Fecteau: Congress is Missing in Action on the War in Syria
Monday, March 20, 2017
In the past, U.S. military generals have complained about micromanagement by the Obama administration. Unlike the Trump administration, the Obama administration was leery about introducing ground forces into a foreign country. The risks were too great, and the rewards were inadequate – as proven by the Iraq War.
At the time of this writing, the United States has inserted US Marines and Army Rangers into Syria and will likely introduce conventional Army units. These forces will be auxiliary forces, supporting the siege of the Syrian city of Raqqa by rebels and Kurdish forces. This is similar to how we have supported the Iraqi Army in operations against ISIS. American troops are coming into Kuwait as a reserve force to support such efforts.
This is a mission with considerable risk. Our enemies can capitalize on this. The Syrian government called Americans invaders, and the Islamic terrorists can use this for their propaganda efforts; the American infidels are laying siege to another Muslim country. The potential for troop casualties is significant in the absence of serious security provisions.
This war is already a complex mess. American forces will be in a war zone with many competing factions. Besides ISIS, there are al Qaeda affiliates, Syrian government forces, Iranian forces, and Russian forces. Even Israel has struck several targets in Syria. Now, with the introduction of conventional forces, that is just another variable in the mix.
There is an immense difference between the Obama administration using special operators in limited situations in Syria and a large-scale deployment of forces. What will happen if US troops die? Will we escalate the war further or pull the troops out like Reagan did after the American barracks in Beirut was bombed during the 1980s conflict in Lebanon? These are not idle questions, but key decisions that need to be made before deploying soldiers on a multifaceted battlefield.
Congress needs to have a serious discussion about the Syrian war before more conventional forces are introduced. Some, such as myself, may be unsure why conventional forces are needed to destroy this terrorist organization already on the brink of annihilation. The Islamic State will be defeated (everyone is certain about that), but Congress mustn’t shirk from its responsibility to discuss the means to this end.
Related Slideshow: Trump’s Win - What Does it Mean for Rhode Island?
"We don't really know what a Trump presidency means for the nation, never mind the smallest state. One of the unintended consequences of last night's results is that Sen. Jack Reed won't be chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Chalk that up as a loss for RI."
Head of Ocean State Taxpayers' Association
"Trump’s win means that his signature issue, illegal immigration, could have a big impact on RI, hopefully reversing our course as a sanctuary state and saving the state taxpayer millions of dollars. While we agree with his 'repeal and replace' Obamacare stance, we have no idea what that means to the RI debacle known as UHIP. It is not a stretch to believe that federal funding for this kind of system will be off the table so, will RI be stuck with this massively expensive system that still doesn’t work and that is expected to cost another $124 million to fix?
Trump's belief that there is significant fraud in the Food Stamp program and the policies that may come from that belief could have a negative impact on RI's local economy since there are businesses in certain cities that rely heavily on this program, fraud and all. On the upside, we may be able to ditch the UHIP program if there is significantly less need for processing welfare program requests (ie. Medicaid and food stamps) resulting from fewer illegal immigrants and less fraud. While we are ambivalent about his touted child care policies, if enacted, it may force our legislators to revisit the ever growing state cost of subsidies in this area and possibly reduce the fraud and abuse in this system."
Professor at Rhode Island College
"With a Republican President and Congress, Rhode Island will probably be excluded from the 'fruits of victory."
The congressional delegation will be able to vocally make their presence felt, but in the long term it's more symbolic than substantive.
For Rhode Island it's a matter of holding on and waiting until '18 or '20 and a surge in Democratic influence."
Professor at American University
"The RI congressional delegation just became even less powerful than it was. With unified government, Trump doesn’t need to quell Democrats’ concerns or acquiesce because he’s worried about a Democratically-controlled Senate.
His appointments will reflect that. His executive orders will affect that. And the conservative policy agenda he puts forward will affect that."
Professor at University of Rhode Island
"Well there's a few things -- because there's not going to be gridlock, that's a big difference if it had been Hillary and a GOP Congress, in which nothing would got done. We'll at least get a half a billion in infrastructure that's going to pass which will have an impact.
I think you'll see there will be reduced reliance on government nationally -- and that's where we'll stick out like sore thumb. We've relied way too much on government -- and our government is highly inefficient and ineffective. Maybe, just maybe, in this who cycle of things we might be forced to be small and more efficient for once.
A couple of other things -- interest rates jumped. The one to follow is the ten year government bond rate -- which is tied to mortgages. It went from 1.7% to 2.05% in one day. The point is -- if the ten year stays high, mortgage rates will start going higher -- and in the short time people will run to re-finance.
That's the short term impact -- but then if rates stay hight, that will make mortgages more out of reach. And we just passed a bond issue to limit open space -- housing has limited upside here.
The next thing -- the Fed Reserve will go ahead with tightening next month. A strong dollar will hurt manufacturing. When the dollar is strong our exports become more expensive overseas.
Our goods production sector -- manufacturing and construction -- in the near term will do a little better, but as time goes on will be more limited. But something you won't hear, is there are lags in fiscal policy, of six months to year. So we won't really see the effects until the third our fourth quarter of 2017, going into 2018."
RI Center for Freedon and Prosperity
"As the unbelievable turned into reality this morning, it struck me that the presidential election was not really all about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It was about a fed-up people, revolting against a corrupt system - the "beast" - that relentlessly favors insiders. Hillary personified the beast, while Donald personified the slayer.
Sadly, based on election results in our state, Rhode Island's version of the beast lives on. I fear our political class has not learned the lessons from the Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump movements - and will continue with their government-centric, anti-family, anti-business status quo."
Kristina Contreras Fox
VP of Young Democrats of America
"A Trump Presidency means the validation of the ugliest part of America. In RI, as with the rest of the country, the hammer of his hatred will fall hardest on minority communities. Being a blue state doesn't make us immune from this danger.
Trump won over 35% (39.5) of the vote here! We need to look in the mirror, and not lie about what the reflection shows us. No more hiding underneath a blue blanket. I expect those who claim Democratic values to be true to those values. The gulf between words and actions have turned into fertile ground for Trump's message to grow here in RI. If you call yourself a Democrat, if you claim to stand in opposition to Trump, now is the time to prove it. Show up and fight back."
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