A few weeks ago President Obama doubled down on Washington's failed strategy in the middle east by asking for another $500 million to "train and equip appropriately vetted elements of the moderate Syrian armed opposition."
If Joseph Heller were alive today, he would be having quite the laugh. But he would understand if you weren't laughing with him.
In Heller's dark comedy, Catch-22, the protagonist Captain John Yossarian, is befriended by Lieutenant Milo Minderbinder.
Minderbinder is a war profiteer during World War II. Eventually he begins contracting out to the Germans, with his forces often fighting on both sides of battles, including bombing his own squadron.
Milo was court-martialed for that, but his enterprise was so profitable that he is absolved of wrongdoing.
Arming "moderate" opposition forces in Syria has been the Washington strategy for years now. The problem is that even Washington knows that they aren't moderate. If they were moderate, the Obama Administration wouldn't have taken a legal precaution last year.
Last September, while Obama spoke of "vetted" forces from one side of his face, he did this from the other side.
President Obama waived a provision of federal law designed to prevent the supply of arms to terrorist groups to clear the way for the U.S. to provide military assistance to “vetted” opposition groups fighting Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.If these forces were truly "vetted" then this wouldn't have been necessary. In fact, just a week earlier Mother Jones Magazine reported just how flawed the vetting process was. The reality on the ground is that it is almost impossible to distinguish between the "good guys" and the "bad guys" in the Syrian civil war.
Some elements of the Syrian opposition are associated with radical Islamic terrorist groups, including al Qaeda, which was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa., in 2001. Assad’s regime is backed by Iran and Hezbollah.
The president, citing his authority under the Arms Export Control Act, announced today that he would “waive the prohibitions in sections 40 and 40A of the AECA related to such a transaction.”
In fact, the situation on the ground was worse than anything even the cynics could have guessed. A study by IHS Jane's, a defence consultancy, estimated that out of the 100,000 rebel fighters, 10,000 of them were jihadists, and another 35,000 were aligned with the jihadists. In fact, the number of true secular nationalists probably numbered at less than a tenth of the rebels.
The real kicker is that at the exact same time that President Obama was signing a waver against funding terrorists in Syria, IHS Jane's was reporting this:
Two factions linked to al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) - also know as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) - have come to dominate among the more extremist fighters, Mr Lister said.This was less than three months before ISIS took control of Falujah in Iraq, and only eight months before they seized half of Iraq. Is it a coincidence that we started arming "moderate" rebels in Syria, that were dominated by al-Nursa and ISIS (which have since merged), then they suddenly gain sweeping military success? Not likely.
In fact, there has been evidence that rebel weapons had been flowing to jihadists in Syria for some time.
Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats.While President Obama lifted the ban on giving weapons to terrorists in 2013, we were shipping heavy weapons to Syria at least a year earlier. The U.S. bought stockpiles of heavy weapons left over in Libya after the fall of Gaddafi. That includes anti-tank and anti-aircraft missles.
“The opposition groups that are receiving the most of the lethal aid are exactly the ones we don’t want to have it,” said one American official familiar with the outlines of those findings, commenting on an operation that in American eyes has increasingly gone awry.
in October we reported evidence indicating that U.S. agents — particularly murdered ambassador Chris Stevens — were at least aware of heavy weapons moving from Libya to jihadist Syrian rebels.That's October of 2012 when U.S. agents knew that our heavy weapons from Libya were going to jihadists in Syria.
Speaking of Libya, there is an impression that it is better off now, despite the fact that Libya's Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz has asked the U.N. for peacekeeping forcesand is warning that Libya is becoming a failed state.
Meanwhile in Iraq, the government attempt at retaking Tikrit from ISIS has ended in complete failure. It was the worst defeat since the post-Mosul surge of a month ago.
So what do we do, Mister Heller? We double down, of course.
The disintegration of Iraq is the result of U.S. policies that, since 2003, have been strikingly devoid of coherence or any real comprehension when it comes to the forces at play in the country or the region. They have had about them an aura of puerility, of “good guys” versus “bad guys,” that will leave future historians stunned. Worst of all, they have generated a modern-day Middle Eastern Catch-22 in which all sides are armed, funded, and supported directly or indirectly by Washington or its allies.And yet, in typical American fashion based on both hubris and ignorance, the American public generally believes that Iraq's instability is because we withdrew our forces, not because we invaded and armed the militants.