When it comes to American national security strategy, it’s important to weigh strategic decisions through a “big picture/little picture” lens. Even if pulling out of these long, seemingly unwinnable conflicts in the Muslim world makes sense, how we pull out matters even more to America’s larger strategic interests in the rest of the world.
Part of being a leader of large alliances, that America spent a century of blood and treasure building, entails bolstering the TRUST needed to sustain these alliances that have helped keep America and much of the world safe, free and prosperous. President Trump not only made the decision to pull-out of Syria, he pulled the rug out from under America’s leadership role in the free world.
He did not consult America’s top military leaders before announcing the decision.
He did not bother to consult or inform America’s closest allies, who have committed troops to our effort in the Middle East too.
The larger damage to America is not only about the crippling of American efforts in that region, it’s the bulldozer effect damage his one-man show decisions inflict on America’s alliances around the world. He is a one-man wrecking ball to the Western world order.
President Trump’s precipitous withdrawal from Syria won’t improve America’s national security, won’t bolster American leadership cred and it won’t put an end to America’s problem of Islamic terrorists attacking America and American interests.
America’s “War On Terror” has been failing for many years. The linchpin mission end of defeating Al Qaeda has not been achieved. The sub-strategic ends, like denying safe havens to terrorists or the massive investment in regime change, have proved to be failures in some cases and extremely costly in terms of, not only money, but in American lives and erosion of our own military might, due to endless military deployments to sustain these missions. Despite our best efforts, jihadist terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, still remain defiant, functional, and determined to fight on.
Good intentions motivated the dedicated people who formed these strategies, and many of the military leaders have spent years deployed, acquiring first-hand knowledge of this war. Good intentions have not produced a sustainable victory for America.
Without wading into Islamic extremism debates on whether jihadist terrorist represent true Islam or not, here’s another approach to viewing this. Islamic terrorists always had enough home-grown support to sustain their groups, to regenerate after devastating losses, and even more ominous to our goal to defeat them, they have a remarkable ability to network across continents and pop up under newly minted names, with new leaders, fresh fighters, money and arms. They’re fighting with their minds committed to impose an ancient religious theology on the world, while at the same time mastering flexible, mobile, and very lethal military operations using modern information/communication technology, international money operations, and often creative improvised weaponry.
Overlaying the Islamic terrorism challenge, America faced a complex strategic challenge trying to figure out how to find our own long-term strategic ends in the region, pulled between the centuries old power struggle between Shia and Sunni powers, dealing with NATO ally, Turkey’s lurch toward fundamentalism, and finding ways to work with assorted corrupt and/or autocratic regimes, whose human rights abuses run counter to our values, but whose strategic importance was vital to our mission.
Our own partisan spin war often undercut and trivialized the complex strategic challenges to defeating Al Qaeda and threat from Islamic terrorists. Accompanying our military efforts in the “War On Terror” (heck, even the names makes this point), our endless domestic word battles in America about whether calling them “Islamic” terrorists would be the magic bullet to fell them and the endless encapsulating our war efforts into catchphrases masquerading as strategy often did more to defeat a unified commitment to our military effort and impeded our military efforts.
The selling of catchphrases as strategy has no greater supporter than President Donald J. Trump, whose understanding of American foreign policy and U.S military policy comes from TV punditry SPIN. He doesn’t study anything, except TV, Twitter and news articles his minions try to get him to read. He does not read his policy briefs and he does not believe his intelligence briefs. Instead, he does listen to various friends and his pet pundits, whom he calls for advice, but in the end he is someone, who in his own words, “They’re making a mistake because I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me”.
President Trump said ISIS is defeated in Syria – a lie. He said General Mattis is retiring – a masking of General Mattis’ resignation. He reached a new low in using American soldiers as stage props, – he stole the valor of dead soldiers trying to manipulate the American people and American soldiers into supporting his decision, claiming soldiers who died would support his decision. And he lied when he said that his decision has widespread support among the U.S. military.
I could go on and on about what a disastrous leader of American foreign policy or pathetic excuse of a Commander-In-Chief President Trump is, but suffice it to say this man who trusts his gut, continually displays through his shameless, lying words and actions, that he is not only an emperor without clothes… he’s a gutless wonder, who tries to shield himself from media criticism using the valor of dead American soldiers.
That’s his crystalline defining comment about exactly who he is. He stole the valor of dead soldiers to sell his crappy spin.
12 responses to “Stolen valor”
I wish we’d never bothered at all with Syria, my main … well more than one main really but I just want to be “simple” here … my main concern was that if we did we’d do pretty near exactly what we did in both Afghanistan and Iraq – ignore the the neighboring countries where we were bound to continue to keep being bogged down.
Short of sending a Corps to Afghanistan (if we’re not gonna do anything about Pakistan) I, and from what I’ve read on SIGAR, don’t foresee any improvement in the situation until perhaps the 22nd Century. It’s one thing for the “experts” to cite the longstanding basing of US troops in Germany and Japan but what’s too often left out is that before we built officer’s and enlisted clubs we totally annihilated those countries capacities (and their will perhaps most importantly) to keep doing unkind stuff to us.
To my mind ever allowing the geniuses of Capitol Hill to “do their thing” where the ROEs of Iraq (being the majority of the population was of the very same faithstrain of Iran) was destined to turn south. And for every bad person we killed a worse one stood up and the sources for replacements of the even worse sort don’t seem to be drying up anytime soon.
