TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A senior international affairs expert from New York University urged the US administration to avoid sending arms to Middle Eastern countries, to Syrian rebels in particular, and work toward a nuclear arms free zone.
“If I were the US president, I would cancel all arms sales to the region now and work toward a nuclear arms free zone,” International Affairs Specialist and Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute Patricia DeGennaro said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.
“It is time for our leaders and decision makers to act like grown men and women and stop using others to wage lethal and destructive activities,” she said.
Patricia DeGennaro is adjunct Assistant Professor at New York University’s Department of Politics where she teaches a course on international security.
DeGennaro has published several articles on US foreign policy and national security topics. Her focus is to encourage a holistic and integrated international policy that looks beyond war and the use of force. She is often an expert commentator for CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, BBC and various nationally and internationally syndicated radio programs. DeGennaro is also a regular columnist on The Huffington Post.
The full text of the interview is as follows:
Tasnim: According to a report published last weekend by the Washington Post, the US administration has been secretly considering sending more arms to CIA-backed rebels fighting the Syrian government and Russian forces. Citing US officials, who preferred to remain anonymous, the newspaper reported the existence of a so-called ‘Plan B,’ which will equip US-backed militants with more advanced arms, including truck-mounted anti-aircraft weapons. It says the plan was raised several times over the course of recent weekly White House meetings and was submitted to President Barack Obama during a National Security Council meeting on October 14. The report said, however, that ‘Plan B’ was “neither approved nor rejected,” with Obama reluctant to make any decision on the matter. Previous reports also suggest that the US government has been providing the rebels with advanced weaponry. At the same time, Washington claims that it is trying to restore peace to the crisis-hit country. In your opinion, would the plan B help bring peace to the Arab country at all?
DeGennaro: It sounds to me like “Plan B” is not being considered at all. Having said that, Syria is awash with weapons coming from the East and the West, so personally I think sending any more weapons to Syria or the region for that matter is not something that will bring peace to Syria, Yemen or other nations. The idea that any country, including the US, would bring more munitions to the parties is counterproductive for the people who are the ones suffering. Right now, I don’t see any individual party bringing peace to this nation. All countries should immediately cease arming any party, period. The governments making these decisions to arm are sitting safe and comfortably while children and families are dying. It has been six years. It is time for our leaders and decision makers to act like grown men and women and stop using others to wage lethal and destructive activities.
Tasnim: Experts say new arms supplies to the rebels in Syria could lead to the deaths of Russian military forces who have been aiding the Syrian Army, and this could in turn cause a direct conflict between Washington and Moscow, which Obama has been trying to avoid. Some reports also say such confrontation may lead to a nuclear war and destroy humankind. Earlier this month, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said that any threat against the country’s forces in Syria will not go unanswered. What is your take on that?
DeGennaro: Arms supplies by any country will lead to deaths, period. I am actually surprised that combat has not ensued between the larger powers playing war games in the sky with people’s lives. All parties have gone too far in allowing this conflict to continue. Syria is destroyed not Russia, the US, Turkey or others who are basically seeing who blinks first. As for the Russian ministry spokeswomen Zakharove, she, like too many diplomats, is saying what she is told. These statements are part of an informational narrative that too many people believe instead of trying to understand and address the greater dynamics between countries and solve issues without violence and war being the first instead of the last alternative.
Tasnim: In one of your most recent interviews you said Russian and US leaders must try to come to some kind of agreement where both sides actually can cooperate instead of one side trying to outmaneuver the other and that Washington has no option in Syria except to support President Bashar al-Assad. Kindly explain.
DeGennaro: It is not for the US, Russia or Saudi Arabia to decide who should rule a country. Its citizens are in charge. As long as Assad feels threatened, he will continue to do everything in his power to rid the country of these groups – Daesh and others. Any country that was dealing with such an insurgency might do the same, which does not make it right, it makes it the way governments deal with opposition today. So to get the situation under control, stop the fighting and bring in humanitarian support for the people, Assad is the President and must be involved in solving the problem instead of exacerbating it. States need to revisit how they address challenges in this global environment more appropriately through robust diplomacy and statecraft. Unilaterally deciding any nation has the right to attack another or use their military ad hoc is a future I do not think anyone can stomach. I would say that if we all would like to see a future for ourselves, our families and communities, all nations must stand down and get their militaries under State control and use them as they are intended – to protect the nation not for provocation or fear.
Tasnim: It is no secret to anyone that Saudi Arabia and Turkey are, directly or indirectly, backing the terrorists in the Arab country, fanning the flames of the ongoing crisis. What are these two countries pursuing in Syria? What consequences such hostile acts may follow?
DeGennaro: Well I think you probably mean there are not a lack of influencing parties in Syria both militarily and financially. All of whom are responsible for the current dilemma. It is shocking that so many feel that such violence and disrespect of human life has become so acceptable by terrorists and nations alike. Marginalizing, mistreating or categorizing individuals and groups through venomous narratives is what got all of us here in the first place. If I were the US president, I would cancel all arms sales to the region now and work toward a nuclear arms free zone. Nations have not been using these weapons for much other than what they think is a solution when, in fact, it is exactly the opposite. War creates generations of traumatized, angry, and unstable individuals. It interferes with generations of education, economic vitality, and health. I think we all know the consequences are more years of war or a nation misreading or mistaking another’s actions for direct combat and that would lead us to either a completely devastated region or worse the next world war and that may have an end we all would rather not see.
By Tasnim News Agency