The Trump administration is reportedly ceasing the CIA’s support of Syrian rebels fighting against the Bashar al-Assad regime.
That proposal did not sit well with Washington’s foreign policy establishment.
In multiple tweets, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a well-known hawk, said the move, “would be a complete capitulation to Assad, Russia, and Iran.”
An anonymous government official told The Washington Post, which broke the news Wednesday, said the cession of funds would announce “Putin won in Syria.”
The Washington Post itself characterized the idea in its report as an abdication to the Kremlin that holds no promising benefit for America’s national interest.
There was much speculation that this change in policy was brought about by the previously undisclosed second meeting President Trump had with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit. The implication of that claim is that there was something nefarious in that deal that served Putin’s interest to build an evil empire.
The reaction from pundits and think tankers was sharply different to how they reacted to Trump launching a missile strike in April against an Assad-controlled airbase in retaliation for a purported chemical weapons attack. As CNN host Fareed Zakaria put it, “Donald Trump became president” when he attacked Assad.
Nobody from the foreign policy blob is now reiterating that sentiment after Wednesday. Instead, we now get doom and gloom about how we hurt our interests by “capitulating” to Russia and Iran.
But in reality, Trump pulling back aid for these rebels serves our national interest. For one, how has America’s support for these rebels benefited us over the past six years? Assad is still in power, and nearly all of the rebels have become hardened Islamists in the ensuing years.
The “moderate” Syrian rebel meme is no longer credible when the strongest opposition to the Assad regime at the moment are Salafists who wish to impose sharia law and align with the al-Qaeda-backed group formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra. (It’s now bigger and rebranded itself as Tahrir al-Sham in order to get off the U.S.’s terror list.)
While many in America media want to still pretend we’re backing armed hipsters who hope to bring the glory of liberal democracy to Syria, we’re actually helping out Sunni extremists who are just as guilty of horrific atrocities as the Assad regime. And the ideal government for these Salafists — if they gained power — would be in many ways worse than the present government.
Say goodbye to protections for Christians and other religious minorities. Say hello to another Sunni theocracy that gives aid to terrorists.
Additionally, a significant number of the weapons we have given to the rebels under the CIA program have made their way to ISIS. It’s hard to defend a program that helps supply our officially designated enemies so they can continue their jihad against us.
After the massive failures that resulted in intervening in Iraq and Libya, we should be wise not to trust these anti-government forces we keep believing are die-hard liberal democrats. In every case, they turn out to not be so. Libya is presently a failed state dominated by cruel warlords and Islamic fanatics. How is that an improvement from the Gaddafi regime?
The same situation would likely arise in Syria if Assad falls. How does it serve America’s interest to have a failed state full of jihadis in the heart of the Middle East?
The Trump administration’s move indicates that our government is beginning to learn lessons from the foreign policy failures of the last 20 years and shows a policy that places our national interest over that of the foreign policy blob’s. There is no point in America picking a side where both warring parties are equally as bad and the rebels we support may turn out be far worse than the government we see as evil.
It’s too late to turn back the clock and undo the error of the Libyan intervention. But we can take those lesson and work towards a solution to the Syrian civil war that works to our interest. One of the first steps in that process is discarding the delusion that there are any “moderate” Syrian rebels to support.