Obama: I thought training Syrian rebels was hokum all along

Free-Syrian-Army-US-Army-Training

One of the central pieces of our alleged coalition in Syria was the training of a Syrian army that could both roll back ISIS and defeat Assad’s army. Just a year ago Obama had this to say:

Here at home, I’m pleased that Congress — a majority of Democrats and a majority of Republicans, in both the House and the Senate — have now voted to support a key element of our strategy: our plan to train and equip the opposition in Syria so they can help push back these terrorists. As I said last week, I believe that we’re strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together. And I want to thank leaders in Congress for the speed and seriousness with which they approached this urgent issue — in keeping with the bipartisanship that is the hallmark of American foreign policy at its best.

These Syrian opposition forces are fighting both the brutality of ISIL terrorists and the tyranny of the Assad regime. We had already ramped up our assistance, including military assistance, to the Syrian opposition. With this new effort, we’ll provide training and equipment to help them grow stronger and take on ISIL terrorists inside Syria. This program will be hosted outside of Syria, in partnership with Arab countries, and it will be matched by our increasing support for Iraqi government and Kurdish forces in Iraq.

This is in keeping with a key principle of our strategy: The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission; their mission is to advise and assist our partners on the ground. As I told our troops yesterday, we can join with allies and partners to destroy ISIL without American troops fighting another ground war in the Middle East.

Last night on 60 Minutes, however, Obama said he never thought this plan would work:

Steve Kroft: You have been talking about the moderate opposition in Syria. It seems very hard to identify. And you talked about the frustrations of trying to find some and train them. You got a half a billion dollars from Congress to train and equip 5,000, and at the end, according to the commander CENTCOM, you got 50 people, most of whom are dead or deserted. He said four or five left?

President Barack Obama: Steve, this is why I’ve been skeptical from the get go about the notion that we were going to effectively create this proxy army inside of Syria. My goal has been to try to test the proposition, can we be able to train and equip a moderate opposition that’s willing to fight ISIL? And what we’ve learned is that as long as Assad remains in power, it is very difficult to get those folks to focus their attention on ISIL.

Steve Kroft: If you were skeptical of the program to find and identify, train and equip moderate Syrians, why did you go through the program?

President Barack Obama: Well, because part of what we have to do here, Steve, is to try different things. Because we also have partners on the ground that are invested and interested in seeing some sort of resolution to this problem. And–

He goes on to talk about how unrealistic expectations were:

President Barack Obama: Look, there’s no doubt that it did not work. And, one of the challenges that I’ve had throughout this heartbreaking situation inside of Syria is, is that– you’ll have people insist that, you know, all you have to do is send in a few– you know, truckloads full of arms and people are ready to fight. And then, when you start a train-and-equip program and it doesn’t work, then people say, “Well, why didn’t it work?” Or, “If it had just started three months earlier it would’ve worked.”

Except that is not what happened. Both CIA and Defense sunk billions of dollars into this program and it has achieved damned little. This is one of the strawmen that Obama is so fond of constructing to make his own dunderheadedness seem brilliant when juxtaposed to an even more stupid option that no one proposed. As the old joke goes about the cavalry officer that was so stupid that even the horses began to take notice, even hard core Democrat pundits are beginning to take notice of Obama’s ineptitude.

Commenting on President Obama’s 60 Minutes interview in which he said he was “skeptical from the get-go” about his administration’s failed policy of training Syrian rebels, WaPo’s David Ignatius on today’s Morning Joe called the president’s reaction “weird,” adding “he spoke almost like a man vindicated when a policy of his own administration had collapsed in failure. And he was, he took the line almost of, see, I told you so.”

This is what we see over and over in the way Obama operates. When his ill-thought-out ideas crater, Obama immediately blames everyone else. Republicans. Over zealous subordinates. The phase of the moon. It doesn’t matter because a pathological narcissist can never admit fault.