Thursday, June 13, 2013

"Both in polls & with their checkbooks, Americans have delivered a message to Obama: NO engagement in Syria!"

"... WASHINGTON — Facing a growing humanitarian crisis, Oxfam, the international relief agency, set a goal in January of raising $53 million to aid victims of Syria's brutal civil war. So far, Americans have contributed $150,000.Oxfam isn't alone. Mercy Corps has collected $900,000 for Syrian refugees during the 27 months of the war, a fraction of the $2.5 million raised in a few weeks in 2006 during the one-month war between Israel and the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.
Other aid groups report similar low levels of response — a sharp contrast to Americans' usual warmhearted giving to help victims of foreign earthquakes, floods and wars.
The stinginess reflects the murky nature of the Syrian war. It also serves as a rough gauge of public sentiment on a crisis that has frustrated the Obama administration for more than two years. Both in polls and with their checkbooks, Americans have delivered a message of non-engagement, bolstering President Obama's aversion to deeper involvement.
That reticence has remained constant even as pressure to act has risen in Washington. In recent days, the Syrian government, aided by its Hezbollah allies, has made progress on the battlefield, seizing a key town from rebels. Reports have circulated that the government plans to follow up that victory with assaults on rebel positions in and around the city of Aleppo.
The setbacks for the rebels have sparked a new round of administration meetings behind closed doors as officials resume a months-long internal debate over whether to escalate U.S. military support for the rebels in a bid to pressure the government of President Bashar Assad....
For the last year, Obama has rejected suggestions to provide arms to the rebels, create a no-fly zone over part of Syria to protect them or authorize airstrikes against the government's military assets.
Officials acknowledge that those options are difficult because arms given to rebels could fall into the hands of extremists, and limited military action could entangle the United States in a long war without yielding victory.
Those risks, plus the public's reluctance to engage, appear to have reinforced the president's caution.....
From the standpoint of average Americans, the Syrian war "is too unclear, too confusing, too far away and coming at the wrong time," said Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. peace negotiator who is now a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.....
Countries sympathetic to the Syrian opposition pledged $1.5 billion in January to help people in Syria and the 1.6 million who have fled the country. But actual collections have fallen far short of that figure..."

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