David Gregory just had Lindsey Graham, Andrea Mitchell, and David Ignatius on “Meet the Press” to discuss U.S. involvement in the Syrian Civil War — or the lack thereof. It was a textbook example of why Americans have completely lost faith in Washington.
The round-table focused on President Obama’s plans to start (openly) arming Syrian rebels in light of intelligence concluding that Assad used chemical weapons (killing a grand total of about 150 people in a conflict that has seen over 90,000 die). Graham blasted the President for dawdling and said that our goal “should be to make sure that Assad leaves,” by aiding rebels with a no-fly zone and heavy weaponry. He simultaneously argued that we must enter this conflict to stop the extremists we’ve effectively been helping by calling for Assad’s immediate ouster since August 2011.
Gregory, Ignatius, and Mitchell did little to challenge Graham’s assertions. They lobbed him softball questions about what happens if Assad wins — a platform for Graham to fearmonger over Hezbollah and Iran. The quartet paid lip service to the idea that a negotiated settlement is ideal in this situation, but seemed content with Graham’s theory that “Assad has to go to get a political solution” — paying no mind to the fact that he still has significant support, that the rebels themselves have also committed atrocities, and that intervention could prolong the conflict and would inevitably make it even more complicated.
Mitchell, it should be noted, did mention how U.S. intelligence on weapons of mass destruction lacks credibility after the Iraq debacle. But she didn’t mention how, if true, the intel report is a total canard, covering about 0.15 percent of all fatal casualties in the conflict. Weapons of mass destruction they aren’t.
And speaking of Iraq, the group made no mention of important regional actors in this conflict. The country we “shocked and awed” ten years ago, that shining model for U.S. intervention, is currently hosting renewed sectarian bloodshed fueled by the Syrian conflict. Major rebellion booster and U.S. ally Saudi Arabia also went unmentioned, despite the kingdom’s penchant for financing extremism. Just the usual kowtowing to Israel, and vague fears about the Jordanian monarchy collapsing. For some reason, Graham also alluded to post-Mubarak Egypt to exemplify Obama’s foreign policy failures, despite the fact that Egyptian President Mohammaed Morsi’s policy toward Syria is in alignment with Graham’s.
Appropriately enough, after the discussion wrapped up, it was followed, in the DC area, by an ad from Boeing — the military contractor employs 6,546 people in Graham’s state.
It was a not so subtle reminder that ending the carnage and suffering isn’t Washington’s priority. As I reported for Truthout, Syrian opposition members pushing a plan that focuses on an immediate negotiated settlement were pretty thoroughly ignored when they were on Capitol Hill and in Foggy Bottom a few months ago. Perhaps this was because legislators like Senator Graham just salivate at the idea of Assad’s departure at all costs, especially if we involve our military.
The American people, however, have no appetite for such nonsense. Almost 7 out of 10 of those polled oppose military intervention. Washington isn’t listening.