This is a serious matter. It should require serious people making real plans with metrics for victory and an end strategy in sight.
That is clearly not the case right now.
We are seeing reports that U.S. arms are fighting U.S. arms. Turkey has rolled U.S.-made M60 tanks into Syria to attack U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds. These Kurds have our weapons and support — and have had special forces embedded with them.
We helped these Kurds take towns from ISIS, yet now we watch our ally in Turkey attack them and our Secretary of State tells them to retreat from the gains they made with our help.
So far in this war we have funneled weapons to terrorists, armed multiple sides and generally acted as if we don’t have a clue what to do in the region — and we’ve done it all unconstitutionally.
A few miles away in Mare’, Syria, CIA-backed “moderate” Syrian rebels fight Pentagon-backed Turkish Kurds.
All the while ISIS slithers away into the shadows to watch two U.S. allies devour each other.
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Ironically, ISIS fighters now number under 25,000, while Turkish, Iraqi and Peshmerga Kurd forces are nearly 1 million strong. If only our allies were united, they could make short order of ISIS.
So why are they so divided? Why does the United States continue to operate with no authorization for war, no strategy and no exit in sight?
This is an abysmal failure of the foreign policy establishment on both sides of the aisle, with the Obama administration deserving much of the current blame.
From the beginning of the Syrian civil war, this has been the problem. The Obama administration drew red lines that made no sense. It armed opposition it did not know well or understand.
Worse yet, the opposition to Bashar al-Assad has never been unified, and their hatred for each other typically trumps their desire to attack ISIS.
In fact, for many of the so called moderate Syrian rebels, ISIS and Al Qaeda are still viewed as allies against Assad.
Some rebel groups even acknowledge publicly that if and when Assad is defeated, their next target will be Israel — not ISIS. And yet, despite this precarious state, Obama sends a steady drip of U.S. soldiers, a dozen at a time, into the cauldron of chaos.
So far in this war we have funneled weapons to terrorists, armed multiple sides and generally acted as if we don’t have a clue what to do in the region — and we’ve done it all unconstitutionally, with the president far exceeding his authority.
Enough. When Congress comes back this fall, we should immediately take action to either authorize this war or to end it, to demand a strategy and an exit plan from this administration and to institute some sort of sanity test to our current foreign policy in the region.
In the meantime, let us hope that our underwhelming contingent of soldiers will not be trapped by constraining rules of engagement in a war with vague boundaries and an ill-defined enemy.
War, of course, should not be entered into lightly. Our Founding Fathers understood this, debated it extensively and delegated power to declare war to Congress. Congress should assert itself — declare war, or not, and give our soldiers a clear mission. Our soldiers deserve this.
Republican Rand Paul represents Kentucky in the United States Senate.