July 11, 2013
The influential chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said Wednesday, July 10, that the administration of President Barack Obama should prepare to target Syrian “airfields, airplanes and massed artillery” using stand-off weapons in addition to arming and training the opposition to the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Levin, who just returned from a lengthy visit to the Middle East, said only increased US support for vetted rebel groups could level the playing field with Assad and his Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies and lay the ground for a political settlement. These limited but “essential steps,” he said, afford “the best hope and perhaps the only hope” to end a two-year-old conflict that is threatening US national interests by destabilizing Syria’s neighbors and creating potential “safe havens” in Syria for anti-US extremists.
The veteran legislator, who is not running for re-election in 2014, conceded in a major address at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that there is scant US popular support for increased involvement in the Syrian conflict and “no consensus” on the issue on Capitol Hill. Indeed, recent polls show that a majority of Americans  opposes even giving weapons to Syrian rebels.
After the Afghan and Iraq wars, “We know the American people are very dubious” about any new US military involvement abroad, he said.
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