Nashville Democrat Jim Cooper is skeptical of arming some rebels in Syria.
The White House is said to be mulling the approach championed last week by Tennessee Senator Bob Corker. To keep control of Syria from falling to violent extremists, the hope is to vet and back more moderate rebel groups.
But Rep. Cooper, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, is urging caution, saying it’s hard to tell exactly who in Syria is a moderate the U.S. might think about arming.
“Our human intelligence on the ground is very weak. You can’t tell this from satellites and things like that. So we really should be careful. Look before you leap,” Cooper says. “We need to make sure that we use our military resources extremely carefully, even if you’re talking about something that looks safe like an overflight zone – that’s not, because (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) has very heavy air defenses.”
There’s worrying evidence Assad may have used chemical weapons, Cooper acknowledges. But he warns against jumping to conclusions, saying that’s what got the U.S. into the Iraq war.