There are reports that President Obama is moving closer to arming the Syrian rebels. Thus far we have provided only non-lethal aid. The problem is that there aren’t really any secular rebels who have a shot at replacing Assad. The most successful and powerful rebel groups are all Islamist, with some now pledging loyalty to Al Qaeda.
We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t in Syria. Awful as Assad is, the viable alternatives seem as bad or worse.
Remember how we helped the Taliban fight the Russians in Afghanistan? That didn’t turn out too well for us.
The GOP is setting up the Prez to fail whatever he does. They are all over him for not taking immediate action in response to reports of use of sarin. But if Syria falls into the hands of radical Islamists, they’ll curse him for that too, as they regularly do for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. And some of the potential leaders in Syria would make Mohammed Morsi look like Thomas Jefferson.
The NYT reports today* that for more than ten years, the CIA has dropped off monthly bags of cash to Hamid Karzai’s office in Kabul. We’re talking tens of millions of dollars. That’s a lot of silk capes and lambskin hats, people.
Asked about the story, Jay Carney at the White House had no comment, so I’ll take that as an “abso-fucking-lutely.” It really is time to get the hell out of Afghanistan.
* “With Bags of Cash, CIA Seeks Influence in Afghanistan,” Matthew Rosenberg
Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor now thinks maybe that whole Bushv. Gore thing (in which she voted to end the Florida recount and make Bush president) maybe wasn’t such a good idea after all:
“Maybe the court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye.’ Obviously the court did reach a decision and thought it had to reach a decision. It turned out the election authorities in Florida hadn’t done a real good job there and kind of messed it up. And probably the Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day.”
The mysterious “Misha” who has been accused to radicalizing Tamerlan Tsernaev has surfaced. He is a 39-year-old American of Armenian and Ukrainian descent, Mikhail Allakhverdov, who converted to Islam and knew Tamerlan in 2009 in Massachusetts. He now lives in Rhode Island with his American girlfriend and his parents.
While he admits to knowing Tamerlan, he denies having anything to do with turning him into a radical, and says that he has been cooperating with the FBI.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev won the New England Golden Gloves heavy-weight boxing championship two years in a row. But because he wasn’t a citizen, just a legal resident, he wasn’t allowed to compete in the national tournament.
There seem to be conflicting reports whether Tamerlan gave up boxing when he fell under the influence of the radical Islamist “Misha,” or whether he got involved with Misha after he gave up boxing because he couldn’t compete at the national level.
Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Michael McCaul (R-Texas) believes that the Tsarnaev brothers’ mother played a very strong role in their radicalization. He said that she would be detained for questioning if she were to return to the U. S.
He also said that given the sophistication of the bombs, he believes that the brothers had training.
It should be noted that while the Al Qaeda online magazine Inspire has instructions for making a bomb, it doesn’t tell you how to make the complex triggering device they used.
The 26-year-old Chinese national known as “Danny,” whose Mercedes the Tsarnaev brothers hijacked, purposely left his iPhone in the car when he escaped, so that the police could use it to track the brothers.
When they stopped for gas, Dzhokhar went inside to pay, and Tamerlan put his gun aside to figure out the navigation device (maybe planning his route to New York City?), so Danny managed to escape and run to the gas station across the street to call 911.
Danny also said that when his phone rang, the brothers threatened to kill him if he spoke Chinese on the phone.