Recall from a few weeks ago that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, testified that he was in favor of arming the Syrian rebels in their fight to topple all-around asshole Bashar al-Assad. Former Obama National Security Advisor Jim Jones was also in favor of shipping weapons to Syria, provided that “you can identify where they’re going and you know who the people are.” The Center for American Progress issued a report arguing that we should arm the rebels if they institute tighter command organization and we can be sure we’re not arming terrorists. These caveats seemed like a bit of a sticking point to yours truly, since America hardly ever knows who’s who or what’s where when it comes to the Middle East, but as always I realize that I am just Some Dude on the Internet.
Well, then last week, one element of the rebellion, a group called Jabhat al-Nusrah, announced that it was “pledging allegiance” to, wait for it, al-Qaeda. Probably a good thing we hadn’t shipped any weapons over there yet, huh? So, today:
Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said on Wednesday that he is more reluctant to support arming Syria’s rebels than he had been previously, saying that the situation in Syria is “more confusing on the opposition side today than it was six months ago.”
With all due respect to General Dempsey, this is highly misleading. The situation in Syria “on the opposition side” is exactly the same today as it was six months ago. What’s changed is that we learned a little more about the folks we were planning on arming and now it doesn’t look so much like we should be arming them. Of course, he “added that he would support arming the rebels ‘if we could clearly identify the right people,'” which is meaningless because we can’t. We don’t know the players so we don’t know who “the right people” are, and even if we did there’s no way we could keep “the right people” from sharing our weapons with “the wrong people,” who are their allies, fighting right alongside them, once we’d sent the weapons over there. This is not a good idea.