Obama is bungling the war in Syria

Photo by Lawrence Jackson/White House

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Sometimes you have to ask yourself whether this administration is duplicitous on an epic scale or if it is incompetent on an epic scale. Take, for instance, the ongoing “war” with ISIS. This war requires ground troops to execute it. Currently there are four major sources of ground troops; the Iraqi armed forces, Iranian militias (in Iraq and Syria, and I am dumping Lebanese Hezbollah in this category), the Kurds, and the Syrian resistance. Let’s focus on the latter two. The administration is perfectly willing to see the Kurds wiped out. This would be a sop to our nominal ally, Turkey (here | here). The Turks seem to have made rapprochement with Iran a central feature of their foreign policy, and who can blame them having seen this administration in action. So what is happening with the Syrian resistance?


It didn’t take long for rebel commanders in Syria who lined up to join a Central Intelligence Agency weapons and training program to start scratching their heads.

After the program was launched in mid-2013, CIA officers secretly analyzed cellphone calls and email messages of commanders to make sure they were really in charge of the men they claimed to lead. Commanders were then interviewed, sometimes for days.

Those who made the cut, earning the label “trusted commanders,” signed written agreements, submitted payroll information about their fighters and detailed their battlefield strategy. Only then did they get help, and it was far less than they were counting on.

Some weapons shipments were so small that commanders had to ration ammunition. One of the U.S.’s favorite trusted commanders got the equivalent of 16 bullets a month per fighter. Rebel leaders were told they had to hand over old antitank missile launchers to get new ones—and couldn’t get shells for captured tanks. When they appealed last summer for ammo to battle fighters linked to al Qaeda, the U.S. said no.

This level of support to fighters who often have to fight both ISIS and Assad’s army isn’t a big carrot. In the words of prophet and terrorist ass****, Osama bin Laden, “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.” How does this play out in Syria?


Entire CIA-backed rebel units, including fighters numbering in the “low hundreds” who went through the training program, have changed sides by joining forces with Islamist brigades, quit the fight or gone missing.

If this was a deliberate strategy by the administration, to keep a three way fight going in Syria that would cripple Assad and kill a boatload of jihadis and Iranians and their stooges, I’d be all for it. But it isn’t. This is simply incompetence of the sort that usually happens in movie with Peter Sellers.


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