A previous post may have given a false impression. Last week, General Austin appeared before McCain’s committee and said that in a year of operation the 500 million dollar Pentagon train-and-equip Syrian rebel program had managed to put only “four or five” fighters into Syria. (Later, officials said another 70 had hit the ground, but the most recent reports suggest many of these have given up their arms to al-Nusra for safe passage.)
I pointed out how convenient an excuse this failure of the proxy program is for hawks, who believe only US ground troops will achieve the desired objective in Syria, whether that be construed as defeating ISIS, securing Syria’s destabilization for decades, or removing Assad, the one point all agree upon. Too late however, for Putin foresaw the move, and now has blocked it.
It should be obvious from what I’ve said elsewhere that the US has had its hands all over the Syrian crisis and chaos. To an extent, the US directs its coalition partners in their train-and-equip programs, often with its own advisors and trainers. However, to an extent, these deputized trainers like Turkey, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, each with their own interests, may take over the strings to their proxies.
Operational autonomy also seems to be granted at each level, — necessarily so — allowing the lower ones to play off against the upper, and requiring continual and evolving ‘deal-making’. So, al-Nusra now seems especially close to Turkey, but General Petraeus would like to buy them off, excuse me, convince some of their moderates to fight for US. Incidentally, these “strings” present a perfect little picture of ‘warfare welfare’ during the Dominion of the Petrodollar: oil goes one way, arms and soldiers, paid for by tax dollars, go the other.
The capture of the Pentagon-trained rebels by al-Nusra, by one account due to a Turkish tip-off, points to the need for the US to have its own proxies, if not its own people, on the ground. Is it likely they would forget that? Indeed, our own train-and-equip programs are not limited to those paltry numbers fielded by the Pentagon, nor to our efforts to co-opt Syrian proxies we’ve leased out to coalition partners like Turkey in the first place. Far from it.
Today FAIR published an excellent remedy to such thinking. Adam Johnson’s “Down the Memory Hole: The New York Times Erases CIA’s Syrian Interventions ” documents the systematic mass-media brushing-aside of evidence that the CIA has an extensive and highly successful program of rebel training underway. While the Pentagon’s pathetic performance momentarily captured headlines, the most extensive training program is a Langley VA creation. Don’t think that doesn’t mean your tax dollars aren’t paying for that too (dear US readers).
This program is far larger than anything the Pentagon has contemplated. It runs a billion dollars a year and is several years ongoing. Unlike the bumbling Pentagon, the CIA program has been quite successful: reportedly, it has landed 10,000 fighters in Syria (a country the size of Oregon). These are “unvetted” for what US vetting is worth; effectively, that means they don’t have to say they are “moderate”. Unsurprisingly, reports suggest these move in steady streams to the al-Nusra and ISIS fronts, carrying their arms. Neither the program nor its chaotic effects in Syria are taken into account in US media. Rather, the facts about concrete US involvement disappear “down the memory hole,” as Adam Johnson puts it, and behind the charade that is McCain’s Bluster and Austin’s Apology