The Republican foreign policy agenda in the new year promises to be lousy:
Authorizations to send heavy weapons to Ukrainian forces battling pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine and sophisticated arms to moderate opposition rebels in Syria have “languished on the Senate floor” over the past two years because Majority Leader Harry Reid “wouldn’t let them through,” said one senior adviser to a key Republican lawmaker.
Those initiatives “will now go for up-or-down votes,” once Sen. Mitch McConnell assumes the majority leadership post and key committee chairmanships are filled by GOP critics of the Obama administration’s foreign policy — such as Sen. John McCain helming the Senate Committee on Armed Services, the adviser said.
Increasing aid to Syria’s rebels is likely to be among the first priorities [bold mine-DL].
None of this is surprising, but it is still remarkable how the Republicans would choose to start off their new Senate majority by confirming so quickly why they can’t be trusted with power. Throwing more weapons at the conflict in Ukraine is worse than useless, since it will encourage the Ukrainian government to fight a war it can’t win and will make the conflict that much harder to resolve. The new Senate majority leader can bring this measure to a vote, but Obama would be a fool to sign anything they send him on this. Sending more arms to the Syrian opposition is more ridiculous than ever in light of Jabhat al-Nusra’s recent capture of weapons that had already provided to “moderate” rebel groups. If the U.S. sends more arms and supplies to the “moderate” opposition, it will likely just be a matter of time before that aid ends up in the wrong hands.
In addition to being wrong on the merits, the Senate GOP is closely identifying itself with deeply unpopular positions. A majority is against arming Syrian rebels now, just as a majority has been against this for the last several years. Americans have also been against sending arms to Ukraine since the early stages of the conflict. Besides being foolish and irresponsible, the hawks’ solution of throwing weapons at every problem that arises overseas has very little popular support.