Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican and head of the House Intelligence Committee, told the world Sunday that “I think that it is abundantly clear that that red line has been crossed” by Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people, and that small numbers of U.S. forces must be put on the ground in Syria to fend off impending chaos in that country.
“Our Arab League allies talk to us frequently, and they are as frustrated as I have seen them because of the lack of U.S. leadership,” Rogers said on “Face the Nation.” However, the Obama administration says it has no conclusive proof that chemical weapons have been used in the conflict.
That echoes demands made last week by Lindsey Graham and John McCain, both of whom insisted that President Obama intervene militarily in Syria, including using US troops.
“Absolutely, you’ve got to get on the ground,” Graham said. “There is no substitute for securing these weapons, I don’t care what it takes. We need partners in the region. But I’m here to say, if the choice is to send in troops to secure the weapons sites versus allowing chemical weapons to get in the hands of some of the most violent people in the world, I vote to cut this off before it becomes a problem.”
All three men have been pushing for U.S. military intervention against neighboring Iran, as well.
As the New York Times reports, the CIA is already playing a central role in facilitating major arms shipments to Syrian rebels from neighboring Islamic countries friendly to the United States, including Turkey:
“The American government became involved, the former American official said, in part because there was a sense that other states would arm the rebels anyhow. The C.I.A. role in facilitating the shipments, he said, gave the United States a degree of influence over the process, including trying to steer weapons away from Islamist groups and persuading donors to withhold portable antiaircraft missiles that might be used in future terrorist attacks on civilian aircraft.
American officials have confirmed that senior White House officials were regularly briefed on the shipments. “These countries were going to do it one way or another,” the former official said. “They weren’t asking for a ‘Mother, may I?’ from us. But if we could help them in certain ways, they’d appreciate that.”
Sitting back and watching the type of brutality under way in Syria is difficult and frustrating, and the time may yet come when intervention is required. But for the time being, Syria strikes me as the type of problem that must be managed because solving it is not an option. Should the United States intervene more directly, as it did in Libya, it also takes on greater military, diplomatic and humanitarian responsibility for what happens next in that country. And as we should have learned in Iraq, intervening without a clear plan for what comes next is a very bad idea.
– Jay Bookman