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American Military Boots Are on the Ground in Syria, But Does President Obama Have a Plan?

"ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror" co-author Michael Weiss on how Obama allowed a bad situation to get worse in Syria.

American military boots, 50 of them, will soon be officially "on the the ground" in Syria to fight ISIS, something President Obama promised was not something he would consider. 

Is it too little too late? Or is it the beginning of yet another inept US military misadventure in the making?

Last month, Reason TV spoke with Michael Weiss, the co-author of ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, about why he has given up hope that the Obama Administration will ever develop a coherent foreign policy when it comes to battling ISIS. 

Original writeup below:

"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."

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  • Tundra, well-chilled.||

    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.

    Clearly, this guy Weiss has no idea how 4D chess is played.

  • Suell||

    If we had taken out Assad like the ejit in chief had wanted a while back we would have handed Syria right over to ISIS, then known as the JV squad.

  • Wizard with a Woodchipper||

    No.

  • Res ipsa loquitur||

    ISIS is contained - thus the light bringer has spoken.

  • BearOdinson||

    Fuck rescuing the Syrian people. If there was even a hint of an iota of a shred of some hope of liberty in someone fighting in Syria than perhaps.
    But right now there is a thuggish secular regime fighting to hold onto power against a murderous ideology that is spread throughout the globe. If it was just local dictator against local tribal thugs, fuck em. And until last night I was still saying fuck all of them let them kill each other, and maybe when they get tired we can do something to help the truly innocent caught in the middle. But now, we could support Assad in exchange for three major concessions (Give up claims to Golan Heights, stop supporting Hezbollah and dismantle chem weapons under US supervision). If he does that, then support him and Russia and bomb the fuck out of ISIS in both Syria and Iraq.

  • Rockabilly||

    Obama has no idea what he is doing

  • Res ipsa loquitur||

    Yes he does. Run out the clock and and hand the mess he created over to the next president all while blaming BuSH for his disasters. Simple.

  • See Double You||

    Is this Obama?

  • ||

    He never has. Everything he has done has been a failure. This is what happens when you indoctrinate a person from the cradle with lefty gibberish. They can't produce successful results because all of their premises that they operate on are wrong.

  • ||

    Obama and 'plan' are mutually exclusive. I think it's pretty clear after eight years the guy hasn't a clue on foreign policy.

    And.

    Yeah he bears some responsibility for ISIS but.....JOOOOOOSSSS!

  • Res ipsa loquitur||

    Is it JOOOOOOOOSSSSS ? I thought it was BOOOOOOOOSSSSHHHHHH !!!!!!!

  • ||

    JOOOBOOOOSSSHHH?

  • wareagle||

    of course, Obama has a plan. He gave a speech didn't he? What the hell else do you monsters demand of this man?

  • Not okay||

    I used to think we could placate these people somehow.

    I think when most of us put ourselves in the shoes of these people and try to see from their POV we can't understand it. So we instead replace the reasons they claim with our own reasons. We want to believe it's because they are oppressed or its poverty, or a reaction to something, anything but what they say. Those are reasons we can understand, at least a little.

    But it isn't true, they don't want democracy, or free speech, or human rights, or even wealth. They find those things abhorrent, and against the values they hold.

    Outside of submission there is nothing we could ever do to appease them.

  • ||

    You are correct. Most people think they are people just like us only they speak a different language and go to a different church. This is not the case. They do not hold our values. They do not think like us. They don't behave like us. They are completely different critters.

  • ||

    "they don't want democracy, or free speech, or human rights, or even wealth"

    If you're talking about ISIS, you are completely correct. If you're talking about the 1.4 billion Muslims around the globe, you're just being a moron.

  • Not okay||

    If take ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, the sympathizers, and countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran you have a sizeable portion of the Muslim world.

    Of those 1.4 billion, there is an inverse relationship to how peaceful they are to how Muslim.

    Pretend ISIS is unique if you want.

  • ||

    "If take ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, the sympathizers, and countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran you have a sizeable portion of the Muslim world."

    No you don't. All told, between all of these groups excluding the nations, you're talking about maybe hundreds of thousands, tops.

    Iran is a nation of nearly 80 million, Saudi Arabia about 32 million. Despite western propaganda, Iran has never in its history had a reputation for religious extremism - quite the opposite. ISIS and Iran are fighting each other, at the moment.

    "there is an inverse relationship to how peaceful they are to how Muslim"

    Only by your own definition - I have little doubt that non-violent Muslims wouldn't count as real Muslims in your book, even though hundreds of millions have never killed anyone.

