October 13, 2019
MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey
President Trump Is Right On Syria!
The unified foreign policy establishment in Washington, the Deep State politicos—from Lindsey Graham and Lynne Cheney in Congress, to the frenzied Never Trumpers like Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal, [“he’s (Trump) all impulse, blithely operating out of his depth”], to the near totality of the progressivist Left (e.g. Chuck Schumer, Diane Feinstein, and others), have come together (as they always will) to protect their sacred commitment to globalism and, this time, in fanatical opposition to President Trump’s decision to finally withdraw American support troops from northeastern Syria.
If it is one thing that brings the “Swamp” together in solidarity it is a serious threat to their hegemony in administering America’s foreign policy. From the pseudo-conservative “right” to the loony Left, the one issue that unites these minions and agents of the Managerial Administrative State is the absolute imperative for the United States “to be involved” practically everywhere in the world, the zealous pursuit of “democratization,” and the imposition of “egalitarian” values—most significantly in our export of “educational” programs and the various strings attached to our voluminous aid packages. Such programs always follow in the wake of any boots on the ground. They are part and parcel of the Deep State’s attempt to re-fashion the world along the lines and with globalist postulates which are, in fact, inimical to the traditions and heritage of the American founding.
Such initiatives mirror in numerous ways the goals of international financiers and subversive globalist instigators such as George Soros, whose multiple “Europe without Borders” (“Europe sans frontiers”) initiatives involve the virtual destruction of that historic continent by dissolving national borders and via an open door policy towards immigration, most especially from “Third World” countries. Soros and his apparatchiks have run into fierce opposition from Hungary and its valiant Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and, to some degree, from Poland and now Italy, under its more rightist populist government. Yet, for him, such opposition is a mere hindrance. He and those internationalists like him continue feverishly their scheming towards a global “nation” founded on ruins of an older, Christian civilization.
Just as a massive “re-education” of Europe followed German defeat in 1945, the results are not always what we are informed they will be. In the case of post-war Germany, it was not only the tearing out, root-and-branch, of any supposed trace of Naziism and antisemitism, but the real and practical disauthorization of ANY actual, traditional conservative presence (including traditional, non-Nazi conservatives), to the point that German history was so completely re-written and sanitized as to make any defense of even pre-1918 Germany—of Prussian history—any defense of a “national German spirit,” the equivalent of “the recrudescence of antisemitism and Hitlerism.” Germans were taught and continue to be taught to despise and reject their past, not just the twelve year interregnum under Adolf Hitler, but in fact its near entirety. The German nation has become, in a real sense, one immense bog of continuous apologies and imposed, never ending penance.
The ignominious demise of Soviet Communism, certainly a universal threat to us and our existence prior to 1991, in no way lessened the beating war drums and the dreams of international “democratization” or the desire for imposing “egalitarian values” emitted from the American foreign policy establishment. Nor its implicit, if not always seamless, tacit collaboration with the aims of uber-globalists like Soros. The specter of the George W. Bush years, of a John McCain and Lindsey Graham, or Neocon “thought leaders” like Bill Kristol and James Kirchick demanding that the full panoply of “gay and lesbian rights” be implemented in Russia, the imposition of “full democratic values” in Iraq, and the American intervention in Syria, are stark reminders that those policies continue full blast in the Swamp.
And thus when Donald Trump uttered the unutterable, he enraged not just the fanatics over on the progressivist Left, but the unelected managerial bureaucrats and Republican and “conservative” denizens of that same Swamp (who hold themselves condescendingly above all the rubes and deplorables out in the American hinterland). How dare the Trumpster question the “national consensus”! How dare he challenge the irrepressible advance towards world democracy and equality for everyone, everywhere! How dare he want to be so petty and insular as to reject “progress”!
Thus the howls of disapproval and anger directed at the president for his announcement last week that he will do exactly what he declared he would do, both during his presidential campaign and back in December: withdraw American “advisers” from the Turkish border in extreme northeastern Syria.
Unlike the jeremiads one hears from nearly all the media, including Fox News, this decision was not unexpected, but had been in the planning stage and in the offing since this past December (when General Mattis resigned because he disagreed). The president just finally decided to follow through on his promise.
Perhaps the most pointed—and poignant—argument used by those who oppose the president is that we are leaving “our Kurdish allies in the lurch, we are deserting them,” placing them at the mercy of the Turks just across the border who have already begun to attack them. Those who make this argument appear to forget that the Marxist Kurdish resistance in that region has been and continues to be, in many respects, an anti-Turkish terror group, engaging over the years in various barbaric acts of terrorism against Turkish civilians. Our alliance with them, such as it was, was one of convenience: that we would offer them some temporary aerial cover, a kind of shield against their hereditary enemies, and in return they would assist us in that small area of northeastern Syria that continued to be subject of ISIS attacks.
