Getting involved in Syria fight wrong path

The next Middle East conflict, Syria, into which the United States is about to inject itself, is fraught with peril. It is difficult to justify joining this fight.
At issue is President Obama’s decision to arm the rebels fighting the regime of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad.
While the decision purportedly would involve small arms and, quite possibly, back-channel advice on military tactics, the president’s decision has raised concerns across the American political spectrum.
Republicans suggest putting rifles and other arms into the hands of the rebels isn’t enough. They are clamoring for the imposition of a no-fly zone over Syria, similar to what we did two years ago in Libya.
Democrats allied with the president are raising even more dire concerns about getting involved in another sectarian civil war muddied up by support from al-Qaida terror groups and Iran.
The only common-sense involvement we can find is not what is proposed, but it should be for the United States to concentrate on shoring up its allies bordering Syria. Jordan, one of this nation’s most reliable Arab allies in the Middle East, comes to mind first.
Jordanians are feeling the pressure of this conflict, as thousands of Syrians have fled the battlefield in their own country to relatively safe havens in Jordan and Turkey.
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, raised many compelling concerns Tuesday in a powerful Senate floor speech.
Udall acknowledged that the “Assad regime is cruel and corrupt. But many of the groups fighting him do not share our values and could be worse. They may pose long-term risk to us and to our allies. Assad’s enemies may very well be America’s enemies. The fact is, we do not know.”
Therein rests the chief concern about providing weapons for this internecine warfare. Who will get these arms? What will they do with them? What guarantees can we obtain that they won’t turn those weapons — should they win control of the country — on people allied with the United States such as Jordan or Turkey or Israel?
History tells us of the danger of arming insurgents in that region. We did that in Afghanistan in the 1980s when fighters rose up against occupiers from the Soviet Union. What happened when the Soviets withdrew and a political and military vacuum surfaced? A fundamentalist Islamic movement produced the Taliban, who in turn provided safe haven in Afghanistan to al-Qaida, led by a monstrous terrorist named Osama bin Laden.
America has been at war in the Middle East for more than a decade. Do we have the stomach for yet another war in that region of the world?
The answer is in recent political polls.
Oh, sure, politicians, President Obama included, profess to care little about polls. Yet we know that answer is duplicitous. They do care more when the numbers favor their stances. In this case, a Gallup Poll taken June 15-16 revealed that 54 percent of Americans oppose Obama’s decision to send direct military aid to the Syrian rebels.
Yes, we have an interest in creating and keeping the peace in the Middle East. Getting involved in another fight that is more an internal battle between factions is the wrong path toward being a peacekeeper.

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