Senators Want Debate on Arming Syrian Rebels
Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee have joined Democratic Senator Tom Udall and Chris Murphy in calling for a debate on whether or not the US should get involved in the Syrian civil war by arming and training rebels battling the regime of Bashir Assad.
Speaking Friday with MSNBC's Chris Jansing about President Obama's decision last week to give weapons to Syrian rebels, Murphy said, "Let's just have a full debate about this in the United States Senate. I mean, whether or not this is an act of war or not, the president shouldn't just do this without the American public getting to have a full debate."
The group has introduced a bill that would ban direct or indirect aid for military and paramilitary operations in Syria, but would not prevent further humanitarian aid. Just as with Libya, the senators believe that Congress needs to authorize any involvement in Syria, and each have called for debate on the subject along with Murphy.
Paul: "The American people deserve real deliberation by their elected officials before we send arms to a region rife with extremists who seek to threaten the U.S. and her allies."
Lee: "Any military involvement in Syria, including the arming of Syrian rebels, needs to be authorized through Congress, where concerns can be publicly debated and the American people can have a say."
Udall: "We need to place a check on the President's unilateral decision to arm the rebels, while still preserving humanitarian aid and assistance to the Syrian people, and that is why I'm introducing this bill."
The president is already training Syrian rebels in Jordan, according to CBS News:
Since late last year, the CIA has been training small numbers of Syrian rebels at secret bases in Turkey and Jordan, CBS News has confirmed.
The training has included the use of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, which have been provided by Arab countries, and which the rebels say they badly need to counter the firepower of the Syrian army.
So far, you'd have to say the training hasn't succeeded, since in the past several weeks, the tide of battle has turned in favor of the government forces.
And the administration is gearing up for assisting the rebels by increasing our troops and equipment in Jordan:
"The total comes to about 1,000" troops, up from about 250 personnel that have been in place for months, a US defense official told AFP, on condition of anonymity.
Roughly 700 troops that had deployed to Jordan for a major joint exercise, which ended this week, will remain on the ground, the official said. Another unit was also in place performing some training, said the official, without providing details.
The Pentagon on Saturday announced that F-16 fighter jets and a Patriot missile battery would stay in Jordan after having been sent there for the Eager Lion military exercise.
The United States is concerned about a possible spillover of violence from Syria to its southern neighbor Jordan, a key US ally and one of only two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel.
Jordan is struggling to cope with nearly a half million Syrian refugees, and its territory will likely serve as a conduit for weapons that Washington has said it will supply to the rebels battling against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Debate? We don't need no steeenking debate, says Obama. We're about to wade hip deep into a conflict that is hardly about who's going to be the new butcher leading Syria. The conflict has morphed into the biggest clash between Islam's two major sects in centuries. They're preaching from the mosques in Shia Iraq to join Assad in beating back the Sunni threat while Sunni imams in the Gulf States are urging their flock to join with their co-religionists in defeating Assad.
And here comes Obama, running toward this gasoline dump with a lit match.
Before we blow up this part of the world, it might be a good thing to have a debate about it.