The story of the United States pledging $60 million to the Syrian opposition controversially hit the newspapers last week. Previously it had been only food rations and medical supplies that the U.S. had been assisting the rebels with, and therefore this announcement marked a serious turning point for the United States’ perceived involvement in the conflict.
The problem that many conservatives and those restrained in foreign assistance policy have with this is that the United States is once again taking a position as a global police-power. Dating back to Monroe Doctrine and remaining true to the day, the United States has often taken on the responsibility of international humanitarian, disaster, and conflict problems. Many fear in this particular situation, however, that this pledge is the beginning of even greater U.S. involvement in the Syrian Civil War. “There is speculation that the Obama administration might expand its program of support to the Free Syrian Army to include nonlethal equipment if rebel fighters use the initial assistance effectively and do not allow any to fall into the hands of extremists.” While Bashar al-Assad is unquestionably a corrupt and dangerous leader, the real dispute lies in the rebels that the U.S. and other involved nations may be supporting. There are many rumors that the rebels are deeply infiltrated by terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, which would mean support would be clearly against U.S. interests.
It is a tough decision for a powerful nation to make when civil war is raging and people are being killed, and there will always be those who disagree with the actions taken. What is left to see is if the U.S.’s $60m drastically changes the situation in Syria, or if Secretary of State John Kerry will take any further actions. U.S. personnel involvement, by my estimation, is extremely improbable. Nonetheless, there are many critics of Secretary Kerry who believe that he may eventually order such action, (senators included).