I'll start with a brief, naturally abbreviated and selective, narrative of some of America's late and ongoing misadventures in the Middle East since 9/11 and the GWOT:
♦ The GWOT
The US started the GWOT after 9/11 to go after Al Qaeda into Afghanistan, then took a detour to Iraq, witnessed, gleefully, how Saddam was executed, even though he was a mere bystansder to 9/11, but why bother. Victory! To make a long, sad story short, the US messed the place up for good, and then had to have Grand Captain David Petraeus 'do the surge' and preside over the US 'victory' over Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). In the meanwhile, Afghanistan drags on, and on May 2, 2011, Bin Laden is killed in Abottabad. Victory!
♦ The US trying to ride the Tiger Arab Spring
The idea must been to end up at the 'right side of history' and not wanting to be seen as propping up authoritarians in the Middle East. One could also say the US mistook mobs on the streets for protest, and elections for democracy. Make your pick.
In any event, during the Arab spring the US eventually intervened in Libya, with US allies UAE and Qatar providing Jihadi shock troops, and European allies sending special forces and providing close air support. In October 2011 Ghaddafi is lynched, leaving HC excited with glee. Victory! Well, not really, if a stable country was the goal.
♦ ... just one more dictator and surely Freedom™ will reign!
Not content with just that, the US took aim at Syria and the US and their allies then funneled arms and Jihadis from Libya to Syria to continue the fight. They seriously underestimated Assad's staying power. As a result the US, incapable of a to reset once 'regime change' has been uttered, habitually doubled down on support and diatribe as the civil war escalated under a continuous influx of foreign money, arms and fighters - courtesy of Turkey, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia and the US.
Because of serious rebel setbacks, and the disturbing emergence of ISIS, an offspring of that very same Al Qaeda in Iraq that was suppoosedly defeated by Petraeus in the 2007 surge, Petraeus in 2015, straight faced, suggested arming Al Qaeda to fight Assad ISIS, irrespective of the fact that many of these folks had sworn allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri (the butcher of New York and that other guy behind 9/11) and who would probably, if one dared to ask, say that Osama Bin Laden was a martyr and a hero.
♦ Strategic Incoherence
So, Al Qaeda, the killers of 9/11, made it from nemesis to ally in just a decade, with the general fighting their offspring in 2008 proposing to arm their successors in 2015.
How to better capture the utter strategic incoherence that afflicts US policy at the moment?