Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas appeared on the September 8, 2013 edition of the ABC News Sunday Magazine “This Week” where he reiterated his opposition to a military strike on Syria. However he also offered an alternative strategy that he feels will address the problem of Bashir Assad’s depredations against the Syrian people without aiding the opposition which the senator views as heavily dominated by Al Qaeda.
“Number one, there are reports that Iraq is allowing Iran to fly over and resupply Assad. I would right now cut off Iraq's $500 million in aid unless they cut you are a air rights.
“Number two, we should force a vote in the U.N. security council condemning Assad's use of chemical weapons to murder his own citizens. Now we know...”
At that point the interviewer, former Clinton aide George Stephanapoulos pointed out that Russia and China would veto such a resolution. But Cruz had a ready answer for that as well.
“We know Russia and China would veto it. They said that, but we should make them veto it on the world stage. And if they do veto it, we should respond by, with respect to Russia, we should reinstate the anti-ballistic missile station in Eastern Europe that was canceled at the beginning of the Obama administration to appease Russia, and with respect to China, we should go through with selling the new F-16s to Taiwan that again this administration put the kaibosh... “
Stephanapoulos then inquired what exactly would that do to Assad in Syria. Cruz responded that it would united public opinion condemning him.
Cruz’s approach to the matter is interesting on several levels. First cutting off the air supply route from Iran to Syria would have actual bite against Assad, leaving only a long, sea route open that would be subject to interdiction by the Israeli Navy and the American Sixth Fleet.
Building the ABM system in Eastern Europe and selling F-16s to Taiwan should happen in any case; the decisions by the Obama administration not to do so is widely regarded as appeasement. Cruz’s gambit would put China and Russia in a quandary. They can condemn an ally of theirs in the Middle East and open things up to UN sanctions. Or they can accept American moves that they have opposed in the past.
Cruz’s strategy does not solve the immediate problem of chemical weapons in the hands of a rogue state that has proven willing to use them nor the prospect of they being seized by Al Qaeda affiliated rebels. But it does constitute thinking that lays between doing nothing and launching an unpopular and unwise war.