On Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz distilled the current debate over possible military action in Syria to its essential dilemma. While Syrian President Bashar Assad is certainly a ruthless dictator, the forces aligned against him are dominated by jihadis and elements of terrorist organizations. Cruz noted that Americans didn’t enlist in the military to “serve as Al-Qaeda’s Air Force.”
“We certainly don’t have a dog in the fight,” Cruz said, calling it a civil war in Syria. “We should be focused on defending the United States of America. That’s why young men and women sign up to join the military, not to, as you know, serve as Al Qaeda’s air force.”
Cruz noted that of the nine major rebel groups, seven have ties to Al-Qaeda. Cruz’s colleagues, Sens. McCain and Graham, are pushing the Obama Administration to arm rebel forces with heavy weapons. It is unclear how the US would ensure that its weapons would go exclusively to the “right” rebel forces. Even if they were, it is likely that any post-Assad regime would be dominated by elements loyal to Al-Qaeda.
“I’ll give you one of the simplest principles of foreign policy that we ought to be following,” Cruz said. “Don’t give weapons to people who hate you. Don’t give weapons to people who want to kill you.”