The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Too Little Too Late? Kerry Announces New Aid for Syrian Rebels

Protestors Rally Outside UN General Assembly

Secretary Kerry announced this morning that the US would double its support for the Syrian rebels, with total of a quarter of a billion dollars in assistance heading their way.

The New York Times has the story:

A portion of the new American aid, the State Department said, will help provide additional “nonlethal” supplies to the military wing of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, an umbrella organization formed in November to unite the various rebel groups that have been trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad for two years.

So here we are more than two years into Syria’s bloody civil war, with over 70,000 people dead, and the US, tentatively, offers nonlethal aid to the rebels. More decisive steps taken earlier might have done more both to spare Syrians who continue to suffer through this conflict, and to send a message about America’s intentions to Iran.

We have more skin in the game now; the question is whether we will gain influence on the ground as a result. It currently appears that both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have closer relations and more influence with the rebels than we do. American policy seems to be reduced to hoping that this influence is used wisely.

[A woman protests Assad outside the UN Headquarters on September 26, 2012. Getty Images.]

Published on April 21, 2013 1:45 pm
  • http://twitter.com/BlatonHardey Blaton Hardey

    It turns out Uncle Sam is a nice doctor who keeps the sheep alive while they’re butchered. I guess the only thing more cynical would be aiding the butcher “for humanitarian reasons”.

    C’mon, Barry O. Just let a battalion of marine kids take care of business in Damascus and Aleppo and in the meantime send a B-2 to level the presidential palace of Tehran. No more headaches. You need to show people they don’t get your good will for free. Especially the butchers.

  • Jim Luebke

    So, we provide non-lethal aid to the non-Islamist rebels, painting a great big “Friend of Uncle Sam” target on their backs, and failing to arm them against the Islamist rebels who will be aiming for that target with whatever lethal aid they can muster.

    The Iraq War was a tragedy. This is a farce.

  • SF Dude

    Uh… Isn’t much of this “non-lethal” aid fungible? Isn’t there an international arms market that’s basically cash and carry? Who’s kidding whom here?

  • http://twitter.com/BlatonHardey Blaton Hardey

    Looks like the grand strategy is “Speak big and carry a soft stick”.