Obama to fight Islamic State AND Syrian President Assad?

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On Yahoo! News, we read:

The U.S. and its allies are trying to hammer out a coalition to push back the Islamic State group in Iraq… That, however, is far more complicated. If it launches airstrikes against the group in Syria, the U.S. runs the risk of unintentionally strengthening the hand of President Bashar Assad, whose removal the West has actively sought the past three years. Uprooting the Islamic State group, which has seized roughly a third of Syria and Iraq, may potentially open the way for the Syrian army to fill the vacuum.

The alternative would be to finally get serious about arming the mainstream Western-backed rebels fighting to topple Assad. But there is a reason the administration of President Barack Obama has been deeply reluctant to throw its weight behind them.

The relatively moderate rebel factions fighting in Syria are in tatters. There are no secular groups, and the strongest factions are Islamic groups, many of which work with al-Qaida’s official branch in Syria, the Nusra Front…

The U.S. signaled back in June that it hopes to enlist moderate Syrian opposition fighters in the battle against militant extremists. Obama sent Congress a $500 million request for a Pentagon-run program that would significantly expand previous covert efforts to support rebels.

Still, such a program faces the same questions hanging over U.S. policy the past three years — how to distinguish “moderate” rebels from others in an increasingly radical landscape and how to ensure weapons only reach those groups.

Am I the only one who reads this and marvels at the sheer insanity of what’s going on here? I sure hope not.

Let’s get this straight: the US government is upset about ISIS and wants to go to war. The US government wants to build a coalition, mainly of NATO states. You know who else opposes ISIS and has been at the front lines against them for almost 3 years? Bashar Assad, the much-maligned President of Syria. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”, right? Not so fast. The US government just spent the past 3 years giving money and guns to Syrian rebels fighting against Assad (much of which we can be sure fell into ISIS’ hands). In fact, almost exactly one year ago, Secretary of State John Kerry basically called Assad the Adolf Hitler of the Middle East.

Now the US government has a problem. On the one hand, they want to take down ISIS. But on the other hand, they want to get rid of Bashar Assad, who is also fighting ISIS. They are concerned that taking down ISIS will work in Assad’s favor, which it would. So somehow, they apparently need to find a way to destroy ISIS in Syria while also destroying Bashar Assad. After all, joining forces with Bashar Assad now would make John Kerry look mighty stupid after comparing him to Hitler only a year ago.

I don’t know about you, but compared to ISIS, I think Bashar Assad looks more like Winston Churchill than Adolf Hitler. I have no doubt that Assad is a rotten guy, but his regime looks like a glittering beacon of civilization compared to the primal violence and madness of ISIS. In fact it really is, relatively speaking. I’ll take Bashar Assad over Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi any day.

American foreign policy in the Middle East is beyond confused; it is an outrageously contradictory mess that generates one societal catastrophe after another. The US government always has some bogeyman in the Middle East that they want to throw at us. There is always some major threat that the US government gets everyone all goosed up about. The US government invariably intervenes, which always creates the conditions for the next catastrophe a few years later. Meanwhile, the Middle East seems to hate us more and more with each passing year (and with good reason), which produces ripe grounds for radical Islamic groups like ISIS to pick up recruits. ISIS, like basically every other major proclaimed “threat” in the Middle East, was ultimately created by fault of the US government. Of course, they will never admit this.

At some point, I really hope the US public wakes up. In this regard, I am somewhat optimistic. I think there is a growing discontent amongst Americans with our state of perpetual war, especially in the Middle East. But the discontent is still restricted to little more than grumbling. While the public still tolerates the military-industrial complex, it will continue to operate. The foreign policy elites need endless enemies and bogeymen to keep the military-industrial complex going. As it stands, they seem to have all the bogeymen they need.

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