Sunday October 18, 2015
We’ll just put this bluntly: when you, as a country, do something incredibly stupid from a foreign policy perspective, you open the door for your global critics and adversaries to i) call you out on it publicly, and ii) use your gross incompetence and general disregard for anything that even approximates common sense, to their geopolitical advantage.
And make no mistake, in Syria, Washington, Riyadh, and Doha did something incredibly stupid.
They financed, armed, and trained a hodgepodge of Sunni extremists in Syria in an attempt to destabilize a regime that was deemed to be unfriendly to the interests of the West and its regional allies.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but from the perspective of human suffering, the results have been simply horrific: hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced.
From a reputational perspective, the results have been equally catastrophic. Not only did the US, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have a hand in creating the group that ultimately morphed into what we never tire of characterizing as an insane band of white basketball shoe-wearing, black flag-waving, sword-wielding desert bandits bent on establishing a medieval caliphate, but subsequent efforts to arm and train “moderate” rebels were wildly unsuccessful, and the entire effort culminated in the embarrassing admission that the Pentagon’s latest “program” - designed to field 5,400 fighters by the end of the year - had only managed to produce “four or five” soldiers at a cost to the US taxpayer of $41 million.