We’ve heard the term “slippery slope” at least 10,972 times in recent days. Sometimes we should pay attention to cliches.
After more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Barack Obama says he’s directed the Central Intelligence Agency to start coordinating the supply of some sort of weapons to rebel factions in Syria.
Once again the United States risks injecting itself into the middle of a civil war in the Middle East and the unmitigated, centuries-old hatred between Sunnis and Shiites.
Obama is doing this out of guilt and compassion. At least 93,000 people have been murdered in Syria’s civil war on his watch, as rebels desperately fight to free themselves from the dictatorship of Bashar Hafez al-Assad.
The rebels are losing, and Hezbollah, Iran and Russia are helping the Syrian government with weapons, battle-hardened troops and vows of undying support.
Obama also worries about the impact of Syrian refugees and the possibility of a spillover of war into Jordan, a strategic ally. Many of Europe’s leaders want U.S. involvement. And Obama fears lack of action in Syria will convince Iran the United States will yield on its opposition to Iran’s ambition to be a nuclear power.
After being castigated by critics, most recently former President Bill Clinton, for not arming the rebels (Clinton is remorseful for not preventing the massacre in Rwanda), Obama indicates a political solution for Syria may not be in sight and he’s changed his mind about not arming the rebels. The spur, he says, is evidence Assad killed at least 150 Syrians with chemical weapons.
Obama has no intention, thus far, to seek a vote in Congress. He cautions against seeing his decision as any sort of plan to get into another war, arguing America’s goal is to stop the war in Syria.