Wednesday, September 12, 2018


September 12, 2018



MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey



Before the Storm: A Few Thoughts on Syria and an Announcement



Friends,

First, let me once again offer my prayers and best wishes for those who may well be affected by Hurricane Florence. May we all remain safe and secure in the days ahead!

I had thought that the installment of MY CORNER for Monday, September 10, might be the last one published prior to the arrival of Hurricane Florence. But given some computer issues and the need to re-work my contact list, I thought I would go ahead and take advantage of this time to remit one more installment this morning.

First, I did want to offer some brief comments about the possibility that the United States might once again launch attacks in Syria. I have discussed this question before in MY CORNER. [See the five installments in this series, April 9-13, 2018, at: http://boydcatheyreviewofbooks.blogspot.com/2018/04/april-9-2018-my-corner-by-boyd-cathey.html ;





Doesn’t it seem odd that each time that the Syrian government is on the point of defeating a portion of the ISIS or Al-Qeida Islamists, that all of a sudden at  virtually the same time, emitted from those very same Islamists, come “reports” of gassing by the victorious government troops?  And these “reports,” just like the eventually proven false and bogus reports of chemical weapons that were supposedly in the possession of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, are snatched up with alacrity by those frenzied members of the globalist “war party” both in and outside of the administration.

“Cui bono?” is old Latin question that must be asked: for what good would it be for President Assad to even consider launching a gas attack? He is on the verge of winning his civil war. Why would he risk another and probably massive American attack and intervention when he is winning, when he is not at all in desperate straits?  The only potential winners due to a “gassing attack” would be…those beleaguered ISIS fighters on the ground. And, how ironic: it would be the US that snatched their “bacon from the fire”! 

The prospect of another American intervention against the Syrian government, which is now on the verge of wiping out the last stronghold of ISIS-connected Islamic rebels and terrorists in the northwestern Idlib province of that war-torn country, is indeed truly stupefying. The very idea that the United States could become more embroiled in a foreign civil war, that our country could launch military action to, in reality, protect ISIS militants, and that the president could permit certain of his zealously globalist Neoconservative advisors (e.g., John Bolton, Nikki Haley, etc.?) to plot the exact contrary of his stated campaign promises beggars belief, and, should it happen, would represent the real undermining of the Make America Great Again program. And it would be on a par with the recent “anonymous editorial” that showed up in The New York Times—evidence that some of the advisors and appointees that President Trump has surrounded himself with are most definitely not his real friends, but have their own globalist agenda which they will substitute for his, should the opportunity present itself.

Just last night [September 11] on the Tucker Carlson Tonight program on Fox News, host Carlson interviewed staunch proponent of intervention, Democrat Party zealot, David Tafuri…and what was fascinating is that Tafuri’s position was and is identical to that of the establishment “(Neo) conservatives” and many Republican elites who beat the war drums in Syria. It is what I and others have been saying and writing for several years: the long-range vision and the most profound ideas of the current establishment “conservative movement, inc.” which are globalist and stress the imposition of worldwide egalitarianism across the face of the globe, are very much like the objectives and most profound ideas of their supposed opponents on the Farther Left.

Thus, it is the furious and unhinged internationalist foreign policy of the globalist Neoconservatives who have wormed their way into the Trump administration, whose real enemy here is Iran (and potentially Russia). And they will do anything to get us mired in another war, with potentially thousands of American boys dead and possible conflict on a very broad scale in the most confused quagmire in the world.

As I wrote recently on September 8, 2018         [http://boydcatheyreviewofbooks.blogspot.com/2018/09/september-8-2018-my-corner-by.html], our hope must be that the president’s considered instincts and original propositions will dominate and prevail…in Syria and elsewhere.

Today I pass on (below) two very current columns by Pat Buchanan that address these questions.

*****

And, secondly, I wanted to let you know that, hopefully, this fall I will have a book coming out. The title tentatively is The Land We Love: The South and Its Heritage, and it will be an anthology of essays I have published over the years defending the South, its history, and its traditions. Those essays have been broad-ranging, as many of you know, and cover cultural, historical, and political aspects. The volume will be hardback and carry a Foreword by the distinguished historian of the South, Dr. Clyde Wilson, Professor Emeritus of History, the University of South Carolina. I will keep you posted as to the publication date (it will be available on Amazon and at other venues).



