Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

Print Print Cite Cite
Style: MLA APA Chicago Close


Praise the Lord and Pass the MREs

by Elliott Abrams
March 26, 2014


It’s getting to be a habit. For the Ukrainians facing Russian aggression, we shipped MREs: meals ready to eat.

For Syrian rebels facing Hezbollah, Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and Assad’s armed forces, we are shipping ambulances and medical kits. To be more exact, Foreign Policy reports that “The State Department is about to begin delivering tens of millions of dollars worth of new assistance into Syria, including ambulances, communications gear and Toyota pickup trucks for the country’s beleaguered rebels. The so-called non-lethal assistance effort for rebels has included buses and pickup trucks, blankets, 550,000 packaged military meals and, just last month, about 1,000 medical kits.”

Adding insult to injury, when asked to explain why the Syrian rebels are not winning, the Obama administration does not say “because we are sending ambulances and the Iranian are sending troops.” Nor does it say, well, look at all the Russian arms sales to Assad, or the Hezbollah soldiers fighting for him. Nope. It blames the rebels and takes zero responsibility for its own hopeless policy. As Fred Hof, a former official who used to work on Syria policy, wrote this week,

Blaming the victim, positing the rough moral equivalence of the parties, claiming that intervention would only make things worse, clinging to an all-or-nothing thesis by citing mass murder elsewhere and using the Iraq catastrophe as a one-size-fits-all template—these are all excuses for translating “never again” to “well, maybe this once.” Blaming the opposition… is not worthy of a great country.

But that’s our policy: MREs and blame.

Why aren’t the Syrian rebels doing better? How safe do Ukrainians feel? Why do so many American allies around the world feel less safe in the face of aggression, subversion, terrorism, or threats from their enemies and ours?

What was that patriotic song from 1942?  Praise the Lord and Pass the MRE?

The original lyrics are worth recalling:

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition
And we’ll all stay free

Praise the Lord and swing into position
Can’t afford to be a politician
Praise the Lord, we’re all between perdition
And the deep blue sea.




Post a Comment 2 Comments

  • Posted by ah

    It would be nice to see your quote on the Obama Admin. blaming the rebels. You left that out and skipped to a quote from a former official who not representing the administration.

    Secondly, you are well aware that US weapons are flowing the rebels. It just doesn’t fit into your narrative of wanting an invasion of another Middle Eastern country. The weapon flows are not a secret, they have been freely talked about in the Wash Post and other periodicals.

  • Posted by ah

    But… as usual Mr. Abrams, when someone calls you out for your intentional dishonesty, you do not bother to respond.

Post a Comment

CFR seeks to foster civil and informed discussion of foreign policy issues. Opinions expressed on CFR blogs are solely those of the author or commenter, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions. All comments must abide by CFR's guidelines and will be moderated prior to posting.

* Required