Malcolm’s cited NW over on his site and I’ve a good idea what, pretty most everybody, knows in what esteem I hold for NW:
I do worry about Trump being the guy in charge of the “What’s next after we leave” part with one big caveat – I worry more that we’d never leave if either of a conventional Democrat or a Republican was in place being capable of recognizing feeding dead horses – no matter how exorbitantly expensive the feed is – is ultimately, a losing proposition.
I never wanted us wading into the Syria mess either, especially without any hope of a long-term achievable goal and just more of the same, paddling in circles approach that we’ve been stuck in since the early 200os.
However, with Trump, it’s his chaotic grasping at decisions, based on who talked him around last, that will make this a total disaster. He’s as likely to change course on a whim, just like he was talked into this by Erdogan:
He went off script in a phone call to Erdogan. Just like other times where he faces intense criticism from America’s allies, pols and the media, he’s more likely to lash out more at America’s allies and seek to curry favor with our adversaries (those strong-men he admires), which bodes poorly for any good to come from this. And he could change his mind, and change course, as unpredictably as he decided this.
He doesn’t decide anything based on any recognizable set of beliefs, principles, policy objectives – it’s always based on his mood swings and trusting “his gut” (code for his infallible wisdom). Trump followers should be wary of throwing in their lot with this unprincipled and unmoored sociopath, but still they follow him. Funny thing is they see Hillary’s extreme corrupt personality , but excuse Trump’s. Just like the Hillary followers see Trump’s, but excuse Hillary as a poor victim of people trying to destroy her.
There’s no telling what Trump will decide to do, especially if there are more Pentagon resignations and blowback – who knows he might want Sean Hannity to be Sec. of Defense next…
I well remember our conversations regarding the then two theaters and the concerns Red Lines Obama was probably gonna portend poorly outside the city limits of Raqqa (or was it Mosul?) and it did too – why the ISW never recognized our obvious talents and put us in charge of convincing the politicians will, I suppose, remain a mystery.
I also well recognize there’s gonna be major problems as Chaos Donny and his Merry Band of Less-Than-Ideals are gonna be, it would appear, “representing our interests” in the maelstrom which is the Middle East but which, you reckon is gonna last longer – Chaos Donny and his Merry Band or the Middle East Maelstrom?
Oh for the good ol’ days when the Sunni and the Shia lay down beside the lamb dining on herbs in the Valley of Love we all so fondly remember.
Something’s probably not gonna get much mention in any media, either of the two schools I’d be almost willing to bet – Vlad only very recently (officially) adopted the Russian Orthodox Establishment as his “Very Best Buddy” which, in some circles was extremely likely to’ve been viewed as at least somewhat hypocritical and, given Vlad’s well and long personal history as a Soviet Establishment insignia wearing KGB Colonel was also likely to been viewed as an “Infidel Ploy.”
And if there’s one thing we in the West know well its that infidels and the maelstrom are hard to turn into natural allies. Or at least, it generally takes alotta time for those sorts of Romeo and Juliet stories to gel.
Maybe enough time to thoroughly occupy the maelstom-minds until such time as Chaos Donny’s focused on getting a permit through to build the Trump Library.
What I’m saying basically is LB, maybe we would be chic in rose-tinted glasses. For just abit (relatively speaking).
What LB, you ain’t gonna take me to task?
Nope, JK, I am thinking about what you said and remembering way back when, pondering larger maelstroms, oh, like collapsing/waning civilizations/systems and such.
The more disturbing aspect of Trump’s decision is how much chaos he will cause in our military, which is definitely showing the wear and tear to men and materiel that 17 years of continuous war wrought.
Media is buzzing that Tom Cotton and Jack Keane are strong contenders as Sec. of Defense. Not sure where a General Keane of the ISW would take us…lol. If it is Keane, sure hope he finds better mapmakers than his ISW friends…
Heh heh, forgot about Syria’s borders. I guess I really am getting old.
Speaking of getting old though …
“[G]iven the strength of the opposition to a U.S. withdrawal — Israel, Saudi Arabia, the GOP foreign policy establishment in Congress and the think tanks, liberal interventionists in the Beltway press, Trump’s own national security team of advisers — the battle to overturn Trump’s decision has probably only just begun.”
My guess is now Lindsey Graham who not so many weeks ago shouted to the heavens, “I sure hope y’all never get into power again!” is probably thinking impeaching Trump might not be such a bad idea after all.
Just personally though, this time I hope The War Party loses. Utterly.
Well maybe not utterly … just, “this time.”
“Just personally though, this time I hope The War Party loses. Utterly.”
Was thinking JK, that with Trump, you can be sure, that even when he makes a decision that, at the moment you’re applauding, shortly you will regret cheering him.
He uses FOX news as his brain trust, so you’re more likely to get a Gen. Jack Keane, a War Party board member in good standing, than you are someone who bucks the status quo.
Chaos is sure to follow…that’s the only sure bet with Trump.
That’s why I’ve christened him Chaos Donny.
Besides my never being so fond of the Dems and #Resist insisting on calling him the “Ginga Ninja.”
Too portly to be anything even remotely Japanese.
“Too portly to be anything even remotely Japanese.”
A sumo huh?
Really LB can you imagine the guy rasslin’ anybody bigger’n say Stor …
Belay that! Don’t imagine rasslin’ of any sort where Chaos is concerned.
Wouldn’t want to put you off your lunch!
Funny, I am writing a blog post about the big picture right now. I’ll get my blog post finished and posted, then listen to this.