Is Trump Going Neocon in Syria?


By Patrick J. Buchanan   Tuesday - September 11, 2018

Is President Donald Trump about to intervene militarily in the Syrian civil war? For that is what he and his advisers seem to be signaling.

Last week, Trump said of Syrian President Bashar Assad's campaign to recapture the last stronghold of the rebellion, Idlib province: "If it's a slaughter, the world is going to get very, very angry. And the United States is going to get very angry, too." In a front-page story Monday, "Assad is Planning Chlorine Attack, U.S. Says," The Wall Street Journal reports that, during a recent meeting, "President Trump threatened to conduct a massive attack against Mr. Assad if he carries out a massacre in Idlib."

Idlib contains three million civilians and refugees and 70,000 rebels, 10,000 of whom are al-Qaida.

Friday, The Washington Post reported that Trump is changing U.S. policy. America will not be leaving Syria any time soon. The 2,200 U.S. troops in Syria will remain until we see "the exit of all Iranian military and proxy forces and the establishment of a stable, non-threatening government acceptable to all Syrians."

"We are not in a hurry to go," said James Jeffrey, the retired Foreign Service officer brought back to handle the Syria account. "The new policy is we're no longer pulling out by the end of the year."

President Obama had a red line against Syria's use of poison gas, which Trump enforced with bombing runs. Now we have a new red line. Said Jeffrey, the U.S. "will not tolerate an attack. Period."

In an editorial Friday, the Post goaded Trump, calling his response to Assad's ruthless recapture of his country "pathetically weak." To stand by and let the Syrian army annihilate the rebels in Idlib, said the Post, would be "another damaging abdication of U.S. leadership."  What Trump seems to be signaling, the Post demanding, and Jeffrey suggesting, is that, rather than allow a bloody battle for the recapture of Idlib province to play out, the United States should engage Russian and Syrian forces militarily and force them to back off.

On Friday, near the U.S. garrison at Tanf in southern Syria, close to Iraq, U.S. Marines conducted a live-fire exercise. Purpose: Warn Russian forces to stay away. The Americans have declared a 35-mile zone around Tanf off-limits. The Marine exercise followed a Russian notification, and U.S. rejection, of a plan to enter the zone in pursuit of "terrorists."  

Is Trump ready to order U.S. action against Russian and Syrian forces if Assad gives his army the green light to take Idlib? For the bombing of Idlib has already begun.

What makes this more than an academic exercise is that Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, at a meeting in Tehran last Friday, told President Erdogan of Turkey that the reconquest of Idlib is going forward.
Erdogan fears that the Syrian army's recapture of Idlib would send hundreds of thousands more refugees streaming to his border. Turkey already hosts millions of refugees from Syria's civil war.

Yet the massing of the Syrian army near Idlib and the Russian and Syrian bombing now begun suggest that the Assad-Putin-Rouhani coalition has decided to accept the risk of a clash with the Americans in order to bring an end to the rebellion. If so, this puts the ball in America's court.

Words and warnings aside, is Trump prepared to take us into the Syrian civil war against the forces who, absent our intervention, will have won the war? When did Congress authorize a new war? What vital U.S. interest is imperiled in Idlib, or in ensuring that all Iranian forces and Shiite allies are removed, or that a "non-threatening government acceptable to all Syrians and the international community" is established in Damascus?

With these conditions required before our departure, we could be there for eternity.

The Syrian civil war is arguably the worst humanitarian disaster of the decade. The sooner it is ended the better. But Assad, Russia and Iran did not start this war. Nor have Syria, Russia or Iran sought a clash with U.S. forces whose mission, we were repeatedly assured, was to crush ISIS and go home.

Trump has struck Syria twice for its use of poison gas, and U.S. officials told the Journal that Assad has now approved the use of chlorine on the rebels in Idlib. Moscow, however, is charging that a false-flag operation to unleash chlorine on civilians in Idlib is being prepared to trigger and justify U.S. intervention.

Many in this Russophobic city would welcome a confrontation with Putin's Russia, even more a U.S. war on Iran. But that is the opposite of what candidate Trump promised. It would represent a triumph of the Never-Trumpers and President Trump's relinquishing of his foreign policy to the globalist interventionists and neoconservatives.