    As I pointed out in the other thread, if anything like the percentage that you think is violent was actually violent, the mayhem would be orders of magnitude greater than it is.

  • wareagle||

    Iran has never in its history had a reputation for religious extremism - quite the opposite.

    That explains the Ayatollah and the mullahs. If you want to oust a dictator like the Shah, installing another dictator is a curious choice. And when there was a pro-democracy uprising during the days of the Arab not-so-Spring, Obama could not muster so much as an encouraging word while people were slaughtered.

  • ||

    "That explains the Ayatollah and the mullahs"

    Which is 35 years of the history of a country that has existing for 2,500.

    And in conversations I've had with Iranians who were in Iran during the '79 revolution, the revolution was not a theocratic one - it was started by students in the colleges who wanted western style democracy. Being college students, they didn't actually have a plan, just a lot of passion.

    The Ayatollah, who was in exile on account of being a totalitarian dick of a religious nut, *did* have a plan, and was simply waiting for a moment to carry it out. And boy did he get lucky.

    That Obama and the US Feds generally over the last 35 years have ignored the opportunities to help support the Democratic movements within Iran (which is in no way Arab) is sucky, but is not an indictment of Islam.

  • Win Bear||

    Yes, 2500 years of monarchies, theocratic, and dictatorships

  • wareagle||

    at some point, the silence of the 1.4 billion becomes acceptance. Violence in the name of Islam is not new. And no one in the Islamic community stopped it. By comparison, a few abortion clinic attacks were shouted down by pro-lifers as much as anyone else, absolutely no one supported either Tim McVeigh or Eric Rudolph, and the mass shooters have largely been unstable individuals. Islam repeatedly shows itself as having no place in a civilized society.

  • ||

    "Islam repeatedly shows itself as having no place in a civilized society."

    Except for all the civilized societies that are Muslim. How do you have a country of 80 million and not have it be civilized? Have you ever seen a picture of Tehran? Its not exactly tents and mud huts.

    "Violence in the name of Islam is not new"

    Violence is not new. Violence is always "in the name of" something, and it is always hypocritical.

    Violence in the name of Islam is in fact fairly new to the 20th century. Yes, I get that Islam first spread through conquest, back in an era when that was the way things were done. Christians behaved exactly the same way at that time.

    To say that Islam has some constant relationship with violence is to ignore the history of Asia and North Africa from about the 9th century forward.

    ISIS are assholes. I actually prefer the Arabic name that has been gaining currency among those silent Arabs who never ever criticize terrorists - Da'esh, which means essentially "thug."

    The fact that there are assholes in the ME doing violence against governments that have been doing violence to them (not just Western ones, but their own as well), does not mean that all Muslims are violent or that Islam is itself some polluted ideology that needs to be eradicated from the world.

  • wareagle||

    And which of these civilized societies is free of violence in the name of Islam or unsupportive of it? Why is it that the Syrian refugees cannot relocate to Jordan or Lebanon or Saudi Arabia or the other countries where the culture shock would be a non-issue?

    The Iran of 80 million people is an authoritarian society where people are killed for reasons sane folks might question. It is also a major exporter of terrorist activity and the only place whose pursuit of nuclear weapons is feared because of the belief that the Iranians might use them offensively. The rest of the nuclear nations are consistent in having them for deterrent purposes.

    The excuses for Islam grow tiresome, whether it's a fatwah for cartoons, beheading someone for not being the right flavor of Muslim, or a mass casualty incident in a place where people are just trying to be. It's a cancer and no amount of external effort will stop it from spreading. That has to come from inside and the resolve for that is not evident.

  • ||

    What society is free of violence?

    I agree that other ME countries should be involved in this discussion of what to do with refugees, and if they were being good Muslims, the Saudis and the UAE should offer to take them in, no doubt. I don't claim to know what's going on with that.

    Iran has a nervous and iron-fisted government at the moment, which has to do with its relative instability, which in turn has to do with the fact that religious fanatics have been over-empowered for the last 35 years and their citizens are clearly getting impatient with that. They are no worse than the Russian government. The problem is not Islam, it is paranoid, repressive governments.

    The only people who fear Iran actually using a nuclear weapon are people who have been listening to the deafening propaganda over the last 15 years. Pakistan has a much more unstable and militantly Islamist government, perhaps the most militantly Islamist government in the world, and they have nuclear weapons. If they haven't nuked anybody, Iran isn't going to.

    Lastly, complaining that the Muslim religion as a whole needs to be wiped out because some of them commit violence in the name of religion is some rich irony seriously lacking in self-awareness.

  • d3x / dt3||

    Thanks for this.

