The Cognitive Dissonance of Senators McCain and Graham (and the NYT)

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are up to their usual warmongering, urging the Obama administration to escalate its policy of supporting armed rebels in Syria and illustrating remarkable cognitive dissonance.

Graham describes the administration’s policy as “hands-off” despite the fact that the CIA has been coordinating the flow of arms to the rebels, most of which weapons have ended up in the hands of radical jihadists. The New York Times blog “The Lede” reports:

“If we keep this hands-off approach to Syria, this indecisive action toward Syria, kind of not knowing what we’re going to do next, we’re going to start a war with Iran because Iran’s going to take our inaction in Syria as meaning we’re not serious about their nuclear weapons program,” Mr. Graham saidon the CBS News program “Face the Nation.”

Mr. Graham added, “There’s nothing you can do in Syria without risk, but the greatest risk is a failed state with chemical weapons falling in the hands of radical Islamists, and they’re pouring into Syria.”

…Now Mr. Graham, Mr. McCain and others would like the United States to do more, possibly by arming the rebels or establishing a no-fly zone to neutralize Syria’s air defense, though they disagreed on the particulars.

So the U.S. has been arming rebels whose top fighters are Islamic extremists, including the al Qaeda affiliate the Al Nusra Front, which support has helped to prolong and escalate the conflict and create a threat where there is a risk of Syria’s chemical weapons from falling into the hands of the very same jihadists, and so now the proposed solution is to further escalate the support for the very same armed rebels.

Truly, Senators McCain and Graham have a dizzying intellect. The Times editorial board humorously rejects the Senators’ “Ill-Considered Advice on Syria”, that of “directly arming the rebels”, and correctly points out that “the administration has not adopted a hands-off approach to Syria”. Indeed.

Yet the Times itself has repeatedly urged “More Help for Syrian Rebels”—that’s the title of a recent editorial, to give one example, in which the Times stated that “President Obama is edging, cautiously but appropriately, toward greater support for the rebels.” The Times has oft praised the administration’s policy towards Syria of not directly arming the rebels, but doing so only slightly more indirectly, through the CIA’s more “cautious” funneling of arms from the U.S.’s regional allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar to the rebels, even as it acknowledges that “Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.”

The Times editors at least do not suffer cognitive dissonance to quite the same extreme as the good Senators.

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