Here we go again.
President Obama has asked Congress for half a billion dollars to support the rebels fighting the Syrian government. But, you are thinking, isn’t that group ISIS (sometimes referred to as ISIL), that consists of a ruthless group of Islamists that seeks to create a new state by combining Iraq and Syria, and whose ideology is so extreme that even al Qaeda washed its hands of them?
Ah, but Obama says he is not planning to fund that group. He is going to send the money to the ‘moderate’ opponents of the Syrian government.
There are two ways to see this. One is that this reveals extreme folly on his part that the US has the ability to identify ‘moderates’ in a conflict, given its awful track record in the past. (Humorist Andy Borowitz has proposed a questionnaire to help them out in this task.) As I have said before, big powers have repeatedly found that the protégés they groom to advance their agenda turn out to be uncontrollable monsters that turn on them once they are big enough. Juan Cole argues that even if the US identifies so-called moderates, they are weak and any arms and weapons given to them are likely to quickly end up in the hands of ISIS.
But when countries repeat policies that have repeatedly ‘failed’ in the past, it may be that they have private measures of success and failure that are different from what ordinary, humane people have. It may be that the real aim of the policy is to help continue the fighting indefinitely so as to destabilize the whole region and weaken all those countries that are not subservient to the US. Note that Saudi Arabia and the countries of the Emirates don’t seem to have any problems, Bahrain quickly suppressed its popular uprising, and Egypt returned to pretty much the status quo, while Libya continues to be a mess, and Lebanon looks next in line for destabilization.
Jon Stewart points out that while money seems to be always available for fighting purposes, there is never enough to fund important social services. That fact alone should tell us how corrupt the US government is.
(This clip aired on June 26, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)