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Ayotte and Syria

Jordan Bloom picked up [1] on an important contradiction in Kelly Ayotte’s CPAC speech:

While castigating the president for not intervening in Syria, Ayotte–who has called for arming the opposition–acknowledged that it is in part comprised of people the United States shouldn’t be associating with, let alone arming.

Ayotte’s position is inevitably confused because she wants to keep maintaining the fiction that it’s possible to arm only the “good” or acceptably “moderate” Syrian rebels without also helping to empower jihadist groups that are fighting alongside them. Then there is the other bad assumption that many interventionists hold that arming rebel groups will give the U.S. some measure of influence or control over them, when it will mostly just implicate the U.S. in whatever they choose to do with the weapons provided to them. It evidently doesn’t occur to Ayotte that the U.S. doesn’t need to take a side in the Syrian conflict. As a McCain protege, she automatically assumes that the U.S. must become involved whether or not that involvement will contribute to a desirable outcome.

Having just cited the spillover effects of intervention in Libya, which she supported, Ayotte urges the U.S. to make a similar mistake in Syria and once again she wants to interfere in a foreign conflict without considering the negative consequences. If Ayotte thinks that “leading from behind” in Libya was the wrong way to intervene, that suggests that she thinks the U.S. should have had some military presence in Libya after the war to secure the regime’s weapons, and it further implies that she thinks the U.S. should do the same thing to secure the Syrian regime’s arsenal. That would be an enormous and costly undertaking that may require as many as 75,000 soldiers [2]. That is something that I doubt she and other interventionists are willing to propose.

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5 Comments To "Ayotte and Syria"

#1 Comment By MBunge On March 15, 2013 @ 11:57 am

Daniel, how to you keep from pulling your hair out over folks like Ayotte who don’t even understand their own arguments? I’m not saying she’s stupid, but an awful lot of her kind of foreign policy “thinking” doesn’t go any deeper than memorizing the right slogans.


#2 Comment By Gordon Hanson On March 15, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

I say that the pooh-bahs in the Republican Party, the Lindsey Grahams and John McCains and Marco Rubios, should jettison their hawkishness, and that the party should hire Daniel Larison to give foreign policy tutorials to all Republicans in the House and Senate in Washington DC, and that he get paid what he would merit, which would be one hell of a lot of money. I know, I know, the likelihood of this happening any time soon is somewhere south of the chances of Barack Obama securing a third term in 2016. But it is a nice thought.

#3 Comment By KenI On March 15, 2013 @ 3:32 pm

Ditto to what Gordon said! All the great foreign policy minds left in the GOP are too old, or more concerned with Israel than what is best for America. It’s time to take back foreign policy from neocon control, otherwise the country will never trust Republicans to lead our nation again (it may already be too late).

#4 Comment By a spencer On March 15, 2013 @ 9:41 pm

Republicans want to make inroads with the electorate?


Its an albatross. For the majority in this country – which certainly doesn’t mean Democrat – CPAC simply re-affirms an expired brand.

#5 Comment By Ken_L On March 16, 2013 @ 5:31 am

Arm the Syrian rebels? Brilliant! Then in a few years the USA can go back to Iraq to suppress the anti-Maliki insurgency that is using American arms from the Syrian rebels.

Perpetual war everywhere, it’s the Republican way.