Apparently if you chose to intervene in a chess game by knocking black players off the board, the white side will gain. This is coming as a great shock to D.C. Nobody loses in the political elite. Oh sure, you lose an election, but this just allows you to pluck a desireable job in lobbying or wall street and buy a bigger house. It is a world of up and up!Meanwhile, the US effort is premised on the idea that when a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, it didn't fall. So, we watched 3000 to 10000 ISIL "terrorists" decisively defeat an Iraqi army of 500000 armed with 30 billion dollars of US military equipment and benefiting from five years of training. What does this mean? Why it means we put our fingers in our ears and go nah nah we can't hear you. Then we pump some stateless "freedom fighter" group up with 10 million dollars and weapons captured in Libya and they will just blow a hole in IS and we are done. And of course said group will then easily defeat Assad.
Back in the benighted days of George Bush, one of the tells that the Iraq war was going to go wrong was the inability of the US to credibly mount a force that could both defeat Saddam H. and occupy the country. The US didn't have the soldiers and refused to institute a draft. After all, patriotic Americans wanting to taste Saddam's blood might not be so thirsty for it if their sons and daughters were out there in the desert being blown up. So the US waged a war on the cheap, which both blossomed to a trillion dollar war and was decisively lost by the US side.
ISIL shows what you can do if you have dedicated troops and enough money to take advantage of shock troop tactics, but they still don't have the kind of troops to occupy their territory. Eventually I expect they will dissolve in some civil broil. At the moment, though, they represent the Sunni part of the breakup of Iraq. Pretending this isn't so because where's the happy ending, Uncle Sam? And don't we have to do Something? doesn't change the facts that are kicking us in the face.
I sorta blame Oprah. At one point in her show, she publicized a woman who wrote a book called The Secret. The secret consists of cutting out pictures of things you want, pasting them to a piece of paper, and wishing very hard to have them - and presto, you'll get them! Obviously, the Secret became the playbook for the State Department and the D.C. press corps and establishment.
There ain't no Secret.