Editorial

The half billion dollar lesson

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Spending $500 million to train four or five moderate Syrian rebels is the perfect symbol of our convoluted Middle East strategy, if you can call our blundering attempts to impact the region a "strategy" at all.

Most of the rebels we tried to train took the weapons we gave them and what training they wanted, and went to rejoin whatever faction they came from.

Our instructions to those we trained was to fight Isis but to not fight the forces of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Now we are angry at Russia because it is supporting the Assad regime against rebels.

So we don't want the rebels to attack Assad, but we don't want anyone helping Assad and, by the way, we don't want to talk about how our allies the Turks and our allies the Kurds are killing each other. That's just not discussed in polite company.

The fact that we only got four or five fighters to go along with our schizoid pseudo-strategy is not all that surprising. What is amazing is that we got that many.

Republicans have long advocated arming moderate rebels in Syria. They apparently think they could do it better than Obama or maybe they would have done it during a limited window of opportunity for convoluted strategy to work.

So we're supposed to trust the Republican's Middle East expertise based on their previous plan to invade Iraq, destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, be welcomed as liberators, win the war in a few weeks, and have the whole thing be financed through oil revenues.

We don't think so.