Sen. John McCain, perhaps the leading figure pushing for intervention in Syria, was interviewed by Jake Tapper on ABC’s “This Week”:
TAPPER: Is — is there not — do you not have any concern — there are reports that some of the rebels in Syria are affiliated with Al Qaida, are extremist. Are you not concerned at all that arming these rebel groups in Syria could end up having a horrible blowback effect?
MCCAIN: Well, I don’t know what horrible blowback effect there would be, besides the fact that extremists may take it over.
McCain went on to claim this chatter about extremist elements among the opposition is an old song he doesn’t really buy. “I heard this same story in Libya. I heard it in Tunisia. I heard it in Egypt.” To conflate these three countries and Syria simply demonstrates McCain’s oversimplified worldview and terrible foreign policy ineptitude. Syria is not Libya or Tunisia. And intervention would be an utter disaster.
But extremists did in fact benefit from our intervention in Libya and the Jeffersonians people like McCain rallied behind are virtually non-existent in Libya.
McCain is way off on Tunisia and Egypt, if for no other reason that a military intervention was never even on the table to my knowledge. Nevertheless, Islamists political blocs are a very strong force in each country. And besides, those revolutions were in part the blowback to our propping up puppet dictators. So his starting point is all wrong.
It was nice to see McCain, though, at least partially acknowledge that the policy he’s advocating could bring extremist militants to power. You can see the video of the exchange here.