My main hope in the Paris crisis is that we do not wind up with Democrats supporting one group of Middle Eastern extremists, while the Republicans support a different group of Middle Eastern extremists.
In the wake of bombings in Paris, it is easy to jump to the conclusion that we must oppose ISIS. There is virtually 100% agreement on that point. No doubt the American Congress will be eager to send more weapons and possibly troops to the area.
But it's easy to oppose groups in the Middle East. A tougher question, is who will we support there? In order to effectively oppose ISIS, there must be some local Syria-based group that we will support. Who will get these weapons we will presumably continue to send?
In the Village Ellliot's opinion, much harm was done by the Chief Executive proclaiming "Assad must go!" I think it was an enormous miscalculation based on the Administration's misplaced desire to appear to be at the forefront of the Arab Spring movement (which totally fizzled once we attempted to insert ourselves in it, by the way). Moreover, by these three words Obama unequivocally threw his support behind the Regime Change doctrine, which basically says the US is entitled to overthrow foreign governments if we believe that they are bad.
There are two major Middle Eastern powers involved in Syria: the Assad government and ISIS. Russia has backed the Syrian government, which is the only sensible way to oppose ISIS. However, the US wants to posture itself as anti-Russia and anti-Assad and, more recently,anti-ISIS. We wish to pretend that there is this sensible pro-American progressively-minded third party in Syria, but it does not exist.
Recall Middle East Rule Number 1; all warring groups in the region hate the US and Israel. There are no US allies in the region.
Rule Number 2 is that a charismatic American leader can not overturn Rule Number 1.
In fact, it may not be too much of a stretch to say that the US probably saved Assad by demanding his ouster, because 100% of the peoples in the region hate the US more than they might have hated Assad.
This does not mean that we can not deal diplomatically with countries that hate us. "Speak softly and carry a big stick," was the way President Theodore Roosevelt explained it.
Anything we do in Syria is short term. If ISIS is the number one threat, we can weaken them by attacking their military presence and set them back. But the purpose of the US military is to destroy military threats. It does not create stable friendships, does not create progressive attitudes, does not overcome oppression, does not help suppressed minorities. Understand? It destroys the opponent's military, and it does that job very well. But that's all it does. Don't show me any pictures of GI's handing out candy to grateful foreign tots. That's simply public relations for the US.
It seems to me that if the US, Russia and France wanted to help Assad destroy ISIS we could certainly do so. The outcome is less certain if the US wishes to also oppose Assad at the same time, while hoping for a pro-American faction to emerge (it won't). Meanwhile we may wind up confronting Russia for supporting Assad. I'm not sure what France will want to do, but I would bet that they will not endorse the weird US non-plan of being anti-everyone.
My guess is that France may want to hit back at ISIS. I doubt whether they are going to care about the fizzled, dysfunctional dream of American leadership of Arab Spring. If the US had any sense, we would back off this insane concept and stop calling for the overthrow of the Assad government, especially while they are fighting ISIS.