Today Congress will vote on the McKeon Amendment, a piece of legislation most Americans haven't heard of. But the consequences of the vote today are grave: funding Syrian "rebels" will precipitate a new and wider war in the Middle East. Here are eight reasons why Congress should vote NO on the McKeon Amendment:
1. It is a waste of money.
We'd be on the hook for a projected $21 billion price tag over three years. The Pentagon plans to train 5,000 rebels in the next year, which at $1 million for each soldier could cost up to $15 billion dollars over the three-year war. The nearly 2,000 U.S. troops in Iraq will cost $6 billion over three years.
The last Iraq War added at least $5 trillion to the long-term deficit.
2. There are no "moderates."
Historian Alastair Crooke, writing about the connection between Saudi Arabia and ISIS, recently described "moderate" insurgents in Syria as being "rarer than a mythical unicorn." "Moderates" have a non-aggression pact with ISIS. "Moderates" captured an American journalist and sold him to ISIS, who beheaded him. Saudi Arabia, which, with Qatar funded the jihadists in Syria, is now offering to "train" the rebels. Congress is being asked to swallow this concoction: the sponsors of radical jihadists are going to train "moderate" jihadists.
3. The truth is, we don't know who we are training.
The so-called "rebels" are mercenaries who come from over 20 countries. They constantly organize and reorganize into new groups with allegiances to whoever is paying them or supplying them with arms at any given moment. The U.S. has supplied weapons to the Iraqi government and to Syrian rebels which have ended up in the hands of ISIS. As a result, the U.S. Air Force has been bombing Humvees and armored troop carriers purchased with U.S. taxpayer money. ISIS has large quantities of U.S.-made assault weapons and ammunition. Is the U.S. Treasury now their piggy bank?
4. Those receiving U.S. money will turn on us.
Since the U.S. began its war on Iraq in March of 2003, over 1,000,000 innocent Iraqis (4 percent of the population) have perished and trillions of dollars in damage has occurred. Iraqis were stripped of their homes, their jobs, their social networks, humiliated beyond words, their country ruined. This is why America cannot expect to find any friends in Iraq.
5. Our troops would be in peril from the "rebels" we train, pay, and equip.
Congress' own legislation, which would fund Syrian "rebels," predicts U.S. troops will be attacked by those we are training. The McKeon Amendment, to be voted on today, anticipates so-called green-on-blue attacks and requires reports to be made and statistics to be kept on such attacks.
6. Congress is being kept in the dark.
No one is saying what the end game is here. Is the real end game to partition Iraq, between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, to help Western oil companies deal more profitably with the Kurds? Is it to partition Syria between Sunnis, Shiites and Alawites, including the establishment of a new Sunni Caliphate which combines territory in Iraq and Syria? And why was the administration so late in recognizing the plight of Christians who are a slowly vanishing presence in the region, thanks to the attacks by groups funded by the Saudis and Qataris?
7. A constitutional crisis is building.
The U.S. has already initiated a war without congressional authorization.
The Constitution requires that only Congress can commit the country to a state of war. Absent a declaration of war by Congress or a direct attack on the United States, the president does not have the power to take the country into war. Even (the constitutionally suspect) War Powers Act sets a 60 day limitation for unauthorized military action.
Article I of the U.S. Constitution, which created the Congress, is being shredded. The Framers of the Constitution were acutely aware of imperial abuse of power. That is why Congress was created in Article I, as a first among equals to the executive created by Article II. When any president of the United States ignores the constitutional imperative to abide by the proscriptions of Article I, that president violates the Oath of Office to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States" and risks impeachment for such conduct.
8. Congress has it backwards.
Congress should not vote to fund a war it has not declared. The Congress must first vote for war before it votes to provide money for a war.
This is the moment when Congress must redefine our national security and take a stand to preserve, protect and defend the United States Constitution. Congress must put an end to the administration's illegal interventions and misuse of the war power. Stop funding interventions and the overthrow of governments. Congress must put an end to perpetual war before the financial and social cost destroys our own nation. Congress can start today by denying funds and weapons to any and all groups or nations who have been or are in league with ISIS, its predecessors or its successors.