Second, the groups we were actively funding in Syria were many times far from being “moderate.” Several U.S.-backed rebels have had ties to Jabhat-al Nusra, or the Nusra Front, an offshoot of al-Qaeda. Even a former U.S. official who supports the CIA’s program lamented in a 2015 interview with the BBC that the rebels were not “ideologically pure,” and noted that “in wars like [this], there is no black and white.” Worse, as part of the CIA’s program, the United States even kept groups that were affiliated with al-Qaeda—terrorist groups by any clear definition of the word—off the United Nations terrorist list, solely because these groups were receiving U.S. support.
Finally, U.S. weapons given to the bad guys have cost innocent human lives. One American-funded group, Ahrar al-Sham, directly collaborated with the Nusra Front in a raid on a village in 2016 that killed 19 civilians, including women and children. As you can imagine in a war such as this, this is only one of many atrocities committed by all sides.
While not-a-Republican Joe Scarborough rages about hundreds who have died in chemical attacks possibly not even perpetrated by the Syrian government in 2013, 2015, and 2017, our conventional weapons have helped prolong a war that has resulted in countless thousands of civilian deaths. And the weapons we have supplied will inevitably end up being turned on us, particularly on the men and women of our armed forces.