:

The United States has concluded that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in its fight against opposition forces, and President Obama has authorized direct U.S. military support to the rebels, the White House said Thursday…Rhodes did not detail what he called the expanded military support, but it is expected initially to consist of light arms and ammunition. He said the shipments would be “responsive to the needs” expressed by the rebel command.

The next step, of course, is to cave in to the hawks and send the rebels the antitank and antiaircraft weaponry they want. I figure, what? Another couple of months before Obama decides to do that? Then the no-fly zone. Then…something else.

The official justification for the new arms shipments is verification of some “small scale” use of sarin gas by the Assad regime. However, the real justification seems to be this:

After weeks of efforts to organize a conference at which the Assad government and the opposition were to negotiate a political transition, the administration is now slowing down that effort, fearful that if it were held now, Mr. Assad would be in too strong a position to make any concessions…Now, an administration official said, the focus will switch from setting a date to fortifying the rebels before they sit across the table from the government.

Great. So now we’re committed to continuing escalation until Assad cries uncle and agrees to come to the table. That strategy doesn’t have a sterling track record.

This seems like a good time to embed this video of Fareed Zakaria explaining why it’s such a bad idea to intervene in Syria. This isn’t just the usual anti-intervention shtick, either. It’s a broad overview of who’s who and why Syria’s civil war is likely to last a very long time indeed. It’s well worth five minutes of your time.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.