While Obama desperately tries to stick to his now crushed "Nobel peace prize winner" image, by not succumbing to an all-out land war in the one nation where his progressive "pacifism" brought him fame (and according to some, the presidency), namely Iraq, the rest of militant, "interventionist" US foreign policy is rapidly starting to resemble that waged by the most brutally rabid, neo-con Republican leader. Case in point an absolute stunner reported minutes ago by the WSJ, according to which the White House has decided to provide pickup trucks equipped with mounted machine guns and radios for calling in U.S. airstrikes to some moderate Syrian rebels aided by American B-1B bombers!
According to the WSJ, the planes would drop 500- and 2,000-pound guided bombs, a typical load for the B-1s that have operated in Afghanistan as well as Syria. Using the B-1’s sniper pod, which allows the aircrew to precisely target moving objects, the crew could target tanks, motorcycles and other moving vehicles.
Finally all that near-record lobby spending by Boeing, maker of the B-1B Lancer will come in handy.
Do note: only moderate Syrian rebels will be given control over US military equipment, certainly not the more extreme Syrian rebels such as the Al Nusra front, various Al Qaeda splinter cells and of course, the various ISIS progenitor groups which the US is "fighting" this very moment!
That's just one part of it: as part of America's creation of its next well-equipped, well-armed, well-trained and very lethal adversary in 2-4 years time, when the "moderate" Syrian rebels are found to have been quite "extreme", the U.S. will also start training rebels, pardon - moderate rebels - who are "waging a two-front fight against the extremists and Syrian regime forces."
The projected timeline of the brilliant US plan:
The first training sessions are to last between six and eight weeks. The training will focus on helping the rebel forces hold territory and counter Islamic State fighters—not to take on the Syrian army.
After that the U.S. will consider introducing what it is calling “the new Syrian force” onto the battlefield in Syria, officials said.
A team of four to six rebels will each be given a Toyota Hi-Lux pickup, outfitted with a machine gun, communications gear and Global Positioning System trackers enabling them to call in airstrikes. The fighters will also be given mortars, but the administration hasn’t decided to provide the teams with more sophisticated antitank weapons.
Of course, the battle to give Qatar free passage of its natural gas pipeline across Syria is not new (recall: "Mystery Sponsor Of Weapons And Money To Syrian Mercenary "Rebels" Revealed"): "the Central Intelligence Agency began a covert program to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels in 2013, providing ammunition, small arms and antitank weapons to small groups of trusted fighters. While that program continues, it is widely viewed as having fallen well short of its aims."
This time will be different, however, because "the new military program is supposed to train a larger number of fighters and, with the addition of air support, officials say they hope it will have a more dramatic impact on the battlefield."
The real question, however, is dramatic impact against whom? The real answer: not ISIS, which is just a strawman to finally topple Qatar's, pardon, America's real enemy in the region, Syria's Assad.
And therein lies the rub, because this entire operation has nothing to do with suppressing an ISIS which has seemingly specialized in making Hollywood quality straight to YouTube decapitation videos, and everything to do with finally crushing al Assad's regime, something the US started in 2013 with the infamous YouTube clip of chemical weapons which nearly turned into an all out war before Russia intervened and halted what could well have been a global war.
Sure enough: "The administration also has been grappling with legal and policy issues—including the highly charged question of whether to confront Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ’s forces if they engage the American-trained rebels."
And the problem, as Zero Hedge readers knows very well, is that a green light by Obama allowing the "moderate" rebels to fight Assad's soldiers and regime, is just a matter of time. At which point the only pending question is how will Russia respond, because then Putin will have no choice but to defend his strategic natgas territorial interest using military means. Which is when the previously noted proposal of retaliating on US-ally Saudi Arabia becomes a very distinct possibility.
Which is where the latest Obama plan runs into difficulties: how to continue pretending that the "war" is against ISIS when in reality it is all about Assad:
U.S. officials don’t know whether American planes will be able to provide air support if the moderate forces it trains get in a fight not with Islamic State, but with forces loyal to the Syrian president.
Because the U.S. isn’t at war with Syria, U.S. military lawyers are wrestling with the question of whether American warplanes would have legal authorization to strike Mr. Assad’s forces, even to support a U.S.-trained rebel force.
Aside from the legal issues, officials also said that, as a policy question, the White House hasn't given a green light to supporting the rebels if they get into a battle with the Syrian military.
One thing is certain: with the help of his new warhawks, neo-confriends, Obama will quickly transform what is supposedly a war on ISIS (which recall in August started as an isolated humanitarian intervention that would promptly end) into its true essence: an undeclared war on the Syrian regime.
Some Republican lawmakers, including Sens. John McCain (R., Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), have been critical of what they see as a U.S. campaign in Syria that is too narrow to succeed. "How can we train up a Free Syrian Army or send any other force into Syria if we don’t first deal with the Assad air threat,” Mr. Graham said at a confirmation hearing this month for incoming Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
Some countries believe it should expand to take on the Assad regime. Others believe it would be a mistake to dilute the focus, and say attacking the Assad forces could quickly help Islamic State grow stronger.
Officials said that expanding the war to the Assad forces could fracture the international coalition gathered to fight Islamic State.
Which means in the coming weeks and months look forward to a surge in false flag "attacks" blamed on the Assad regime, aiming to give Obama validation to expand the "War against ISIS" to include Syria's regime as well.
What this would do, is create a whole new coalition, one backed by Russia and various other non-Western alligned nations, which will support the Syrian president in what will ultimately be a replica of the near-global war outcome from the summer of 2013.
And while the whole thing is so stupid that it would be hilarious if it wasn't tragic, the biggest non-sequitor in the entire plan is also the most basic question: just how will the US discern which of the Syrian "rebels" are moderate, which we assume means will only fight against US enemies, as opposed to extremist, such as all those Syrian "rebels" the US armed in 2013 only for them to be subsequently revealed as al Qaeda and ISIS predecessors.
Actually, it is neither hilarious nor tragic. Conveniently, none other than Andy Borowitz provided the blueprint by which the US government should proceed when sorting out the "moderates" from the merely homicidally Jidahist, decapitation-happy elements:
From the Borowitz Report:
Welcome to the United States’ Moderate Syrian Rebel Vetting Process. To see if you qualify for $500 million in American weapons [ZH: and US taxpayer-funded air support], please choose an answer to the following questions:
As a Syrian rebel, I think the word or phrase that best describes me is:
B) Very moderate
C) Crazy moderate
I became a Syrian rebel because I believe in:
C) The American Way
D) Creating an Islamic caliphate
If I were given a highly lethal automatic weapon by the United States, I would:
A) Only kill exactly the people that the United States wanted me to kill
B) Try to kill the right people, with the caveat that I have never used an automatic weapon before
C) Kill people only after submitting them to a rigorous vetting process
D) Immediately let the weapon fall into the wrong hands
I have previously received weapons from:
A) Al Qaeda
B) The Taliban
C) North Korea
D) I did not receive weapons from any of them because after they vetted me I was deemed way too moderate
I consider ISIS:
A) An existential threat to Iraq
B) An existential threat to Syria
C) An existential threat to Iraq and Syria
D) The people who will pick up my American weapon after I drop it and run away
Complete the following sentence. “American weapons are…”
A) Always a good thing to randomly add to any international hot spot
B) Exactly what this raging civil war has been missing for the past three years
C) Best when used moderately
D) Super easy to resell online
Thank you for completing the Moderate Syrian Rebel Application Form. We will process your application in the next one to two business days. Please indicate a current mailing address where you would like your weapons to be sent. If there is no one to sign for them we will leave them outside the front door.