The idea that the U.S. can successfully arm and train “moderate” Syrian rebels is simply ludicrous. …We just tried that with the Iraqi army, for eight years, and it was an utter failure. This raises the question of what we ought to be doing instead.
The answer is containment. Don’t arm or bomb anyone in Syria. Keep supporting the Kurds and the Iraqi government, and keep watch from the sidelines. Undermine ISIS and similar groups by going after their sources of money and disrupting their international networks.
And for God’s sake, let’s build some moral authority by funding U.N. hunger programs.
Congress just about tripped over itself ponying up $500 million for bombing and arming random people in Syria (and apparently we just casually committed to spending a trillion bucks over the next three decades on upgrading our nuke supply?), while the U.N. World Food Program is cutting back its operations in Syria due to a shortfall of $352 million. This is at a time when [there are millions of refugees and internally displaced persons], with over 130,000 refugees fleeing ISIS forces streamed into Turkey just in the last few days.
We’re not going to do any of that, it seems. The U.S. government seems incapable of even the simplest sort of cost-benefit analysis. But if we really cared about the long-term effort against extremist groups, we ought to start by demonstrating that America is the kind of country that will spend at least as much to feed and clothe helpless refugees as it will on bombs and guns.
[Ryan Cooper, national correspondent writing in TheWeek.com]