Members of Congress of both parties are right to balk at President Barack Obama’s request for money to arm rebels fighting the Syrian regime. Clearly, some of the lawmakers have better memories and more strategic attitudes concerning the Middle East.
After many months of doing nothing to aid the Syrian rebels, Obama now wants to give them substantive help. But many lawmakers want to know more about his plan.
They are right to be skeptical. Some remember U.S. aid to Afghan rebels fighting the Soviet Union during the 1980s. Much of it went with no questions asked to the Taliban, who used their military might to take over Afghanistan, installing one of the most repressive regimes in the world. There appear to be few, if any, guarantees U.S. aid to Syrian rebels would not fall into similarly hostile hands.
Then there is the matter of friendly countries such as Jordan, a staunch U.S. ally. That country shares a long border with Syria. What if militant Islamic rebels decide to topple the Jordanian government, too?
Before any U.S. aid goes to the rebels, lawmakers need to be satisfied it will not come back to haunt us.