This they did; but too often we Americans suffer from both strategic and historical myopia. We did not win the war against ISIS, and neither did the Kurds. The vast majority of the fighting was done by the Syrian Army of Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia—and with the near unanimous support of Syria’s beleaguered Christian population. Some 80% of the country was liberated by the Syrians themselves.
Certainly, there are some outstanding issues that need resolution: no one wishes to see additional civilians—Kurdish women and children—caught up in more cross fire. And there are approximately 10,000 ISIS prisoners being held in the area (which European countries don’t wish to take, and who we don’t want either). Hopefully, the ongoing discussions between Donald Trump and the president of Turkey will result in some kind of solution for these questions.
Yet, over it all there is the overarching and searing reminder that for thousands of years the Middle East has presented an almost unsolvable conundrum, a morass where armies perish in the sands, where whole nations seem to disappear into the recesses of history. Just reflect, if you will, on efforts over the past fifty years to engineer (that is the correct word) peace between the Israelis and their Arab neighbors…of the immense hostility existing between the Sunni and Shi’a and Wahabi Muslims…of the enmity between the Saudis and Gulf States, and Syria and Iran. These conflicts are not isolated, nor new: they reflect millennia of violence, carnage, and hate. And there are few signs that that will change, with or without Americans in the region.
And, given our very dubious record (at best) in the Middle East, our efforts at “democratization” and “peace-keeping” should have taught us a lesson or two. Unfortunately, the foreign policy Swamp and the globalists continue to believe that they can reconstruct human nature, with enough American advisers, enough American aid, enough secularized education and population re-programing and re-educating…and maybe a few body bags thrown in for good measure.
In so doing, they actually propel the eventual demise of the American Empire.
I pass on two short essays, both on this topic, both on what is occurring in Syria and President Trump’s correct decision, one by military and strategic specialist, Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, and a second by Pat Buchanan. I urge you to read them:
Withdrawal of all US troops from Syria — not a partial repositioning — should be American policy
BY RETIRED LT. COL. DANIEL L. DAVIS, OPINON CONTRIBUTOR — 10/08/19 07:00 PM EDT
Setting off a diplomatic, military, and last Sunday night, Trump initially green-lighted a long-sought Turkish military operation to sweep Kurds of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) out of northern Syria. After from many of his most stalwart Republican defenders, Trump seemed to walk back that permission. This entire episode, however, graphically highlights why the United States should have long ago withdrawn all troops from Syria — and why Trump should do so now.
At the heart of the bipartisan criticism being leveled against the president is an appalling lack of understanding about America’s interests in Syria. The Washington Post that all American troops could be “forced” to, “withdraw entirely, which would be a major victory for Russia and open the way for Iran to entrench its forces along Israel’s northern border.”
The newspaper might do well to recognize that Russia has been an ally of Syria for decades, so there is nothing for them to "win." It will take years for Syria and Russia to even get back to the status quo antebellum, much less pose an increased risk to Israel (and Israel is the most powerful military power in the region and can defend itself from any threats).
Aside from missing this obvious reality, however, entirely absent from the torrent of criticism is any analysis of what is presently at stake for the United States, and whether the military’s operation there ever made sense. Spoiler alert: it didn’t.
Conventional wisdom says that our Kurdish partners in Syria did America a huge favor in routing ISIS from their so-called capital of Raqqa, and without their help, we would still be at risk from ISIS. Therefore, the thought goes, the Kurds deserve — and we owe them — our continued support. The premise, however, is flawed from the start, and thus the conclusion that we “owe them” is also wrong.
Then-President Obama in September 2014 to engage in combat operations in Syria — without bothering to seek, much less obtain, required Congressional approval — to, “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State. ISIS, he believed, was a major threat to the United States and unless we took action, we would be at risk of a new spate of terror attacks. But his fear was unfounded and his chosen means to solve the problem unnecessary, adding unnecessary risk to America.
As I first wrote , ISIS was always a dead man walking. They never had the capacity to retain the Syrian and Iraqi territory they seized, and owing to the threat to Baghdad and Damascus ISIS legitimately represented — not to mention the indirect threat posed to multiple other secular regimes in the Middle East — ISIS was never going to be allowed to survive, with or without American assistance.
While these radical Islamic terrorists did represent a threat to Middle Eastern regimes, they did not, however, pose a risk to American security. The safety of our homeland has been ensured, for the better part of two decades, by a robust global intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance strike capability (ISR-Strike), coupled with an increasingly effective cooperation between federal, state, and local law enforcement.
ISIS was entirely consumed with its daily survival and overwhelmed with the Herculean task of trying to administer the territories they seized; they never had the capacity to attack America from their bunkers in Syria and Iraq. Obama, then, should have continued to focus our ISR-Strike capabilities on the region to safeguard against threats emanating from any actors or groups, and preserved American military power by refusing to entrench us in a conflict from which we gained nothing.
