Writing about Syria is depressing because both major American political parties -- along with most of the media -- have committed themselves to a narrative divorced from any semblance of reality.
Russia has come to the aid of Syria, and my response comes down to two words: Thank God
. Yet our journalists and opinion-shapers have responded very differently. Doubling down on their "New Cold War" propaganda, the newsfakers are telling us to hiss Putin because he has committed the sin of making war against Al Qaeda.
In this topsy-turvy storyline, Al Qaeda has been rehabilitated. They are now viewed as noble and lovable, sort of like the oppressed Mexican farmers in The Magnificent Seven
. And Vladimir Putin is Eli Wallach.
As we documented earlier today, Russia wasted no time launching strikes against anti-regime targets once the country's lawmakers gave the official go-ahead and the West wasted no time accusing Russia of breaking protocol by targeting "modetrate" Syrian rebels (like al-Qeada) that aren't aligned with ISIS.
The bottom line going forward is that the US and its regional and European allies are going to have to decide whether they want to be on the right side of history here or not, and as we've been careful to explain, no one is arguing that Bashar al-Assad is the most benevolent leader in the history of statecraft but it has now gotten to the point where Western media outlets are describing al-Qaeda as "moderate" in a last ditch effort to explain away Washington's unwillingness to join Russia in stabilizing Syria. This is a foreign policy mistake of epic proportions on the part of the US and the sooner the West concedes that and moves to correct it by admitting that none of the groups the CIA, the Pentagon, and Washington's Mid-East allies have trained and supported represent a viable alternative to the Assad regime, the sooner Syria will cease to be the chessboard du jour for a global proxy war that's left hundreds of thousands of innocent people dead.
Over the past two years, we've heard a lot about the very real crimes of ISIS -- yet the United States has done little or nothing to combat the jihadis in Syria. In fact, we created the problem in the first place
In recent times, we've spent enormous amounts of money arming the (mostly fictitious) "moderates" in Syria -- the ones who are always described as "vetted." Funny thing about those vetted moderates: They have a terrible habit of letting ISIS and Al Qaeda capture all of that fancy equipment. Oopsie. For two years, it has been one oopsie after another.
Cah-MON. Even a kid should be able to see what's really going on here. Marcy Wheeler
has it figured out:
More recently, Adam Johnson caught NYT and Vox pretending CIA’s efforts don’t exist at all.
This past week, two pieces—one in the New York Times detailing the “finger pointing” over Obama’s “failed” Syria policy, and a Vox “explainer” of the Syrian civil war—did one better: They didn’t just omit the fact that the CIA has been arming, training and funding rebels since 2012, they heavily implied they had never done so.
To be fair, some intelligence reporters have done consistently good reporting on CIA’s covert war in Syria. But the policy people — especially the ones reporting how if Obama had supported “moderate” rebels sooner — usually pretend no one knows that Obama did support Qatar and Saudi-vetted liver-eating rebels sooner and they often turned out to be Islamists.
The selective ignorance about CIA’s covert operations in Syria seems to have been eliminated, however, with one Russian bombing run that targeted them.
Whatever Russia’s entry does for the tactical confrontation (I have no hopes it will do anything but make this conflict even bloodier, and possibly expand it into other countries), it has clarified a discussion the US has always tried to obscure. There are plenty of US backed forces on the ground — which may or may not be Islamic extremists (see Pat Lang on this point) — whose priority is toppling Bashar al-Assad, not defeating ISIS. While there will be some interesting fights about who they really are in coming days (and whether CIA has already acknowledged that it inflamed Islamists with its regime change efforts), American priorities will become increasingly clear.
Marcy goes on to say that she is not defending Vladimir Putin. On this point, she and I disagree: I do
have hopes that Russian involvement will help shrink ISIS. Now is the time to state out loud -- without cheap cynicism, without equivocation -- that Putin is doing the right thing, the heroic
thing. In just a few days, Russia has done more to destroy the jihadist maniacs than "the west" has done since 2013.