So the top story today is that an ex-CIA operative is releasing a book that claims how Obama could have stopped ISIS in 2012 by allowing the CIA to train more rebels to oust Assad. I don’t know much about covert ops, covert coups, or the ancient landscape that is the Middle East. Nor will I claim that Obama has maintained a perfect foreign policy. But in terms of this book, I will say that hindsight and discontent are old partners. And I will also say that back when this chance arose, ISIS hadn’t even emerged from a-Quaeda. And I’ll say furthermore that if you want to play the game of who started what, we should talk about how al-Quaeda itself came about from our supporting the rebels in the Afghan war against the Soviets. And speaking of removal of dictators, let’s not forget how well things turned out after we toppled Hussein. 

I just heard that the Silver Age Superman arose in the fifties as a champion of Truth, Justice, and the American Way. He’s become edgier since. He’s given Batman some kryptonite so Batman can stop Superman if Superman ever loses his way. Since WWII, we’ve been a superpower, but we’ve never been a superhero. We don’t have that wisdom. We don’t have it about the future or the present, or even the past. It borders on imperialism to say that the American way is best for anyone else. And it borders on hubris, of the old Greek blend, to think we can look at a mire of ancient enmity and know which spots to drain. Did Obama do the right thing about ISIS? I don’t know. Do we ever do the right thing about the Middle East? Our record is poor. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that caution frequently saves the day–even if it doesn’t always win it.

(Posted on April 2, 2016)

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