Friday, July 31, 2015

When does farce itself become a threat?

That's the question The American Interest asks about the Obama administration's continued bumbling in Syria, after word got out that our trained Syrian troops -- already an embarrassment because there were only 60 of them when we had promised to find and train 4,500 -- were attacked by an al Qaeda affiliate and nearly half of them were captured or killed.
The Middle East is a region where perceptions of strength matter—almost as much as actual strength. And the image of a bloated, remote superpower that can only field 60 fighters (at the cost of millions), loses nearly half of them, and seems not to know it, is one that projects weakness and invites further attacks.

Of course, one of the reasons Washington isn’t a-flutter about these developments is that we know they’re trivial—that we could change things in an instant on the ground if we really wanted to. But therein lies the rub: If the Administration never stirs itself to act, all our potential might adds up to nothing more than 60 (now 37) guys, and impotence.
The next president is going to have a hell of a time repairing our reputation abroad, and in the Middle East specifically.

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