Preempting the Need for Vetting Insurgents

In a recent post on intervention — both the subject in general and as applies to Syria — I proposed codifying guidelines for insurgent behavior that would act as incentives. They would include the obvious, such as refraining from: savage retaliation against the regime’s forces, killing civilians, and blocking monitoring by human rights groups. In return the insurgents would receive arms from other states, NATO, and the United Nations or even intervention.

On June 21, at the New York Times, Eric Schmitt reported:

A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers. … By helping to vet rebel groups, [the C.I.A. officers] hope to learn more about a growing, changing opposition network inside of Syria and to establish new ties.

In a sense this is a method of rewarding insurgents — but after the fact. If incentives were codified, the vetting process could begin months earlier and theoretically proceed with more efficiency, thus saving many lives.