The swift and dramatic rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the group's de facto transformation from a terrorist organization into a terrorist government with a potent army is daunting and scary. But it's not totally unexpected.
Last year's study produced by IHS Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre's Charles Lister, currently a fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, said that secular groups were no longer at the helm of Syria's rebel opposition forces. In September 2013, Senator John McCain had dismissed, fully and authoritatively, the very possibility that the rebellion in Syria was dominated by jihadist groups.
Having been to Syria and met with moderates in the opposition, Senator McCain called for "meaningful lethal assistance to moderate opposition forces" while raising concern over the exponential growth of extremists in Syria. Mr. Mcain has been calling for U.S. airstrikes against Bashar al-Assad's forces since September 2012.
Today, in a visit to the Arizona Republic's editorial board, John McCain advocated for swift measures against ISIL: not boots on the ground but an immediate bombing campaign in Syria and Iraq against the jihadists who, according to the senator, are "a virus" that cannot be simply "contained."
Thus, a year hasn't passed since Senator McCain's calls for arming Syria's "moderate" rebels and his calls for a bombing campaign of ISIL-controlled areas in Iraq and Syria. A lethal campaign against ISIL will no doubt bolster the government forces of Bashar al-Assad, "The Butcher" who is still less of a threat to the world than seemingly anyone he's up against.
With a fine mess like this, no wonder even the Washington Post is asking if Vladimir Putin was right about Syria.