Should the U.S. arm Syrian rebels?
By: John Hampton
The U.S. government has been providing non-lethal aid to rebel forces in Syria, and just last month, Secretary of State Kerry said the U.S. was ready to increase that amount of aid to $250M. It is likely that the U.S. will soon be supplying the rebels with body armor, night vision goggles and armored vehicles. In addition to these items, the rebels are asking for weapons and ammunition, drone strikes, and the establishment of no-fly zones.
Senator John McCain met with rebel commanders in Syria last week. In those meetings, rebels again called for the U.S. to provide heavy weapons, no-fly zones and airstrikes against government strong holds and Hezbollah targets. Hezbollah, an Islamic militant group based in Lebanon, is becoming more active in Syria.
In my research for this article, I had no trouble finding 3 examples of heavy weapons already in use by Syrian rebels. In the first example, they are shown checking their anti-aircraft weapon. The second example is a video showing rebels using an American made, Vietnam era M40 106mm recoilless rifle. The final example is an article describing the heavy weaponry being used by the rebels. Weapons on the list include; mortars, rockets, tanks, cannons and even portable surface-to-air missiles, capable of downing Syrian aircraft.
This is indeed a panoply of powerful military hardware. The article referenced above in the final example, depicts how rebels are able to acquire functioning weapons in battle victories. They are also skilled enough to assemble potent and accurate makeshift weapons, from parts and pieces found on the battlefield.
The point I am attempting to make is that there is already an abundance of military hardware in use by, and available to, Syrian rebels. Why is it necessary for the U.S. to provide more? If our government decides to arm the rebels, I believe we will then be committed to this conflict, until it is brought to a close. I wonder, who would dictate the monetary amount we would give to this cause? Would the fact that our government is essentially bankrupt figure into the equation? Will “We the People” have any input regarding this issue?
What type of weapons would be given to the rebels? Would they receive our newest technology? Regardless of how they are equipped, they will not win every battle. Just as they confiscate weapons in their victories, so will U.S. weapons be confiscated in their losses! Would the amount of munitions given to the rebels be so large that it would cause a shortage for our own troops? Once in their possession, would the rebels be willing to barter their newly acquired weapons for political appointments, preferential treatment or personal comforts?
It would be impossible to ensure that not a single gun, bomb or bullet ended up in the hands of our enemies, and with the constant influx into Syria of those willing to wage jihad, it would also be impossible to know who the enemy was, or what banner they wrapped themselves in.
Even if the rebels are victorious, how long would they be able to stay in power? Would it be necessary for the U.S. to maintain a presence there to ensure that the newly crowned leaders were not themselves overthrown?
Many other questions exist. As in the ones posed above, there are no definite answers. The world is more hazardous and complex than ever before, and the current level of hatred toward the United States is immense. The lack of a vibrant and robust economy greatly limits our options, and we cannot forget that the Russians are heavily invested in Syria.
I understand that there is a humanitarian element involved, but I think it would be a disaster for our government to arm the Syrian rebels. Weapons alone will not ensure their victory. The addition of drone strikes will not ensure their victory. U.S. troops and advisors will be required on the ground! But our troops and our citizens are haggard from years of fighting, death and catastrophic wounds. I do not want to see our Military inserted into another chaotic and unpredictable environment where the enemy cannot be clearly defined, the rules of engagement are ambiguous, and the mission uncertain.
John Hampton lives in Tehachapi CA and is quite concerned about the policies and motives of the current Administration. He believes in a system that holds our freedoms sacred, promotes personal responsibility, prudence and high moral standards.