Back in 2006 my husband and I took a cross-country trip to New Mexico. We were going to visit our son at an Air Force base there, where he was assigned, before he deployed to Iraq. As evening approached we entered the state of Arkansas and decided to stop at a motel for the night. We ended up at an exit, where the tourist gimmick appeared to be a bird, which was believed to have been extinct for 60 years, but allegedly was sighted on February 27, 2004.
I always like to ask the locals where the best places to eat are, rather than trust online searches or road signs. So, after we got settled in our room, I went and chatted up the receptionist at the front desk and off we went in search of a local BBQ joint. As we ate, I kept looking at the pictures of the ivory-billed woodpecker on the walls and I asked my husband if he knew what the big deal was about this woodpecker, which I had never heard of. He didn’t know either. Near the cash register were shelves filled with the usual tourist junk, much of it plastered with images of the “ivory-billed woodpecker”.
Yesterday, I commented several times on Senator Marco Rubio’s foreign policy piece, “Obama’s Pathetic Cave-in to Putin’s Power Play in Syria”. Rubio offers a lot of Cold War sounding rhetoric and insists he will arm the Syrian moderate rebels. I believe this “Syrian moderate” strategy was foolish from the very beginning and a recipe to inadvertently place heavy weapons into the hands of ISIS, jihadists or Assad’s forces, because really do “moderates” win wars against committed, hardened fighters? I doubt it and much to our embarrassment, we have armed “moderates” numerous times in Syria, only to have them walk away with our training and weapons and join ISIS. Here’s part of one of the exchanges with an ardent supporter of arming “Syrian moderates”:
The image above is from a post card I bought at that BBQ joint in 2006. Our waitress, a very young woman, who looked to be still in her teens, cautiously answered my questions about this elusive “ivory-billed woodpecker”. I asked her if she thinks the sightings of this woodpecker, long believed to be extinct, are true or a hoax. She shrugged her shoulders and smiled. She said she didn’t know for sure, but a lot of “experts” from back East believe it and came to search for that bird.
As I read Patrick Poole’s report at PJ Media today of another Syrian moderate we trained who took our weapons and joined ISIS, I thought our search for “Syrian moderates”, which began based largely on neoconservative think-tank “experts and a young Syria “expert” at the Institute for the Study of War/political director for the Syrian Emergency Task Force, Elizabeth O’Bagy seems much like the search for the ivory-billed woodpecker.
Today, GEN Petraeus testified before Congress, I am presuming at the request of the likes of Senator John McCain, the neoconservative “Arm Syrian Moderates”, and to offer his insights into the fight against ISIS. He thinks the US should establish safe zones in Syria, that will ostensibly encourage moderate Sunnis to fight against ISIS. He stated:
“The central problem in Syria is that Sunni Arabs will not be willing partners against the Islamic State unless we commit to protect them and the broader Syrian population against all enemies, not just ISIS,” Petraeus said using an acronym for the militant group. “That means protecting them from the unrestricted warfare being waged against them by Bashar Assad, especially by his air force and its use of barrel bombs.”
He suggested that the U.S. tell Assad that if he continues to use barrel bombs, the U.S. will stop the Syrian air force from flying.
“We have that capability,” he said. “It would demonstrate that the United States is willing to stand against Assad and it would show the Syrian people that we can do what the Islamic State cannot — provide them with a measure of protection.”
At the same time, Petraeus warned against rushing to oust Assad without knowing who would fill the resulting political vacuum in the country.
Putin has moved Russian military personnel, equipment and fighters into Syria to bolster Assad. Putin has had meetings with the regional leaders and even with Israel and ironed out an understanding about Russia’s aims to help the Syrian state, to avoid any misunderstanding about how the IDF forces will respond to Assad transferring arms to Hezbollah. Yet. GEN Petraeus talks about creating some safe zone for imaginary Sunni moderates and he believes they will want to fight ISIS for us, when in truth, those Sunnis’ mortal enemy is really Assad, not ISIS (radical Salafists, who are Sunnis). Nowhere in Petraeus’ statement is a recognition of Russia’s diplomatic effort and coordination with regional leaders and even Israel or an insistence that we must talk to Putin to avoid escalating this into a US vs. Russian conflict very quickly, if US and Russian planes are operating in tight air space over Syria. Nope, it’s more magical-thinking that we’re going to create some viable proxy forces to fight ISIS for us. He argued that the US should not allow Putin to push us into an alliance with Assad. Instead he’s fine with the US supporting the Baghdad government, which relies heavily on Iranian backed militias to fight the Islamic State. And we’re going to chug along rebuilding the Iraqi Army – again. He did deliver the requisite catchphrase to be thrown around – this time, the clever, Russian-themed one for the pundits to saber-rattle and fear-monger to sway public opinion for another regime change in the Mid-East. He said:
“He called Syria a “geopolitical Chernobyl — spewing instability and extremism over the region and the rest of the world.””
The experts in search of the ivory-billed woodpecker began their search for the elusive bird in the eastern woods of Arkansas, then spread out to search in 8 different states. They did not find any. Last night I believed that poster’s plan, which I facetiously referred to as “The Polish Plan”, was laughable, but today with the “geopolitical Chernobyl” hyperbole, it sounds like it just might be an expansion of the neoconservative experts’ new “Syrian moderate” plan – the search for “Syrian refugee moderates”. One place they likely won’t find any is Poland, because the Poles were smart enough to say they are not Western Europe and they don’t want any terrorists….