Monday, September 9, 2013

If Obama is not willing to target both the regime and the terrorists in Syria, then Congress should not approve military action

    Monday, September 09, 2013   No comments

by Marc A. Thiessen


Senator Ted Cruz says that in Syria, the United States military should not “serve as al-Qaeda’s air force.” He’s right.

Al-Qaeda has two major strategic objectives: to get control of a nation-state and to get control of weapons of mass destruction. President Obama’s inaction in Syria has brought them closer to accomplishing both objectives.

After announcing that Assad must go in August 2011, Obama dithered for two years. This created a power vacuum, which al-Qaeda has filled — pouring weapons and fighters into Syria, and carving out new safe havens where it controls territory and operates with impunity.

If the United States were to employ military force sufficient to topple Assad, there is now a danger that such an attack could help al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic radicals come to power in Damascus. This may be one reason why the administration is proposing limited, rather than decapitating, strikes against Assad.

But Assad does not have to fall for the terrorists to get their hands on his chemical stockpiles. He simply needs to be weakened enough that he cannot protect them. Al-Qaeda has successfully overrun government prisons in Iraq and military airfields in northern Syria. What is to stop them from overrunning Assad’s chemical weapons facilities? The United States has a vital national interest in making sure that does not happen.

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