Committing to the “moderate” Free Syrian Army exclusively would have meant creating a civil war within a civil war, getting into a proxy war with Saudi Arabia, and risking humiliation — all while getting a lot of innocents killed. If the stated objective was that once the U.S. went in big with anti-Assad forces, then Assad’s fall had to be assured, the result would have been similar to Egypt, where once the U.S. let Mubarak’s regime fall, the Muslim Brotherhood was the only organized option on the ground.
Like other hawks, Clinton has faith that beggaring rebel groups are composed mainly of tolerant liberal democrats — or at least enough of them to be worth some material support. Taken at face value, it’s a conviction so imbecilic it should all but disqualify her from the presidency. Though of course, Clinton’s response to Goldberg on ISIS and Syria is all about empty opportunistic signaling.
What would have happened if America had gone all in with the Syrian rebels? The black-flag flying beheaders would have shot any of Syria’s tolerant liberal democrats in the neck, taken their U.S. weapons, and made off at double-speed into western Iraq, where they have been capturing more U.S. materiel (that which was supplied to Iraq) to fire at the soon-to-be-coming U.S. fighter jets. The turnaround time on American-supplied arms being turned against U.S. interests used to be about a decade or two. Think early ’80s Iraq or Afghanistan’s mujahideen. Now it is more like 10 months. If Clinton had her way, we’d be closing in on 10 weeks from the time the CIA delivers weapons to the time they are pointed at U.S. clients and airplanes.