This one focuses specifically on Syria, but the same applies throughout the Middle East, and always will.
Put simply, Syria is a clusterf%$# of American proportions—and it’s only getting worse the longer we stay there.
The Assad family has ruled Syria since the 1970s. They’ve been a perennial geopolitical problem for Washington since that time. When the Syrian people began revolting against the autocratic reign of Bashar al-Assad in 2011, everyone in Washington grew excited. Soon, calls from the Obama Administration to the effect that “Assad must go!” informed America’s official policy toward Syria.
From there, America’s intelligence services began acting in accordance with Obama’s proclamation. Groups of Syria’s rebels were armed and trained by CIA operatives. Meanwhile, the U.S. military began getting involved, selecting their own Syrian rebel factions to arm and train—without telling the intelligence agencies. Before long, American armed and trained Syrian rebels found themselves not only fighting Assad, but also each other (thereby negating whatever opportunity they had at overthrowing Assad).
It quickly became apparent that the competing factions of America’s military-intelligence complex were were not only fighting each other, but that many (if not all) of them were jihadist groups as committed to the destruction of the United States as they were to the overthrow of Assad in Syria. It was in Syria where ISIS built its caliphate. It is believed that ISIS fighters unwittingly may have been trained and equipped by the CIA in Turkey!
These facts about Syria’s opposition not only were ignored by Washington elites, but the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party continued to provide varying levels of support for the Syrian rebels (even as American troops went to Syria in order to decimate the ISIS caliphate that had grown there). America’s covert intelligence and military services had become lost in a wilderness of mirrors and shadows. Rather than step back from the situation and reassess, Washington just kept plunging forward, hoping that the problem would sort itself out with the right combination of American military aid and pressure.
Then came the added complication that Assad was being supported by Iran and Russia. Washington’s apparatchiks reasoned that the United States could not simply leave Syria then because to do so would be to hand the country over to Iran and Russia! Of course, under the Assad Regime, Syria has been a Russian client going back to the 1970s and an Iranian one going back to the 1980s. This is to say nothing of the fact that the Assad family belongs to the Alawite clan, which are a subgroup of the Shia Islam faith (and Iran is a predominantly Shiite state). Dislodging either Russia or Iran from Syria—without totally removing Assad from power—was a fantasy that only Washington’s uniparty could convince itself to believe.
Nevertheless, Washington chose to intensify its operations in Syria—risking war both with Russia and Iran, even as its Syrian “rebel” factions turned on America and each other.
As difficult to believe as you may think it—and it is—the story gets even more convoluted and clusterfuck-ish from there, with Turkey providing on object lesson on why NATO is useless, outmoded, unhelpful at best, and no longer worth the trouble or expense of preserving. It’s long past time for us to get out of Syria, among too many other withering conflicts that are draining our resources, exhausting our personnel, and grinding down our equipment—all to no good end, serving no legitimate national interest, in futile pursuit of no readily-identifiable goal. Just…clusterfuck, forever and ever, amen.