Giving Syria’s rebels surface-to-air weapons is a risk the Obama Administration shouldn’t take
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On the battlefield, shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles can be exceptionally effective. Lightweight and portable, they are capable of knocking helicopters and low-flying airplanes out of the sky. Off the battlefield, they are just as dangerous. Former CIA director David Petraeus has called them “our worst nightmare.” Just one in the wrong hands, and aimed at a civilian airliner, could blow a $15 billion hole in the world economy. But in spite of the risks the missiles pose, some Syrian and American officials argue that they have a significant upside: they could turn the tide of the civil war in Syria. And that’s why the Obama Administration is debating whether to give them to Syria’s rebels.