By 2006, Time was reporting that the Bush administration had “been quietly nurturing individuals and parties opposed to the Syrian government in an effort to undermine the regime of President Bashar Assad.” Part of the effort was being run through the National Salvation Front. The Front included “the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization that for decades supported the violent overthrow of the Syrian government.” Front representatives “were accorded at least two meetings” at the White House in 2006. Hence, the US government, at its highest level, was colluding with Islamists to bring down the Syrian government at least five years before the eruption of protests in 2011. This is a development that seems to have escaped the notice of some who believe that violent Islamist organizations emerged only after March 2011. In point of fact, the major internal opposition to secular Syrian governments, both before and after March 2011, were and are militant Sunni Islamists.What Mr. Gowans has to say further on about Obama's "tepid approach" to fighting ISIS is right on the money. It explains Obama's pretend campaign against ISIS and, by way of contrast, Russia's effortless destruction of the ISIS oil tankers traveling to Turkey and back. The U.S. just couldn't seem to find those trucks making thousands of runs to Turkey but the Russians had no difficulty in finding them. It destroyed ISIS's oil tankers at a rate 800 times that of the U.S. "effort."
* * * *
Today, Islamic State operates as one of the largest, if not the largest, rebel groups in Syria. A 2015 Congressional Research Service report cited an “unnamed senior State Department official” who observed:[W]e’ve never seen something like this. We’ve never seen a terrorist organization with 22,000 foreign fighters from a hundred countries all around the world. To put it in context—again, the numbers are fuzzy—but it’s about double of what went into Afghanistan over 10 years in the war against the Soviet Union. Those Jihadi fighters were from a handful of countries.” * * * *
The US government has publicly drawn a distinction between Islamic State and the confined-to-Syria-therefore-acceptable rebels, seeking to portray the former as terrorists and the latter as moderates, regardless of the methods they use and their views on Islam and democracy. The deception is echoed by the US mass media, which often complain that when Russian warplanes target non-Islamic State rebels that they’re striking “moderates,” as if all rebels apart from Islamic State are moderates, by definition. US Director of Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged that “moderate” means little more than “not Islamic State.”
As Gowans says on the issue of enabling ISIS:
If he truly believed Islamic State was a scourge that needed to be destroyed, the US president would work with the Syrian government to expunge it. Instead, he has chosen to wield Islamic State as a weapon to expunge the Syrian government, in the service of building up Israel and fostering free market and free enterprise economies in the Middle East to accommodate US foreign investment and exports on behalf of his Wall Street sponsors. Is there anything on the face of the planet more reckless, misguided, or vicious than what passes for U.S. foreign policy in this world?
Obama made it a cornerstone of his approach to abase himself (and the United States) before the nearest head of state at whatever cocktail party he happened to attend, but did nothing to alter the course of his predecessor, the hated George W. Bush.
Tens of thousands of Syrians have died as a direct result of the Bush-Obama policy there, which policy is firmly grounded in the lunatic idea that "regime change" can be effected with all costs necessarily gratefully absorbed by the locals. It will then be followed by the coronation of a new leader -- graciously chosen by the United States -- who will inaugurate an era of enlightened government free of sectarian strife and factional struggle.
This is right out of Disneyland but it was official U.S. policy in Syria until Mr. Putin arrived there to suggest helpful alternatives.
 "What US Congress Researchers Reveal About Washington’s Designs on Syria." By Stephen Gowans, what's left, 2/6/16 (emphasis added).
 Id. Emphasis added.