Maybe Bobby Jindal should stick to talking about something besides foreign policy. He said this in an interview with Martha Raddatz yesterday:
If they had aggressively trained those rebels in the beginning, if they had armed and trained the Kurds, we’d be in a different place. You wouldn’t have Putin and Assad working with Hezbollah and Iran [bold mine-DL].
Jindal’s statement is completely wrong and his campaign is irrelevant at this point, but he’s expressing a common view that needs to be refuted whenever possible. If the U.S. had been “aggressively” training Syrian rebels back in 2011 or 2012, it is entirely predictable that Russian, Iranian, and Hizbullah intervention in the civil war would have been greater at an earlier stage and the civil war would be worse than it is. Recent reports tell us that the Saudis and the Gulf states are increasing their weapons supplies to Syrian rebel groups in the wake of Russian intervention, which is exactly what one would expect and it is just how Assad’s patrons and allies would have responded to a more aggressive effort to arm Assad’s enemies earlier on. That is how proxy wars work. If the proxies on one side gain additional support, the other side’s patrons will compensate to match it. The end result of this is not to reduce outside interference by other states, but to encourage more of it by all interested parties to the detriment of the people forced to live through the grinding conflict. It would be accurate to say that more aggressively arming Assad’s enemies from the start would have guaranteed earlier, more substantial Russian and Iranian aid to Assad. It also follows that the surest way to ensure that Russia further increases its commitment to the Syrian government is to increase our own support for the government’s foes.
Jindal is reportedly very intelligent, so why would he say something so ridiculous? For one thing, he is wedded to a partisan critique of administration policy that insists that Obama has erred in Syria by being insufficiently meddlesome, and therefore he must say that Obama should have been more meddlesome. He also professes to believe hawkish assumptions about the efficacy and desirability of U.S. “leadership” in the world, and so he feels obliged to claim that the U.S. needs to “do more” in Syria on general principle. But ultimately Jindal’s statement is the result of having someone seeking the presidency without having the slightest understanding of international affairs or how to conduct foreign policy responsibly. He endorses a superficial and completely wrong analysis of the conflict because he doesn’t know any better and because his party doesn’t care that he doesn’t. Like almost the entire field of candidates, he is woefully unprepared to be president, and this is most obvious whenever he says anything about contemporary foreign policy issues.