Then I realized it was President Obama’s authentic plan for the U.S. military to vet Syrian rebel trainees against the Islamic State for Queensbury Rules, unflappability under stress or fatigue, and moderation I cried.
What kind of nation sends its men and women in uniform abroad to risk that last full measure of devotion based on a strategy that belongs in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party?
Think of the past.
The United States provided training and weapons to the South Vietnamese Army. They were regularly were sold, captured or abandoned to the Viet Cong or North Vietnamese Army.
The mujahideen forces in Afghanistan received training and weapons to oust the Soviet Union. Then they turned against the United States and its allies and perpetrated September 11, 2001.
U.S. weapons supplied to Libya’s rebels against Muammar Gaddafi were used to murder four Americans in Benghazi, including our ambassador. Others ended up with jihadists in Syria.
Weapons transferred to the Iraqi National Army are now in the hands of the Islamic State.
What worked for the United States under the Lend-Lease Act to assist Great Britain in World War II does not work with state or non-state actors holding different objectives with tyrannical ambitions.
Under Mr. Obama’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party plan, a U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) vetting of a Syrian rebel can be readily imagined:
CENTCOM: Are you a moderate?
REBEL: As former President William Jefferson Clinton might say, it depends upon the meaning of the word “a.”
CENTCOM: Don’t be flip. This isn’t about sex, it’s about jump-starting democracy and the rule of law in Syria after thousands of years of dormancy, and destroying the Islamic State.
REBEL: I have never encountered a moderate in the Middle East. There is constant killing and feuding within and among religious sects and secular dictators to see whom gets to persecute and brutalize whom. When your life is at stake is no time to search for an Aristotelian mean. You incinerated babies and children with atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki without weeping over the civilian casualties. A moderate in wartime is a contradiction in terms.
CENTCOM: Your insolence is unwelcome. Being the world’s sole superpower means never having to apologize for hypocrisy or double standards. We are here to help you in the spirit of altruism and the good Samaritan even if you don’t appreciate it. Just say you are a moderate and will fight by Queensbury Rules and we can go to the next question. We desperately need trainees like you to receive billions of dollars in congressional funding and to fulfill President Obama’s goal of graduating 5,000 rebel trainees in one year. Ghost trainees are no longer de rigueur.
REBEL: OK. I am a moderate. I promise never to risk killing a civilian. When is my first training check?
CENTCOM: Don’t jump the gun. The vetting has not concluded. I need to know whether you will stay calm under stress, fear and fatigue without a sedative. Can you provide me with medical records? When was the last time you visited a psychologist?
REBEL: I am as imperturbable under fire as Cool Hand Luke. I haven’t been able to visit a psychologist in years because they are all treating PTSD.
CENTCOM: We got burned in Afghanistan. We provided training and weapons to the mujahideen who proved to be ingrates by perpetrating the 9/11 abominations. I need you to promise that you will refrain from using the skills and weapons we provide you to kill us, just as we promised Muammar Gaddafi we would be friends if he abandoned weapons of mass destruction. Otherwise, you will flunk the vetting and lose your training stipend.
REBEL: Let me assure you like the Third Apparition in Macbeth that no harm to the United States shall come till Great Birnam Wood comes to high Dunsinane Hill.
CENTCOM: Stop speaking as if you were an Oracle at Delphi. I need a simple monosyllabic answer.
REBEL: Yes. I will honor my promises just as the United States honors its.
CENTCOM: Marvelous, we are on a path to destroy IS.
POSTSCRIPT: Three months into the rebel’s training he murders three of his American trainers.
There is nothing new under the sun.
In September 2012, Lara Logan of CBS News asked Gen. John Allen about insider murders of American soldiers by Afghans who had been trained and supported by the United States:
Logan: At a certain point, if these attacks continue, the American people are going to say, “We’ve had enough.” Right? “Why are we training these people if they’re murdering us?”
Allen: Well, that may be, in fact. It may be the voice right now that we’re hearing.
For more information about Bruce Fein, visit brucefeinlaw.