Despite calling the available options to secure Syria’s chemical weapons “pretty awful,” House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said it was possible to transfer the country’s massive stockpiles to international control — especially with Arab League troops on the ground.
“I do think you can get a good percentage of them, because the Assad regime is also worried these things could fall in the wrong hands and could be used against the regime,” Rogers told the Intelligence and National Security Alliance summit on Thursday.
President Obama this week asked a wary Congress to postpone a vote authorizing force to punish Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons against his people to pursue diplomatic options instead. These options include a resolution at the United Nations Security Council requiring Assad to place his chemical arsenal under international control to be destroyed. Syria, one of the few countries that never signed the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention, is believed to have one of the largest stockpiles of these weapons in the world — and securing and destroying them would be an arduous task even without a bloody civil war still raging.
To wade into Syria, where more than 100,000 people have died in the conflict, chemical-weapons inspectors would surely need protection. Rogers insisted there’s no need for U.S. boots on the ground in Syria. Instead, the Arab League is “willing to provide the support we need, including troops to go in and help secure those weapons systems, because they know how dangerous it is if it proliferates around the Levant,” he said.
“So I kind of hope we shake ourselves out of this malaise, and the administration regroups about how we could impact that with a plan that’s meaningful and embraces our Arab League partners eager to do it,” Rogers said. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and Turkey are the partners “eager” to take on the task, Rogers said.
By contrast, Rogers says no Republican or Democrat on his committee, or even on the Armed Services Committees, is interested in trying to put thousands of U.S. troops on the ground. “That’s nuts. It would be a horrible decision.”
Even with a concerted mission to protect and destroy the chemical weapons, there are dangerous consequences. “We do think there’s going to be some further dispersal of the chemical weapons,” Rogers said. This is especially worrying because — as ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., noted — other groups might like to get their hands on these weapons. “There’s al-Qaida on one side, Hezbollah on the other.”
Syria, Ruppersberger says, cannot be trusted to fully cooperate. “They have to be totally held accountable. I’m sure they’re moving [their stocks] right now knowing that this is coming at this point,” Ruppersberger told National Journal. “The only reason they’re agreeing to anything at this point is because of the threat of power.” Ruppersberger agrees Washington cannot take on this mission alone. “The United States can’t be the sheriff of the whole world; it’s got to be a coalition.”
Sarin, the nerve agent suspected of killing hundreds of people last month and sparking Washington’s call for military action, can be destroyed in a short period of time. “In the old days, it was a much more complicated process,” Rogers says. By contrast, mustard gas and other weapons “are going to take a lot longer; you’ve got to do it with incinerators.”
What We're Following See More »
The Commission on Presidential Debates put out a statement today that gives credence to Donald Trump's claims that he had a bad microphone on Monday night. "Regarding the first debate, there were issues regarding Donald Trump's audio that affected the sound level in the debate hall," read the statement in its entirety.
"A video of Donald Trump testifying under oath about his provocative rhetoric about Mexicans and other Latinos is set to go public" as soon as today. "Trump gave the testimony in June at a law office in Washington in connection with one of two lawsuits he filed last year after prominent chefs reacted to the controversy over his remarks by pulling out of plans to open restaurants at his new D.C. hotel. D.C. Superior Court Judge Brian Holeman said in an order issued Thursday evening that fears the testimony might show up in campaign commercials were no basis to keep the public from seeing the video."
No matter that his recall of foreign leaders leaves something to be desired, Gary Johnson is the choice of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board. The editors argue that Donald Trump couldn't do the job of president, while hitting Hillary Clinton for "her intent to greatly increase federal spending and taxation, and serious questions about honesty and trust." Which leaves them with Johnson. "Every American who casts a vote for him is standing for principles," they write, "and can be proud of that vote. Yes, proud of a candidate in 2016."
Speaking at the funeral of former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, President Obama "compared Peres to 'other giants of the 20th century' such as Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth who 'find no need to posture or traffic in what's popular in the moment.'" Among the 6,000 mourners at the service was Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Obama called Abbas's presence a sign of the "unfinished business of peace" in the region.