The Corner

Did We Learn Anything from Libya? To Take Obama’s Syria Strategy, No

We can’t delegate our warfighting to jihadists. 

The New York Times piece that Rich Lowry links to below makes for singularly depressing reading, and it illustrates that the Obama administration has learned nothing. We’re barely removed from a Libyan conflict featuring American air strikes in support of a rag-tag jihadist army, and now Libya is a jihadist playground, where our former “allies” kill our own ambassador and gleeful terrorists YouTube themselves swimming in our diplomats’ pool.

So, now, here we are again aiding rebel groups like the “Army of the Mujahideen” in a fight against other mujahideen while the Islamic State gathers its strength and mocks us with beheading after beheading.

Which moderate rebels will we arm? Will it be the rebels who’ve reportedly turned previous arms shipments over to Islamic State fighters? Or how about the rebels who reportedly reached a truce with the Islamic State? Or perhaps we’ll give arms to the guys who allegedly sold Steven Sotloff to his beheaders?

And I must confess that I’m confused about the “vetting” we’ll be able to do without boots on the ground in Syria. When I was in Iraq and we were equipping local Sunnis to join the ”Sons of Iraq” that helped turn the tide during the surge, we kept a very close watch on their activities with frequent meetings, frequent patrols, and surprise visits and inspections. We lived with real concern that they’d turn against us and took steps to make sure that didn’t happen. If we don’t have combat troops in Syria, how can we take similar precautions?

Congress should reject any appropriation request that includes arming even “vetted” Syrian jihadists. Instead, it should tell our commander-in-chief that our national defense is best left to the world’s best-trained and most professional fighting force, operating in conjunction only with proven allies (like the Kurds).

To paraphrase a popular rallying cry from early in our national life: billions for defense, but not one cent for jihad.


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