Epic fail: Obama ends $500 million training program for anti-ISIS rebels

The $500 million Pentagon program to train "secular" anti-ISIS rebels, which was supposed to be the cornerstone of our policy in Syria  has been terminated.

To say that our policy in Syria now is in "disarray" is incorrect. In truth, we have no policy in Syria except aimlessly bombing a few vehicles and buildings every day. 

Meanwhile, the administration is bragging that Russia's intervention in Syria is a sign of our "success."

The Russian airstrikes on Syria are a sign that U.S. policy is working, a senior State Department official told shocked Syrian-American advocates in a private meeting on Monday.

The “Russians wouldn’t have to help Assad if we didn’t weaken him,” U.S. special envoy for Syria Michael Ratney said, according to multiple participants in the meeting and contemporaneous notes. Russian intervention, he went on to say, is a sign of success for American policy on Syria.

The special envoy’s remarks come even as Russia began launching long-range cruise missiles into Syria from the Caspian Sea. It’s a move that Pentagon officials called an attempt to both emasculate the United States and support the Assad regime.

The spin from the White House is that Obama didn't want the training program anyway and he was "forced" to accept it.

Obama's argument, according to Baker, is that "he reluctantly went along with those who said it was the way to combat the Islamic State, but that he never wanted to do it and has now has been vindicated in his original judgment."

But some people who worked in Obama's administration disagree — and they're calling him out.

"It looks like the White House would like to blame its critics for its own operational illiteracy," Frederic Hof, a former special adviser for transition in Syria under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, told Business Insider over email. "I don't think I've ever seen any other administration employ 'the devil made me do it' argument to excuse and explain its own shortcomings."

"In this case a micromanaging White House saddled [the Defense Department] with something dead on arrival due to a lopsided anti-ISIL mission (one that tried to ignore Assad) and crippling vetting requirements," Hof added, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State, or ISIS.

Ryan Crocker, a retired career diplomat who was an ambassador to Afghanistan under Obama, echoed Hof's sentiments.

“How un-presidential that sounds — ‘We didn’t want to do it. We thought it was unsound, but you made us do it,’” Crocker told The Times. “It’s just indicative of their whole approach to Syria, which is not to have a policy. This is the worst thing they could say.”

Our "success" in weakening President Assad can be debated. We haven't supplied much in the way of arms to the rebels and the few thousand fighters the CIA has trained were recruited, armed, and paid for by the Gulf States. In fact, the 3rd iteration of our Syria policy represents an even greater faiilure than the other two policies we've had since 2012. 

With Russia calling the shots in Syrian air space, it may efven reach the point where President Putin will invite us to leave. No doubt the president will gratefully accept Mr. Putin's invitation and turn this disaster into the biggest foreign policy blunder in decades.

The $500 million Pentagon program to train "secular" anti-ISIS rebels, which was supposed to be the cornerstone of our policy in Syria  has been terminated.

To say that our policy in Syria now is in "disarray" is incorrect. In truth, we have no policy in Syria except aimlessly bombing a few vehicles and buildings every day. 

Meanwhile, the administration is bragging that Russia's intervention in Syria is a sign of our "success."

The Russian airstrikes on Syria are a sign that U.S. policy is working, a senior State Department official told shocked Syrian-American advocates in a private meeting on Monday.

The “Russians wouldn’t have to help Assad if we didn’t weaken him,” U.S. special envoy for Syria Michael Ratney said, according to multiple participants in the meeting and contemporaneous notes. Russian intervention, he went on to say, is a sign of success for American policy on Syria.

The special envoy’s remarks come even as Russia began launching long-range cruise missiles into Syria from the Caspian Sea. It’s a move that Pentagon officials called an attempt to both emasculate the United States and support the Assad regime.

The spin from the White House is that Obama didn't want the training program anyway and he was "forced" to accept it.

Obama's argument, according to Baker, is that "he reluctantly went along with those who said it was the way to combat the Islamic State, but that he never wanted to do it and has now has been vindicated in his original judgment."

But some people who worked in Obama's administration disagree — and they're calling him out.

"It looks like the White House would like to blame its critics for its own operational illiteracy," Frederic Hof, a former special adviser for transition in Syria under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, told Business Insider over email. "I don't think I've ever seen any other administration employ 'the devil made me do it' argument to excuse and explain its own shortcomings."

"In this case a micromanaging White House saddled [the Defense Department] with something dead on arrival due to a lopsided anti-ISIL mission (one that tried to ignore Assad) and crippling vetting requirements," Hof added, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State, or ISIS.

Ryan Crocker, a retired career diplomat who was an ambassador to Afghanistan under Obama, echoed Hof's sentiments.

“How un-presidential that sounds — ‘We didn’t want to do it. We thought it was unsound, but you made us do it,’” Crocker told The Times. “It’s just indicative of their whole approach to Syria, which is not to have a policy. This is the worst thing they could say.”

Our "success" in weakening President Assad can be debated. We haven't supplied much in the way of arms to the rebels and the few thousand fighters the CIA has trained were recruited, armed, and paid for by the Gulf States. In fact, the 3rd iteration of our Syria policy represents an even greater faiilure than the other two policies we've had since 2012. 

With Russia calling the shots in Syrian air space, it may efven reach the point where President Putin will invite us to leave. No doubt the president will gratefully accept Mr. Putin's invitation and turn this disaster into the biggest foreign policy blunder in decades.