McCain's third-rate escapade in Syria
By Ralph R. Reiland
Published: Sunday, June 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
“Third-rate men, of course, exist in all countries, but it is only here that they are in full control of the state,” wrote H.L. Mencken in his 1922 essay, “On Being an American.”
A current case of third-rate performance is the surprise visit by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., with the rebels in Syria opposing President Bashar al-Assad's regime and McCain's call for the United States to become more militarily immersed in that dysfunctional nation's increasingly bloody civil war.
A critic of President Obama's apparent reluctance to get more involved in another war in the Middle East, McCain charged that Obama's “red line” on Syria is written in “disappearing ink.”
A failure by the U.S. to get more involved in Syria, argues McCain, will further destabilize the region, as if the previous, enormously costly U.S. interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have resulted in increased stability.
Meeting with rebel leaders, McCain was accompanied on his trip by the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, Gen. Salim Idris.
“We need American help to have change on the ground,” said Idris. “We are now in a very critical situation. What we want from the U.S. government is to (make) the decision to support the Syrian revolution with weapons and ammunition, anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft weapons.”
Last Thursday, Assad announced in a television interview that “Syria has received the first shipment of Russian anti-aircraft S-300 rockets. The rest of the shipment will arrive later today.”
With the U.S. federal debt already at $16.8 trillion (more than 100 percent of GDP), not counting the unfunded liabilities of Medicare, Social Security and other outsized federal obligations (taking the red ink to $90 trillion, or over 500 percent of GDP), there was nothing in the news of McCain's trip about the senator making a surprise stop in Riyadh to ask the Saudis to pick up the tab for the Syrian rebels' anti-aircraft weapons — and nothing from McCain about how pitting American anti-aircraft weapons against Russian anti-aircraft rockets would help stabilize the region or the world.
There also was nothing from McCain about the likelihood of U.S. weapons supplied to the rebels in Syria finding their way into the ranks of al-Qaida and other anti-Western Islamic extremists, as occurred with weapons sent by the U.S. to the mujahedin “freedom fighters” opposing the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.
And there's this from The Guardian in London: “Horrific video of a Syrian rebel commander eating the heart or lung of a dead government soldier has aroused furious international controversy, fueling an already heated debate over Western support for the armed uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.”
The proud perpetrator, Khaled al-Hamad, aka Abu Sakkar, said he also has footage of himself sawing a Syrian government soldier into “small and large pieces.”
On May 30, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the U.S.-funded news organization, reported that the leader of the strongest anti-Assad jihadist group in Syria, the Al-Nusra Front, had “pledged his allegiance to al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri, who has a $25 million bounty on his head.”
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur (email@example.com).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates trade for Mets first baseman Davis
- Latrobe woman texts searchers in Linn Run State Park to tell them she’s OK
- Orpik: Penguins must keep their cool
- Penguins’ Bylsma wants Cup version of Letang
- Alvarez struggles as Pirates fall short against Brewers
- Survivors in critical condition a day after fifth Armstrong County car crash victim dies
- RiverQuest short of money, looks for a partner
- Engineer made most of opportunities in U.S.
- City’s efforts bolstered to track illegal dumping
- Former Mystic Inn burns in Republic, Fayette County
- Rossi: Pens sticking to power-play plan