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Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) has a suggestion for the US Congress: Stop arming terrorists. It seems like a pretty reasonable suggestion, but the US Congress is having none of it.
Instead, they’ve decided to launch of a series of increasingly shrill and hysterical attacks on her for meeting with the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, during her fact-finding trip to Damascus and Aleppo.
Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) characterized her meeting as a “shame and a disgrace”. According to Kinzinger, a “member of Congress” should never “meet with a guy that has killed 500,000 people and 50,000 children”.
Putting aside the dubious nature of Kinzinger’s assertion (apparently the rebels share no blame for what’s happening in Syria), the sincerity of his outrage is seriously suspect considering his own willingness to pal around with the dictator in Saudi Arabia.
Apparently, it’s perfectly okay to legitimate a brutally repressive regime that is currently slaughtering and starving thousands upon thousands of Yemeni civilians, including children. And, lest we forget, Saudi Arabia is the country that gave America fifteen of the nineteen hijackers who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks.
This dissonance is important to note because US politicians like Kinzinger have never had a real problem with dictators and autocrats. What matters most to people like Kinzinger is not a government’s willingness to promote democracy and human rights, but its willingness to commit whatever acts the US government may require of it, even if that means crushing democracy and brutally repressing human rights like the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia does.
But the most reprehensible thing about Kinzinger’s shrill antics is not his blazing hypocrisy and opportunism, but his utter unwillingness to address the charges being leveled by Tulsi Gabbard. Kinzinger has adroitly sidestepped those charges precisely because he cannot refute them.
Of course, the conventional wisdom surrounding the US government’s ongoing support for the rebels in Syria characterizes them as “moderates”. This characterization is so chimerical as to be utterly meaningless. “Moderate” in regards to what, exactly? Eating people’s organs? Chopping children’s heads off?
However, the reality is that the “moderate” rebels, if they ever existed, have all but disappeared from the field, most of them defecting to or integrating with AQ and ISIS or simply deserting, but not before selling their US-supplied weaponry to a Jihadist. Maybe that’s why the US government is having such a difficult time finding moderate rebels to train?
In 2014, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) made one of the most forceful and comprehensive arguments detailing why the US government should stop providing support to these amorphous Syrian rebel groups.
Among the reasons he gave were the Syrian Christian community’s strong support for Assad’s secular government.
But it’s not just the Syrian Christians who would be remiss to see Assad go. Even the Syrian Kurds, who have had a troublesome relationship with the Assad government over the years, aren’t eager to see him removed from power by the rebels, describing it as a potential “disaster”.
Most important of all, however, is the Syrian people themselves, most of whom tend to sympathize with the Assad government.
In spite of all this, the US political class insists on clinging to their “Assad must go” mantra and their “moderate” rebel fictions. It’s Iraq and Libya all over again. The US government has decided, yet again, to remove a secular autocrat and his nationalist regime based on nebulous rationales and the flimsiest of pretexts. Even worse, they have escalated tensions with a nuclear-armed power, Russia, in order to push this dubious agenda.
Tulsi Gabbard, in standing up to these inveterate war mongers, is doing the country and the world a great service. As realists and non-interventionists, we must stand with her and with the Syrian people who are being victimized by the imperialist ambitions of a rapacious American political class.