    I don't really understand the "why aren't all the other Muslims stopping the extremists?" shtick. If I'm some poor bastard just trying to survive, why would I pay attention to a random group of lunatics who just claim to have he same religion? Am I supposed to pick up the phone and call wareagle to make sure he knows how I feel?

    And why are we (Americans) not loudly protesting in the street when our government does something ugly. Like, say, BOMBING A HOSPITAL. Maybe because we, too, are just trying to survive and not attract the ire of our fearless leaders.

  • sasob||

    Outside of submission there is nothing we could ever do to appease them.

    That's because psychologically they are the ultimate control freaks.

  • ||

    4762 comments at CBC. We did 1415 last night. Come on Reason! WE'RE LOSING. I'm fed up of losing!

  • Raven Nation||

    Quality not quantity Rufus.

  • ||

    Don''t gimme dat!

  • Pan Zagloba||

    Reason don't get a billion dollars a year, Rufus. Hard to compete with those numbers!

  • ||

    A billion to build le beau Trudeau!

  • Pan Zagloba||

    With 15% performance bonus!

    Seriously. "Hey, public broadcaster, if I win, you get $150 million a year more."
    Such a shitty negotiator, they'd have given him blowjobs for free.

  • Res ipsa loquitur||

    The Koch Bros better work harder then !

  • Rhywun||

    Yahoo got 5000+ comments on some tweet that Rob Lowe twat. You are the worst if you want that for us.

  • d3x / dt3||

    Wait - Rufus is Nikki?

  • libertreee||

    Anthony Fisher was the producer of the late FBN show the INDEPENDENTS, and brought Michael Weiss on the show regularly. Weiss lied about the coup in the Ukraine, taking the line that the US had nothing to do with it.

    The INTERPRETER is the propaganda arm of the INSTITUTE OF MODERN RUSSIA, a neocon 501 (c) (3) that promotes "Democracy" ie regime change in Russia.

    Hezbollah is a legitimate political party in Lebanon as well as a militia. The US/ISRAEL/SAUDI ARABIA Axis of Evil hates it because it defeated the Israeli attacks in 2006 with 1,000 militia.

    Assad's opposition is al Queda and ISIS. The US has armed them for years, so has unclean hands and is at least partly for the deaths in that civil war.

    Assad is a protector of Alawites, a Shia sect, as well as Christians and Jews.
    Russia has 20 million muslims in its country. Russia sees itself as a protector of Christians in its near abroad. Damascas is only about 700 miles from Sochi.

    Iran is a theocracy, but is at least partly democratic. Women in Iran drive cars, go to school,only wear scarves, and sometimes not even that. . Iran teaches western science. Saudi Arabia does not.

    Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, with no political parties, no labor unions, nothing. Its women have no rights. They cannot drive, vote, go to school,etc. There are YOU TUBES of women being beheaded in the street by the morals police.

    Why does REASON publish this neocon crap?

  • Wizard with a Woodchipper||

    derp.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Derpity derp.

  • GILMORE™||

    "HELLO COMRADE! ISNT CAPITALISM GRAND?! WE ALSO LOVE CAPITALISM AND PEACE WITH OUR RUSSIAN FRIENDS, AND DO WE NOT ALSO HATE JEWS?""

  • Pan Zagloba||

    Hmmm.... I think you have stumbled upon the Syrian peace plan!

  • Juice||

    Iran sucks. Saudi Arabia sucks worse. Assad is a protector of the Assad regime, which unfortunately is the lesser evil in Syria right now. The US has armed the greater evil there, whether it was intentional or not. But, how the hell does any of those things make the stuff said above neocon?

  • d3x / dt3||

    I think the overarching point here is that, when looking at American foreign policy, it's helpful to have a very short memory.

  • mashed potatoes||

    I'm actually encouraged, maybe falsely, about Kerry's announcement with Russians. I've never understood the obsession with Assad. Hopefully with this transition for the state in place we can stop backing "moderate" rebels and focus with Russians on the Sunni head choppers. I hope we told the Saudis Fuck you.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Yeah, Assad is a scumbag, but how does that make him different from any of a hundred others across the globe?

    He's currently fighting ISIS, whom we also don't like. Hmmm. Maybe, just maybe, allow the two we don't like to fight each other and stay the hell out?

  • Not okay||

    Wasn't that the French plan?

  • Raven Nation||

    There were some English MPs in 1941 who were shocked when Churchill declared support for Stalin.

  • ||

    "He's currently fighting ISIS, whom we also don't like. Hmmm. Maybe, just maybe, allow the two we don't like to fight each other and stay the hell out?"

