From The Wall Street Journal:
Obama Proposes $500 Million to Aid Syrian Rebels
Program to Train and Equip Moderate Opposition Would Expand U.S. Role in Civil War
By Julian E. Barnes, Adam Entous and Carol E. Lee | Updated June 26, 2014 8:59 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON—The White House on Thursday proposed a major program to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels, in a significant expansion of the U.S. role in a civil war that officials fear is bleeding into Iraq and across the region.
The Obama administration requested $500 million—a larger amount than expected—to aid the Syrian opposition, reflecting growing U.S. alarm at the expanding strength of Islamist forces in Syria, who in recent weeks have asserted control of large parts of neighboring Iraq and now pose threats to U.S. allies in the region.
Coming on the heels of a decision to send 300 military advisers to Iraq, the Syrian rebel training elevates the U.S. role in the Middle East.
The proposal amounts to a major U-turn by the administration, which had sought until now to limit its involvement in the war.
However, the expanded U.S. involvement will be on President Barack Obama’s terms, by emphasizing the use of partner forces, and not the direct use of American combat forces.
More at the original. But the big red flag for me is, “The White House on Thursday proposed a major program to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels.” The rather obvious question is: are there any “moderate Syrian rebels?” Another obvious question would be, is there any such thing as a moderate rebel?
Moderates are, by definition, the split-the-differences, the find-the-common-ground types. They are the last people to take up arms, not the first, and definitely not the leadership types.
I have previously stated that I’d support arming the rebels, as long as it wasn’t to the point where they could win, in order to prolong the fighting, to cost the eventual winners so much blood and treasure that they’d have nothing left for foreign adventurism after they won, and perhaps that’s what the Obama Administration would actually do. But whenever I read that we are looking for the “moderates” in the region, I think back to President Reagan’s attempts to find and deal with the Iranian moderates in the arms-for-hostages fiasco.
I’m betting that this will not end well.