Will New US Training Program Produce More ISIS Fighters in Syria?

by | Jan 17, 2015


US involvement in Iraq War 3.0 was initially sold as a limited, humanitarian rescue operation to save members of a religious minority the administration claimed were threatened by ISIS’s long march through northern Iraq. Who could object to rescuing a poor religious minority without sounding like a complete monster?

As expected, many otherwise suspicious of the use of military force in the US embraced this mission as an example of how the US military can be used as a force for good. Principled non-interventionists found themselves surrounded on all sides by those clamoring for a humanitarian rescue mission. Opposition having been mostly neutralized, the mission, of course, was launched.

The foot was in the door.

Soon we were told that the operation needed to expand a bit to protect US diplomatic and military facilities in northern Iraq from the marauding hordes of ISIS. Who could object to using the military to protect US diplomatic and military personnel? Skeptics were accused of not caring about American citizens or perhaps even wishing them harm. No thought was given to simply evacuating US government personnel from northern Iraq in the face of danger, as the US did recently in Libya when US-sponsored “liberation” didn’t work out as planned and terrorists took over the country.

Then, in September 2014, we were told by the president that ISIS was the “greatest threat” to the American people and the military operation had to be expanded to include more airstrikes designed to, in the president’s words, “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS. This mission could be accomplished solely through airstrikes, he said, there would be no question of US boots again on the ground in Iraq.

Also in September we were told that because a group even more dangerous than ISIS, which the White House called the “Khorasan Group,” was operating in Syria, the US must begin bombing a sovereign country without its request or permission, thereby violating US and international law. The Khorasan Group turned out to be plain old al-Qaeda given a new, scary-sounding name. The “threat” was just some well-packaged propaganda put out by the Pentagon to serve as a pretext to bomb Syria. The Obama Administration had been denied that opportunity a year earlier as a public groundswell at home rose in opposition to the president’s plans to attack Syria.

Americans were not told by the Obama Administration that there were already boots on the ground and planes in the sky fighting ISIS in Syria — that is because those boots and planes belonged to Syrian President Assad, who the US had been working three years to overthrow. The US was against ISIS and against the enemies of ISIS. Many wondered whether such a contradiction could ever make sense in the real world.

Two months later, in November, we were told that the president has decided to double the number of boots on the ground that he promised would not be involved in Iraq. There would be thenceforth 3,000 American boots on the ground in Iraq. But they would not be combat troops, we were told.

The bombing continued. Civilians in Iraq and Syria continued to be killed by US and NATO bombs, including some 50 civilians killed in a single attack in early January. The strike was unannounced by the Pentagon and was discovered by media. A cover up of the disaster is suspected. The US has dropped more than 5,000 bombs on Iraq and Syria at a cost well over a billion dollars. ISIS continues to advance.

Then this week the mask fully slipped from the incrementalism of Iraq War 3.0 to reveal that…it was really all about Syria War 1.5! Though the US has been backing rebels, including imported jihadists (like the two shooters in the recent attack in Paris), in their attempt to overthrow secular Syrian president Assad, the Syrian Arab Army has been continually making slow but steady progress against the Islamist onslaught. The proxy war was not going according to US plan, partly due to the very low level of support among the population for the kind of radical Islam espoused by many of the US-backed rebels. The war had long ceased to be classifiable as a “peoples’ uprising” and in fact was very much a foreign invasion.

Then came perhaps the coup de grace. The Pentagon announced late last week that it would be sending up to 1,000 — and maybe more — US troops to the Middle East to begin training the forces seeking to overthrow Assad. The US would deploy its military forces to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar to begin training up to 5,000 rebels who would then infiltrate Syrian territory and carry out their orders.

The Pentagon promised that only “moderates” would qualify for the training program, but as we have seen numerous times in the recent past, the screening program leaves quite a bit to be desired. Late last year, two of the main rebel groups receiving weapons from the United States surrendered themselves and their weapons to al-Qaeda. This month alone, some 3,000 “moderates” from the US-backed Free Syrian Army defected to join ISIS.

How many more fighters will the US train for ISIS’s gain?

How are we to believe that the US is really at war with ISIS when it continues to take actions that result in the empowerment of ISIS and the weakening of the enemies of ISIS in the Syrian and Iranian governments? Will the American people find their voices again to stand up against a policy so incomprehensible it appears to have been drawn up by madmen?

And, importantly, we learned again earlier this month that blowback is real. Aggressive western policy in the Middle East creates enemies who will seek to strike back at what they view is the source of their misery and that of their families and friends. Paris shows us that 9/11 was not an anomaly. Interventionism in the Middle East and elsewhere is deadly for the citizens of those meddling countries. We are sold the false idea that we are over there so they won’t come over here, but in fact we have learned once again that they come over here because we are over there killing them by the thousands — directly and through proxies.

The interventionists are going to get us all killed if we don’t put a stop to them. As Ron Paul wrote in his assessment for 2015:

[W]hat we need to do is wake the American people up earlier and get them to realize that the resistance has to be heard from the people when the government is preparing for war, not after the war has begun or even ended.

That time is now.


  • Daniel McAdams

    Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and co-Producer/co-Host, Ron Paul Liberty Report. Daniel served as the foreign affairs, civil liberties, and defense/intel policy advisor to U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, MD (R-Texas) from 2001 until Dr. Paul’s retirement at the end of 2012. From 1993-1999 he worked as a journalist based in Budapest, Hungary, and traveled through the former communist bloc as a human rights monitor and election observer.

    View all posts
Copyright © 2024 The Ron Paul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.