First, let’s agree on something: There are no good guys anywhere in the Mideast. None. There are surely good people — the families getting maimed and slaughtered as a way for fanatics to keep score — but there are no groups, rebel or government or young gangs just in it for the murder, who don’t share an abiding hatred for the West. None of them want what we want; they just want what we have. To them, America means hardware they can’t make.
President Obama wants to train the rebels in Syria so they can punish ISIS for beheading our people on YouTube. Because training surrogate fighters has worked so well in the past. You train them and train them, and then they either turn the weapons against you (Afghanistan), or drop them at the first sign of trouble (Iraq). We like these Syrian rebels at the moment because they’ve been battling an evil regime and have kept the video atrocities to an acceptable minimum. Remember that we liked Afghan mujahadeen too, when they were shooting down Russian helicopters. Later, not so much.
We just got out of Iraq. We accomplished diddly in a decade and left a bunch of tanks and Humvees so ISIS would have something to drive. Now, because of YouTube, we want to go back. President Obama says it’s just expanded airstrikes; the chairman of the Joint Chiefs allows that it could be more. It will be more. Missions do creep, and they only creep the one way.
Here at the Foreign Policy Korner Institute, we are too squeamish to watch beheading videos and we are still fuzzy on the differences between Shiite and Sunni. So we’d recommend destroying all the oil infrastructure currently held by ISIS and then strategically ignoring what happens on the ground in the sandlocked nations until, say, 2020. Then we’ll check back and see how things are going. Using drones, of course. Because it won’t be pretty.
In the meantime let’s just pretend we’re Canada.