Wednesday, February 19, 2014


I don't imagine anybody is surprised that the Syrian "peace talks" failed.  Syria is a mess.

Now the Obama administration is being pressed to "do something," but it's very unclear whether anything at all can be done.  The Free Syrian Army is a joke; ISIS is operating across a completely porous Iraqi border; al Nusra, the al Qaeda affiliate al Qaeda still recognizes, is not up to defeating Assad's forces, especially if it has to simultaneously fight off ISIS; Assad has been strengthening his position, backed by Hezbollah, the Iranian QUDS force, and a lot of heavy armament from Russia.

Clearly, Americans have no stomach for military action after losing both in Iraq and, soon, Afghanistan.  We might give the Saudis the go-ahead to provide more advanced weapons to rebel groups, but knowing the Saudis, the weapons will wind up in the hands of jihadis.

The only positive contribution by the United States I can imagine is a broad increase in humanitarian aid for the vast numbers of refugees in Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Lebanon — but providing that aid should not involve any branch of the armed forces.  Given how the Agency for International Development has had close ties to the CIA throughout its history, AID also might be a bad choice.

The best bet would be to channel additional aid through organizations already on the ground, like the Red Crescent and Doctors Without Borders.  Nobody in the Middle East wants any more Americans wandering around.

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