Instead, Obama progressively deepened and expanded U.S. military engagement in Syria. Partnering with the SDF was never necessary for American security. Many accuse Washington of using the Kurds for our own benefit and then abandoning them. To the contrary, the Syrian Kurds were the greatest benefactors of our military excursion into Syria (along with, perversely, the Assad regime and the Iraqi government in Baghdad), as we effectively loaned the U.S. Air Force to the Kurds to level Raqqa and drive ISIS out of their cities and villages.
ISIS represented a direct and lethal threat to the Kurds but none to America. We therefore do not “owe” the SDF permanent use of the American Armed Forces to defend them against the Syrian government.
As has been the case since 2014, ISIS in Syria and Iraq — indeed, anywhere they exist abroad — does not represent a threat to us that our powerful ISR-Strike and law enforcement agencies can’t handle. There is nothing to win in Syria yet much to lose.
The most rational and realistic course of action can take now is to order the complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq and Syria, conducted as sensibly and quickly as possible.
Daniel L. Davis is a senior fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army who retired in 2015 after 21 years, including four combat deployments. Follow him @DanielLDavis1.
Is Trump At Last Ending Our 'Endless Wars'?
By Patrick J. Buchanan Tuesday - October 8, 2019
The backstage struggle between the Bush interventionists and the America-firsters who first backed Donald Trump for president just exploded into open warfare, which could sunder the Republican Party.
At issue is Trump's decision to let the Turkish army enter Northern Syria, to create a corridor between Syrian Kurds and the Turkish Kurds of the PKK, which the U.S. and Turkey regard as a terrorist organization. "A disaster in the making," says Lindsey Graham. "To abandon the Kurds" would be a "stain on America's honor." "A catastrophic mistake," said Rep. Liz Cheney. "If reports about US retreat in Syria are accurate," tweeted Marco Rubio, Trump will have "made a grave mistake." "The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake," said ex-U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, "we must always have the backs of our allies. " But of our NATO ally of almost 70 years, Haley said, "Turkey is not our friend."
Sen. Mitt Romney called it a "betrayal": "The President's decision to abandon our Kurd allies in the face of an assault by Turkey is a betrayal. It says that America is an unreliable ally; it facilitates ISIS resurgence; and it presages another humanitarian disaster."
Trump tweeted this defense of his order to U.S. forces not to resist Turkish intervention and the creation of a Turkish corridor in Syria from the eastern bank of the Euphrates to Iraq: "The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so. They have been fighting Turkey for decades. ... I held off this fight for ... almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home."
When, in December, Trump considered ordering all U.S. troops home from Syria, Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned in protest.
Behind this decision is Trump's exasperation at our NATO allies' refusal to take back for trial their own citizens whom we and the Kurds captured fighting for ISIS. The U.S. has "pressed France, Germany, and other European nations, from which many captured ISIS fighters came, to take them back, but they ... refused," said a Sunday White House statement. "The United States will not hold them for what could be many years and great cost. ... Turkey will now be responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years."
What are the arguments interventionists are using to insist that U.S. forces remain in Syria indefinitely?
If we pull out, says Graham, the Kurds will be forced, for survival, to ally themselves with Bashar Assad. True, but the Kurds now occupy a fifth of Syria, and this is not sustainable. We have to consider reality. Assad, the Russians, Iranians and Hezbollah have won the war against the Sunni rebels we and our Arab friends armed and equipped.
We are told that the Kurds will be massacred by Turkey's President Recep Erdogan, who sees them as terrorist allies of the PKK. But the Turks occupied the Syrian border west of the Euphrates and the Kurds withdrew without massacres. And how long must we stay in Syria to defend the Kurds against the Turks? Forever?
If we depart, ISIS will come back, says Cheney: "Terrorists thousands of miles away can and will use their safe-havens to launch attacks against America." But al-Qaida and ISIS are in many more places today than they were when we intervened in the Middle East. Must we fight forever over there — to be secure over here? Why cannot Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States deal with ISIS and al-Qaida in their own backyard?
Why are ISIS and al-Qaida over there our problem over here?
"This will throw the region into further chaos," says Graham. But if Trump's decision risks throwing the region into "further chaos," what, if not wholesale U.S. intervention, created the "present chaos"?
Consider. Today, the Taliban conduct more attacks and control much more territory than they did in all the years since we first intervened in 2001. Sixteen years after we marched to Baghdad, protests against the Iraqi regime took hundreds of lives last week, and a spreading revolt threatens the regime.
Saudi Arabia is tied down and arguably losing the war it launched against the Houthi rebels in 2015. Iran or its surrogates, with a handful of cruise missiles and drones, just shut down half of the Saudi oil production. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is awakening to his nation's vulnerability and may be looking to negotiate with Tehran.
Among those objecting most loudly to an American withdrawal from the forever wars of the Middle East are those who were the most enthusiastic about plunging us in.
And, yes, there is a price to be paid for letting go of an empire, but it is almost always less than the price of holding on.