"ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror"—Michael Weiss on the Syrian Quagmire

Erratic American policy toward ISIS and Syria may have exacerbated a complex, intractable conflict.


Originally published on Oct 15, 2015

"I'm out of solutions here," says Michael Weiss, a senior editor at The Daily Beast and co-author of the New York Times bestseller, ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, widely viewed as the most comprehensive study of the brutal Islamist entity that controls a wide swath of land between Iraq and Syria.

Speaking with Reason TV about U.S. involvement in the disastrous Syrian civil war, Weiss laments, "I can speak glibly about no-fly zones, but at this point I just understand this administration is never going to do anything to rescue the Syrian people or prevent Assad, Iran, and Russia from killing everybody they want to."

Weiss, a foreign affairs reporter with extensive experience covering the Middle East and Russia, believes that the U.S. had options besides war that could have prevented the refugee crisis becoming the global fiasco it is today. But, charges Weiss, President Obama's determination to achieve a nuclear deal with Iran meant he refused to pursue policies that might disrupt Assad's Syria. 

With Russian jets bombing non-ISIS rebel groups in Syria and Obama leaving office in early 2017, Weiss "guarantees the following: Assad will still be in Damascus. ISIS will still be in Syria [and] eventually Russia will bomb ISIS, but they haven't really been doing it yet."

Produced by Anthony L. Fisher. Camera by Jim Epstein with help from Dan Rogenstein.

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25 responses to “"ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror"—Michael Weiss on the Syrian Quagmire

  1. Long weekend for Reason staff or contagion? PM links at 4:40pm, drone story at 9pm, and now a re-post on Saturday. Not even a Linneken food story.

    1. You could always join Matt Welch as he suffers on the Melissa Joan-Hart show on MSNBC now, and comment on it on his post.

      1. I could but (a) don’t have cable and (b), as I noted yesterday:

        Can’t do it. Used to watch the versions at Reason. But sitting thru the derp from the other guests is intolerable.

        However, the honor of having my first post on a thread responded to be FoE has made my day already.

        1. Your Saturday is all downhill from here.

          1. As a Kansas fan, that was pretty much guaranteed.

          2. Cal has the weekend off. It’s so selfish.

    2. There’s a Linneken drinks story on the main page.

      1. Ah, thank you. Clearly I am not paying attention today.

        1. I never claimed I was a good cook!

  2. I can’t watch Weiss speak authoritatively on the Middle East mess without being on edge waiting for Kennedy to jump in and cut him off mid-point.

  3. eventually Russia will bomb ISIS

    Is that such a bad thing?

    1. Not necessarily. I read/heard something the other day (can’t remember where) that argued Putin plans to pummel everyone else in the conflict. Once he’s destroyed the alternatives, he comes to Western leaders and says, “well, it’s Assad or ISIS, who do you want Russia to destroy?”

      1. That’s exactly his plan.

        He will wind up with the world begging him to establish a Soviet client state in the Mideast, with Mediterranean ports.

        1. He will wind up with the world begging him to establish a Soviet client state in the Mideast, with Mediterranean ports.

          So back to the 60’s and 70’s status quo, basically.

          1. Well, now it also has nuclear-armed Iran as its partner in asserting control over the region.

        2. At this point in history, would that be such a tragedy? Weiss seems very knowlegable about the facts on the ground, but it sounds a lot like what he’d prescribe is American advisors on the ground, training ARVN troops and attempting to win the hearts and minds of the Syrian people.

      2. Russia is simply practicing sound military strategy. Look at the map. The areas controlled by ISIS are by and large to the East of areas controlled by Al Qaeda/FSA. If Russia and Syria want to get to ISIS, they need to destroy Al Qaeda/FSA first. Well, they could just randomly drop bombs without any ground support, but that would be stupid and ineffective and Russia doesn’t have the resources to waste on stupid and ineffective tactics (unlike the US). Furthermore, right now Al Qaeda/FSA are not just in between Syria and ISIS, they are also posing a serious offensive threat to government held positions.

  4. “The historian never traffics in counterfactuals, you’ll make a fool of yourself.”

    Are you listening, Ben Carson!?

    1. Hmm, that seems like a “generally speaking” statement rather than something that’s true all the time.

      1. It has to be. Counterfactuals are a routine tool for evaluating the plausibility of a hypothesis.

  5. Hey, does anyone remeber how Obama was going to pursue a nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia, back in ’09 ’10 ?


    1. Let’s not be too judgemental. Obama inherited a mess, so nothing is his fault.

  6. Oh come on, Weiss is a hack for the Zionist regime in Israel and is still squealing about the lack of a bombing campaign in Iran.

    The bottom line is that not one of the 16 US intelligence agencies think Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

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