"Alice, I don't think we are in Wonderland anymore."
(I intentionally confused my metaphors there, to demonstrate the level of confusion in this situation . . . did you get that? Just checking.)
So retired General David Petraeus, the guy who came closest of anyone in the last 15 years to actually doing something that worked in the Mid East, thinks the answer to ISIS is to peel off the moderates from Al Qaeda and use them as our proxy force. (Note - he is one of Obama's chief advisers on the current war.) Wow. Who said you can't change sides three times in the same war?
Perhaps before we go swapping jerseys again, it is worth considering how we reached the point that we are losing to several different enemies at the same place and the same time.
At the end of WW II in Europe (stay with me), we denazified all of Germany. That meant we removed anyone who had cooperated with the Nazi party from any position in government or business. Example: If you had been a member of the Nazi party in 1945, you could not be a mail man in 1946. As a German friend once explained, to hold any job of significance while the Nazis were in power, you had to join the party. That was even at the lowest level, like teacher, or railroad engineer. So because we threw the Nazis out, and with all the people with genuine moral convictions dead in the camps, the only people who could get jobs in government were the mediocre and what was left of the political opposition. Which meant the Communists. And thus (over General Patton's objections) official US government policy ensured the new Germany was penetrated from the beginning with far leftists, starting in elementary schools.
That was an interesting contrast to what we did in Japan, where we left the cult of the Emperor intact, and used Japanese troops as constabulary forces in Asia until we could get our own troops in place. The Japanese navy that fought us in 1945 ran the mine clearing operations for the Inchon Landing in 1950.
The difference, I think, was that the US elite did not feel the future was threatened by Japanese militarists and Emperor worship, while Fascism posed a real and continuing ideological threat. Just listen to the rhetoric of the political left on the campaign trail today. They are far more worried by the competition from the moderate Right than our sworn enemies in Iran or ISIS. So we starved the Germans, and gave the Japanese a pass. (If you don't understand the "starved the Germans" reference, look up the Morgenthau Plan.)
In light of that background, consider the de-Bathization program conceived by the Neocons in 2004 and implemented by US Ambassador Paul Bremer. It systematically drove out every person who understood how to make a secular government work, and replaced them by Shia Iranian sympathizers, bent on revenge against the previous ruling Sunni minority. This drove the Sunni into the arms of either:
a. radical Al Qaeda, trying to overthrow the American backed Shia government; or
b. radical ISIS trying to overthrow everyone, to include radical Al Qaeda.
President Obama and his ideologues then doubled down on this losing concept, by supporting radicals all over the Mid East during the Hindenberg-like crash of the Arab Spring. Result -- the creation of lots of radical sides, all of them opposing us.
The motive for the Morgenthau plan was clear: Revenge. Make every German feel the pain of losing, and make sure Germany never again had the wherewithal to threaten the global order. The joint Neocon / Progressive plan of the last decade has been more ideological: institute the mechanism of diversity, democracy, and capitalism which would then work its magic, making people understand that their best interests are served by building governments around secular, diverse, free markets. Except the people of the Mid East disagree, and use every opportunity to advance their more tribal/religion-centric view of the world.
And so here we are, through the looking glass, watching the Mad Hatter yell "Clean cup!! Clean cup!" while everyone changes chairs and sides. I guess General Petraeus at least gets credit for understanding what is NOT working, and proposing something different. But somehow, like Alice, the prospect of a new seating arrangement at a table full of madmen does not make me feel better.