    ^ This. Or, if anything, go ahead and eat crow and say "now that we see the real-world alternatives with which we are presented, we have tentatively concluded that Assad is the least bad for now."

  • mashed potatoes||

    Yeah, and the agreement with Russians would remove Assad with 18 month transition. So he won't be a factor.

  • Res ipsa loquitur||

    Red Line something, something....

  • ant1sthenes||

    Yep, some petty local dictator wants to fight Nazis, let that fucker fight Nazis.

  • TheJohnnyAppleseedOfCrack||

    American military boots, 50 of them

    Correction, 100 boots.

  • ||

    How do you know they didn't get one each?

    /Bugs Bunny raised eyebrow.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Obama may not have a plan, but he does have good intentions and a warm heart--and he is the President, so we should respect his authori-tay.

  • MWG||

    Slightly OT: Greg Gutfeld and Dana Perino really blame the attacks in Paris on Snowden and Cryptography? Yes, yes they did:

    http://www.dailydot.com/politi.....n-snowden/

  • DK||

    Dana Perino ✔ @DanaPerino
    Also, F Snowden. F him to you know where and back.
    7:29 PM - 13 Nov 2015

    Hey, Dana, may I suggest some wood for you in the form of a woodchipper.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Wife and I have been watching Blindspot. They have an interesing plotline going on around the NSA spying and disclosure. Last episode worked in an interesting story with police shootings and body cameras.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    The "jump to conclusions mat" landed on Snowden!

    Next: Rand Paul

  • d3x / dt3||

    Yeah, if only we could all wet our pants and have the government spy on us all the time, we'd be safe forever!

  • Homple||

    "American military boots, 50 of them, will soon be officially "on the the ground" in Syria to fight ISIS, something President Obama promised was not something he would consider. "

    First, there are supposed to be fifty special operations troops there so, unless they are perpetually hopping on one foot, there are really one hundred boots involved.

    Second, quit using the stupid cliche "boots on the ground" and replace it with something less brainless like "troops deployed".

  • Jerryskids||

    Boots on the ground, boots on the ground, lookin' like a fool with yer boots on the ground.
    That is pretty ear-wormy.

    Let's hear the "troops deployed", let's give the boy a hand, let's hear Obama, baby, say he really understa-a-a-and.
    Nope, not a damn bit better.

  • ||

    Aw. Little precious Amherst Uprising...

    https://twitter.com/amherstuprising

  • Sevo||

    I doubt they'll get a lot of coverage today beyond selfies. Which are quite appropriate...

  • lap83||

    "Making way to stadium. White allies if you could get betwn police & marginalized ppl that wld help"

    Help us, white liberals, you're our only hope!

  • Mrs. Lemuel Struthers||

    Damn that is a target rich environment:

    At half time we will turn our back to the field and chant "RACIST COLONIALISTIC MASCOT ARE NOT FOR ME. RESPECT IS THE KEY!" #AmherstUprising

    Don't you people SEE?1 RACIST MASCOTS ARE RACIST!!!!!!!!

    When I was little and having a temper tantrum, my gran would say, "keep crying and I'll give you something to cry about." These students need something real to cry about.

  • Mrs. Lemuel Struthers||

    Ring fence the whole middle east, from Pakistan to Syria, from Turkey to North Africa. Contain their special version of mental illness to their region and stop exporting it to continents that have no immunity.

    That's it. That's all I've got other than never again. Never again should American soldier die attempting to export democracy and civil society to people not capable or developing it themselves.

  • wareagle||

    it's a point that bears repeating - why is the Western world expected to be the landing spot for these people? There is an entire Muslim world out there where, if nothing else, any culture shock from moving would be far less severe.

  • MSimon||

    Of course there is a plan. The Kurds fight ISIS well. Obama is strengthening the Kurds. That is a blow to Syria and Iran. God you Reason guys are not very good when int comes to military stuff. The Kurds also have a tolerably tolerant culture and they like Israel.

    And yes sometimes the things the military does are stupid. But sometimes they are not.

  • d3x / dt3||

    Not sure if serious.

  • IceTrey||

    With Americas command of the air in the ME the only reason ISIS still exists is because we want them to exist.

  • MSimon||

    Command of the air enables boots on the ground. It does not replace them.

  • d3x / dt3||

    I know right? Maybe we could get tens of thousands of American servicemen killed. That would be awesome!

  • IceTrey||

    That's the Kurds, Iraqi's, etc. Why am I seeing videos of ISIS convoys in broad daylight? Why do they have any equipment, fuel dump or vehicles left?

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