Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dempsey's Syria letter raises questions about entire Mideast policy

Dempsey's Syria letter raises questions about entire Mideast policy

 Dempsey’s assessment of intervention in Syria highlights lessons the U.S. should have learned by now.

First, the conflict is not between two sides, one pro-democracy and one dictatorial. It is a many-sided conflict, involving longstanding ethnic and tribal differences, according to Dempsey. No side is pro-U.S.

This is much like Afghanistan, where the U.S. attempted to combine military action with bribes, coalition building and humanitarian efforts to “win hearts and minds.”

In the end, the government it backed has waffled on supporting U.S. interests. The security forces U.S. military personnel are training have taken to killing their trainers from time to time, restrained only by Afghan officers who discourage the practice because of the weapons the U.S. is providing them.

Last month, the Taliban opened an office in Dohar, Qatar to begin negotiating with the U.S. and others to end the war. What that means for stability, democracy or U.S. interests in Afghanistan remains to be seen. The original reason for invading Afghanistan was to remove the Taliban.

This after the U.S. left Iraq a nation in chaos, its infrastructure razed, two million refugees displaced, an ancient Christian community destroyed, and a government with strong ties to Iran.