Vital Signs

Endorsing Demise

There is a distressing history of foreign insurgent groups manipulating U.S. political figures, policymakers, and opinion leaders into supporting their causes.  Frequently, that support goes far beyond rhetorical endorsements.  On several occasions during the late 20th and early 21st centuries, foreign lobbying efforts have led to U.S. military and financial aid being given to highly questionable organizations.  Sometimes those efforts have even entangled the United States in bloody, unnecessary, and morally dubious wars.

Recent developments confirm that the problem persists.  At the height of the Syrian civil war, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) traveled to rebel-held areas of the country, expressing strong U.S. support for the armed campaign to overthrow dictator Bashar al-Assad.  His sojourn proved more than a little embarrassing when he was photographed with a group of insurgent leaders that included a notorious terrorist.  That gaffe did not seem to deter the senator, however.  In subsequent months, he stepped up efforts to have the United States increase financial and military aid to the insurgents, establish a no-fly zone to neutralize Assad’s air power, and even launch cruise-missile strikes on government targets.

The Obama administration was moving in the same direction until overwhelming evidence began to emerge that the Syrian insurgent movement contained a large and increasingly...

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