On Monday GOP nominee Mitt Romney gave a foreign policy speech at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia and said that the U.S. must join in helping to arm Syrian rebels to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad. We have been informed that many of those Syrian rebels are, in fact, members of the terrorist organization Al Qaeda.
In attempting to show himself as a strong foreign policy leader, Romney again puts forth the notion that we should be aiding rebels to overthrow another government. Apparently we have learned nothing in the past five decades of intervening in other nation’s business.
He said, he would help to organize those who share American values, whatever that might be, “ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters and fighter jets.”
“It is essential that we develop influence with those forces in Syria that will one day lead a country that sits at the heart of the Middle East,” Romney said.
Romney aides claim that he was not calling for the U.S. to directly arm the rebels. However, the London Guardian had released leaked excerpts from the speech in which they said “Mitt Romney will call for an escalation of the conflict in Syria by arming rebels with the heavy weapons needed to confront president Bashar al-Assad’s tanks, helicopters and fighter jets.”
In a wide-ranging address at the Virginia Military Institute, Romney attempted to establish an image for voters of himself as a man who would be a strong commander in chief. In his remarks, he criticized Obama’s policies toward Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Israel.
Nowhere did he emphasize a different course as strongly as in Syria. Romney cast the civil war there as a proxy conflict with Iran — and said it’s in America’s interest to court an opposition likely to play a key role in leading a future Syria.
Activists say more than 32,000 people have died in Syria’s conflict, which began 19 months ago with Assad’s government cracking down on protests. That crackdown was followed by armed rebellion in many parts of the country and, eventually, a full-scale civil war.
Obama’s administration still seeks a peaceful political transition, even though the president acknowledged in August that the likelihood of a soft landing for the conflict “seems pretty distant.”
“I will work with our partners to identify and organise those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets,” he said.
“I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy. We cannot support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds,” Romney said.
The problem in all of this is, though he claims to sort out the people who hold to American values and help them, he has yet to define what American values are and if it is democracy, well that is not an American value. We are a republic, not a democracy. There is a huge difference. This is why whenever we go in and take over some place, say Afghanistan or Iraq or any other place and install democracy and the people vote, they end up with very similar leadership.
Many of these that would end up being armed, no matter how careful one would be, are members of Al Qaeda. Back in July, The Guardian reported that many of these “Syrian” rebels were Al-Qaeda:
As they stood outside the commandeered government building in the town of Mohassen, it was hard to distinguish Abu Khuder’s men from any other brigade in the Syrian civil war, in their combat fatigues, T-shirts and beards.
But these were not average members of the Free Syrian Army. Abu Khuder and his men fight for al-Qaida. They call themselves the ghuraba’a, or “strangers”, after a famous jihadi poem celebrating Osama bin Laden’s time with his followers in the Afghan mountains, and they are one of a number of jihadi organisations establishing a foothold in the east of the country now that the conflict in Syria has stretched well into its second bloody year.
They try to hide their presence. “Some people are worried about carrying the [black] flags,” said Abu Khuder. “They fear America will come and fight us. So we fight in secret. Why give Bashar and the west a pretext?” But their existence is common knowledge in Mohassen. Even passers-by joke with the men about car bombs and IEDs.
According to Abu Khuder, his men are working closely with the military council that commands the Free Syrian Army brigades in the region. “We meet almost every day,” he said. “We have clear instructions from our [al-Qaida] leadership that if the FSA need our help we should give it. We help them with IEDs and car bombs. Our main talent is in the bombing operations.” Abu Khuder’s men had a lot of experience in bomb-making from Iraq and elsewhere, he added.
Romney went on to speak of Afghanistan. “The route to more war – and to potential attacks here at home – is a politically timed retreat that abandons the Afghan people to the same extremists who ravaged their country and used it to launch the attacks of 9/11.”
Actually the route to more war is our troops continuing to stay over there. There was a time to deal with Afghanistan. That time has come and gone. The people our military are training are now killing their trainers and the incidents are escalating. America has no business in either of these situations. We have no business in Iraq and we have no business starting anything up in Iran either.
Our leaders have learned nothing of the wisdom from the father of the our country. George Washington warned about sticking our nose where it didn’t belong. He said,
“Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens,) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove, that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government. But that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defence against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.”
For those that find this difficult to understand, I’ll make it very simple: Washington was simply saying “Mind your own business. Don’t get involved in other nations’ affairs.” I’d say that is good advice, since neither party’s leaders don’t seem to have learned that lesson in the past.
With that said, a strong national defense is a good thing. In fact, it is Constitutional, but aiding rebels in foreign nations is not what we should be engaged in, especially when many of them are members of a group we have deemed to be terrorists. We should not be aiding rebels to overthrow other governments with taxpayer money either. We’ve done this on several occasions and it eventually comes back to bite us.
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