As Barack Obama jetted to St. Petersburg, Russia for the G20 summit, Vladimir Putin went as far as to call out John Kerry on his “lies” about the true nature of the anti-Assad rebels in Syria.
If you will recall, Secretary of State John Kerry testified on Capitol Hill the other day that it's “basically not true” that the rebels have been infiltrated by al Qaeda. Kerry went on to explain, “The opposition has increasingly become more defined by its moderation, more defined by the breadth of its membership and more defined by its adherence to some, you know, democratic process and to an all-inclusive, minority-protecting constitution, which will be broad-based and secular with respect to the future of Syria.” This and other similar comments by Kerry left some like House Homeland Security Committee chairman Mike McCaul “stunned.”
Putin says that he's been watching these debates and testimony in Congress and called out Kerry for what he believes is a false interpretation of the situation in Syria. Putin explains, “The principal combative unit [among the Syrian rebels] is the so-called Nusra, which is an al-Qaeda unit. And they know this. I even felt quite awkward. We are communicating with them and assume that they are decent people and he is telling an outright lie. He knows that he is lying. This is sad.”
Wow, so not only do we have an impotent president but a Secretary of State who is being called a liar on the world stage. And complicating matters even further is a comment by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in which he accused Russia of supplying chemical weapons to Syria. Russia has denounced this as a “blatant lie.”
Why Kerry would go to such lengths to contort the true nature of the rebels in Syria is beyond me. Much of the discussion surrounding military action in Syria has been surrounding the issue of the rebels. While Assad is a bad actor, who is to say that the rebels would be any better? This is because of intelligence reports which have shown that the opposition has now been infiltrated by radical Islamic jihadists, with the strongest group being the al Qaeda-tied al Nusra front. Why would the United States want to support a potential al Qaeda regime, should Assad fall? I mean, let's take a look at some of the stories that have come out just today about these rebels that John Kerry seems so anxious to support:
Associated Press: Al Qaeda-linked Rebels Attack Christian Village
New York Times: Brutality of Syrian Rebels Posing Dilemma in West
Global Research: US-Backed Terrorists Behead 24 Syrians Including Baby
Are these the kind of people that the United States is eager to go to war with? Not if I were in charge. Just like I warned of radical regime change in Egypt (the Muslim Brotherhood), I believe Syria will suffer a similar fate. And while moderate, secular rebels do exist – such as the Free Syrian Army – even their leaders have come out and basically said that they are willing to work with anyone (including violent jihadists) in order to topple the Assad regime. But don't expect the lapdog Obama-mania media to report on the radical nature of the Syrian rebels. A new Media Research Center report shows that 94% of stories by the major networks fail to mention al Qaeda's presence in Syria.
So our own government can't even be straight with us about the nature of the rebels we would essentially be supporting by getting involved in Syria. Then there is the question of whether or not the United States is absolutely sure that Assad was even the one who ordered the use of chemical weapons. I'm not saying I agree with this theory, but there are enough people calling into question the certainty of our assertion. Russia says it has a 100-page report with evidence that it was the rebels and not Assad who used chemical weapons earlier this year. It is warning the United States not to jump to conclusions about the latest attack. While I'm not saying we should trust the Russians, Barack Obama needs to make the case to the American people with definitive proof that Assad was the perpetrator. That still doesn't necessarily justify action in Syria, but it would be a start. Then he can try and convince us that it is in our national security interests to act.
So where do we stand? Yesterday the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a resolution (10-7) approving of action in Syria. The votes were mixed, with some Republicans like John McCain voting for it and others like Rand Paul and Marco Rubio voting against it. It would give Obama 90 days to act, with the purpose of degrading Assad's chemical weapons capabilities. While the resolution prohibits boots-on-the-ground for “combat operations,” there is no mention of troops for the purposes of securing chemical weapons arsenals. Reid may call the Senate back earlier to begin the process of bringing the resolution to the floor by mid-week next week. But then there's the House to consider, where it could be weeks before anything happens there. Getting approval won't be as easy as some would imagine.
If it fails, the question then becomes: Will Barack Obama still act, as he has already claimed the authority to do so without Congress? After all, Obama went to great lengths yesterday to convince us that this wasn't his red line and that his credibility was not on the line. Instead, we can blame this on Congress, the world and humanity if nothing is done. Never mind the fact that it was Obama himself who drew that red line in an off-teleprompter moment last August. Here's a question I've heard many people ask in response to Obama's red line comment yesterday: If the world set this red line, where is the world now?
But at some point, we will have to look at the timing of all this debate on Syria. Let's not forget that we have the continuing resolution to fund the government, which has to pass by September 30th. Two things are important to consider in that debate: Sequestration cuts as we consider going to war and the battle to defund ObamaCare. With all the focus on Syria, we have some huge domestic battles to be waged as well.
As I have done for the last few days, here is some more reading on the showdown in Syria: