There are many worthy contenders, but Syria may be the US government’s biggest Middle Eastern screw up so far. Even John McCain, who never met a war he didn’t like, doesn’t like this one. However, because in government nothing succeeds like failure, it is a sure bet that this effort will escalate. From Philip Ewing and Austin Wright at politico.com:
Top brass debate how to rescue costly effort to raise rebel army to fight Islamic State.
With all the U.S.-trained fighters dead, captured or missing and their leader in the hands of Al Qaeda, top U.S. commanders are scrambling this week to determine how to revive the half-billion dollar program to create a moderate Syrian army to fight the Islamic State.
The outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, who viewed the force as a critical element of the military strategy in both Syria and Iraq, is conferring with top Pentagon officials behind closed doors to figure out what options are left for what is widely considered a policy and military failure, according to senior defense officials.
“We are trying to learn from experience,” Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said Wednesday, while acknowledging raising a rebel army is “hard to implement, particularly in a place like Syria, and so we’re going to learn and get better at it as time goes on.”
But a year after Congress authorized the Syrian train and equip program, to the tune of $500 million, even Republican hawks are no longer willing to throw their support behind it — including some who think it should be scrapped altogether.
“It’s a bad, bad sick joke,” Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told reporters, calling the decision to authorize the program in the first place a mistake.
Sen. Chris Murphy, the Connecticut Democrat who sits on the Appropriations Committee, returned from a trip to the region last week where he was briefed on the effort. His assessment of the program: “a bigger disaster than I could have ever imagined.”
After nearly 12 months of extensive international outreach, the program has so far yielded only 54 fighters — all of whom were killed, captured by terrorists in Syria or scattered when they came under attack this summer.
To continue reading: The Pentagon’s Syria debacle