Via the Free Beacon, that’s not four or five battalions or four or five platoons. It’s four or five rebels. That’s all that’s left after Al Qaeda ran the other 55 or so off the field a few weeks ago. In other words, notes Gabe Malor, we’re averaging around $100 million per fighter right now. What I want to know is, why did Austin feel compelled to mention those four or five instead of saying that America effectively has no rebel presence inside Syria at the moment? It’s as if he wanted to make sure Congress understands that we’ve made some progress, “progress” meaning just enough guys to form a basketball team. Give Obama a few more months and who knows? We might have enough to field a football team. And to think, you right-wing nuts say America doesn’t win anymore.

What’s left for a superpower to do to influence the humongous proxy war in Syria, with Russia the latest to join the fray, now that its training program for local rebels is a dumpster fire? You know what. Just across from CNBC:

For now, I assume, they’re merely “advising.” How much longer will it be before combat troops are sent in, bearing in mind that not only do a majority of Americans support putting boots on the ground but increasingly Europeans do too? (One obvious consequence of the migrant crisis in the EU will be growing resolve there to make Syria safe for Syrians again.) In fact, here’s something else trickling across the wires this afternoon:

If the EU can’t keep Syrians from coming across the border, the next option is to join them in a fight to take their country back. The only question mark for America is whether we’ll have to wait for a new president to give the order to send in a small ground force or if O, having read the polls, will decide that it won’t hurt the Democratic nominee next year if he takes action. Maybe it’ll come down to his precious legacy. The guy who got elected promising to pull the troops out of Iraq and talk to Tehran isn’t going to have his final act on foreign policy be the deployment of U.S. troops to the biggest Islamist hellhole on Earth, is it?

Exit question: For all the angst over Russia entering Syria and what that means strategically, their interests and ours align in wanting to put a hurt on ISIS, right? They don’t align perfectly: Russia wants to protect Assad’s rule whereas the U.S. wants both Assad and the jihadis gone, and Russia would no doubt be happy to reach an accommodation with ISIS so long as their interests are protected in Syria and only America is targeted for attack. But in the short-term, the biggest risk of a U.S.-Russian “misunderstanding” in Syria is warplanes from both sides crossing each other’s routes to hit ISIS, no? They’re going to end up doing some of the heavy lifting our phantom rebel force would have done whether they intend to or not. Or am I missing something?