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Why Did Obama Request $500 Million For a 'Fantasy' In Syria?

12:02 PM, Aug 13, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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Frederic Hof, a former State Department adviser in the Obama administration, writes in Politico magazine about President Obama's dismissive opinion about arming Syrian rebels in 2012 as a "fantasy." Here's an excerpt:

No doubt the president is sensitive to the charge that his rejection of the 2012 recommendation by his national security team to arm and equip nationalist Syrian rebels robustly has contributed significantly, if inadvertently, to ISIL’s growth in both Syria and Iraq. His comments to Friedman implicitly dismiss the 2012 recommendation itself as a fantasy, but as Secretary Clinton’s Syria adviser I was a member of the administration at that time. The recommendation, in one form or another, was offered not only by Clinton, but by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, CIA Director David Petraeus and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey. Yet the president, ignoring decades of universal conscription and mandatory military service in Syria, persists in characterizing the Assad regime’s armed opponents as a hopeless collection of former butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.

 

What is truly curious, however, is the request to Congress for $500 million to finance what the president deems a fantasy. Indeed, if press reports are true that the United States is already involved in some low-level arming, equipping and training of Syrian rebels, one wonders how many taxpayer dollars have already been spent on something the commander-in-chief deems illusory. What is Congress now to make of this $500 million request? What are military planners at the U.S. Central Command to make of the midnight oil they have been burning trying to give shape to something they thought was real? What exactly was the purpose of whatever interagency process produced the $500 million initiative in the first place?

Read the whole thing here.

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