========================

Balance Sheet of the Forever War



Friday - September 7, 2018 at 12:02 am

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“It is time for this war in Afghanistan to end,” said Gen. John Nicholson in Kabul on his retirement Sunday after a fourth tour of duty and 31 months as commander of U.S. and NATO forces.

Labor Day brought news that another U.S. serviceman had been killed in an insider attack by an Afghan soldier.

Why do we continue to fight in Afghanistan? “We continue to fight simply because we are there,” said retired Gen. Karl Eikenberry who preceded Gen. Nicholson. “Absent political guidance and a diplomatic strategy,” Eikenberry told The New York Times, “military commanders have filled the vacuum by waging a war all agree cannot be won militarily.”

This longest war in U.S. history has become another no-win war. Yet, if the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan were pulled out, the regime would fall, the Taliban would take over, and the massacres would begin. So America stays in and soldiers on. For how long?

The 17th anniversary of 9/11, now imminent, appears a proper time to take inventory of our successes and failures in the forever wars of the Middle East into which America was plunged in this new century.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban presence is more pervasive in more provinces than at any time since the regime was overthrown in 2001.

In the seven-year Syrian civil war we helped to ignite by arming rebels to overthrow President Assad, the conflict appears headed for its largest, bloodiest and most decisive battle. The Syrian army, backed by Russia and Iran, is preparing to attack Idlib province. Three million people live there and 70,000 rebels are encamped, including 10,000 al-Qaida fighters.

In a Monday tweet, President Donald Trump warned Syria against attacking Idlib, and warned Iran and Russia against joining any such attack: “The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed.” America and Russia both have warships in the Eastern Med.

National Security Adviser John Bolton has warned that Syria’s use of gas in Idlib would trigger a U.S. military response. This is an invitation for the rebels in Idlib to conduct a false-flag gas attack to lure U.S. air power to their side.

Monday in Damascus, the Iranian foreign minister said the time had come to eradicate the terrorist enclave in Idlib. If the Syrians, Russians and Iranians are not bluffing, and the U.S. warnings are serious, we may be headed for a U.S.-Russia clash inside Syria.

Yet, again, what vital interest of ours is imperiled in Idlib province?

On Monday, Saudi Arabia admitted to having made a mistake when, using a U.S.-made fighter-bomber, a school bus was attacked on Aug. 9, killing dozens of Yemeni children in that humanitarian horror of a war. The Saudi campaign to crush the Houthi rebels and return the previous regime to power in Sanaa could never succeed were it not for U.S.-provided planes, missiles, bombs and air-to-air refueling. Are we thus morally responsible for what is happening?

In Libya, where we overthrew Moammar Gadhafi, rival factions now control Benghazi in the east and Tripoli in the west. August saw fighting break out in the capital, threatening the U.N.-backed unity government there.

In Iraq, which we invaded in 2003 to strip of weapons of mass destruction it did not have, and to bring the blessings of democracy to Mesopotamia, rival factions are struggling for power after recent elections saw pro-Iranian and anti-American forces gain ground.

Meanwhile, the Iranian currency is sinking as a November deadline approaches for Europe to choose between cutting ties to Iran or losing U.S. markets. While the Tehran regime has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if its oil is denied access to world markets, it faces economic strangulation if it does not submit to U.S. demands.

When one adds up the U.S. dead and wounded from the wars we have launched since 2001 with the Arab and Muslim wounded, killed, orphaned, widowed, uprooted and turned into refugees, as well as the trillions of dollars lost, what benefits are there on the other side of the ledger?

Now we appear to be moving to confront Russia in Ukraine. In an interview with The Guardian last week, U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker said Washington is ready to build up Ukraine’s naval and air defense forces, given Russia’s continued support for separatists in the Donbass. The administration is “absolutely” prepared to supply new lethal weaponry, beyond the Javelin anti-tank missiles delivered in April.

But if a Ukrainian army moves against pro-Russian rebels in Luhansk and Donetsk, and Russia intervenes on the side of the rebels, are we really prepared to come to the aid of the Ukrainian army?

President Trump has yet to withdraw us from any of the wars he inherited, but he has kept us out of any new wars — a record worth preserving.

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