US Syrian policy getting everyone mad at us

Pretty rough treatment of the Obama administration in this New York Times piece on our Syria policy.

The contradictions are obvious. We're fighting ISIS. President Assad is fighting ISIS. But we have an announced policy of getting rid of Assad. But we're helping Assad by bombing the most effective force fighting against him.

And when your head stops spinning, you will be exactly in the same place that most rational people in the world are; total confusion.

American and Syrian warplanes screamed over the Syrian city of Raqqa in separate raids this week, ostensibly against the same target, the Islamic State militants in control there.

“The fundamental disconnects in U.S. strategy have been exposed and amplified” as Islamic State militants have advanced in central Syria in recent weeks, said Emile Hokayem, a Syria analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Like Mr. Assad’s opponents, he contends that extremists cannot be defeated without ending decades of harsh Assad family rule and empowering the disenfranchised Sunni Muslims who drive the insurgency.

In the first raid, on Sunday, United States warplanes hit an Islamic State building, with no report of civilian casualties. On Tuesday, Syrian jets struck 10 times, killing scores of civilians, according to residents and Islamic State videos.

The back-to-back strikes, coming just days after President Bashar al-Assad of Syria declared that the West needed to side with him in “real and sincere” cooperation to defeat the extremist group, infuriated Syrians who oppose both Mr. Assad and the Islamic State. They see American jets sharing the skies with the Syrians but doing nothing to stop them from indiscriminately bombing rebellious neighborhoods. They conclude, increasingly, that the Obama administration is siding with Mr. Assad, that by training United States firepower solely on the Islamic State it is aiding a president whose ouster is still, at least officially, an American goal.

Their dismay reflects a broader sense on all sides that President Obama’s policies on Syria and the Islamic State remain contradictory, and the longer the fight goes on without the policies being resolved, the more damage is being done to America’s standing in the region.

More than two months after the campaign against the Islamic State plunged the United States into direct military involvement in Syria, something Mr. Obama had long avoided, the group has held its strongholds there and even expanded its reach. That has called into question basic assumptions of American strategy.

One is that the United States can defeat the Islamic State without taking sides in Syria’s civil war. Another is that it can drive the group out of Iraq while merely diminishing and containing it in Syria, pursuing different approaches on each side of a porous border that the Islamic State seeks to erase.

Whoever told our president that we could bomb ISIS in Syria and not help get rid of Assad should be fired. It's nonsense. There comes a point where our policy is  making more enemies than friends and should be either abandoned or radically altered; i.e., joining the fight against Assad. I say let the rebels - including Islamic State - defeat Assad and then sort out the aftermath by themselves. Considering how disastrously our intervention worked out in Libya, it would appear to be the only policy that makes sense.

But given our current actions, common sense doesn't enter into the calculation.

When will we ever learn?

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