It’s about the “how”

“There is nothing for America in Syria. We haven’t defeated ISIS by taking its territory, and it wouldn’t matter if we did because sharia-supremacist culture guarantees that a new ISIS will replace the current one. The names change, but the enemy remains the same. And if you want to fight that enemy in an elective war, the Constitution demands that the people give their consent through their representatives in Congress.”

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/12/syria-troop-withdrawal-middle-east-policy/

Spoiler alert here, the above is the last paragraph in a must-read Andrew C. McCarthy piece, The Syria Fairy Tale Lives!.

Like McCarthy, I was against going into Syria for the very reasons he lays out about the nature of the Syrian opposition.  The “Syrian Moderate” myth still persists among way too many inside the Beltway and punditry smart set.  The only area McCarthy didn’t dig into in this piece is our Iraq mess serves as a prequel to this Syrian mess.  We were propping up the Iraqi government in Baghdad, since its inception, after the demise of Saddam Hussein.  Over the years the Baghdad government fell increasingly under the influence of Iranian-backed militias.  In our zeal to defeat ISIS, our mission became hopelessly ensnared in being on the side of bolstering Iranian-backed militias, in our fight against ISIS in Iraq.

The enemy of my enemy was assuredly not our friend, in this Iranian-backed militias situation.  No one hardly mentions Iraq among the polite American foreign policy set in Washington these days.  And assuredly, it’s rare to hear mention of our unintended alliance fighting on the same side as Iranian-backed militias against ISIS in Iraq.  The American people seem to prefer to stick to sound bites and catchphrase strategy, so it’s a sure bet most Americans didn’t pay any attention to the details.

There’s an American cultural preference to invest their trust in celebrities and “big name experts”, rather than facts or studying issues.  This behavior led to the Steele dossier being embraced by the media and top Obama officials, based solely on Steele’s reputation.  The same behavior led to hordes of FOX News viewers and Republicans buying the  “Syrian moderate” snake oil, based solely on people, like a popular retired general turned FOX pundit, selling it.

McCarthy covers all the bases in this defense of Trump pulling US troops out of Syria and I do agree with him on the facts, the history of the region and most especially with his analysis of Sharia supremacism.  Where I disagree is not about pulling out of Syria and lightening our footprint in Afghanistan, it’s about how we go about this process, how we manage our competing alliances and agreements and how we navigate the process with our allies, who have fought and bled with us on the ground in the ME for 17 years.  We owe them more than them finding out about the decision to pull-out in a tweet.

Figuring out a way out of Syria, that included informing our allies of the decision privately and ironing out some timelines, framework and coordination, rather than blindsiding them, by announcing the decision in a tweet to the world, should not have been too much to expect.  He didn’t give his own top commanders a heads up before tweeting his decision and that speaks to a totally unfit commander-in-chief.  He left his own military commanders out in the cold, creating unnecessary chaos and confusion about the mission.  The ramifications from how Trump went about handling his  Syria decision will reverberate way beyond Syria.  Just as with most of Trump’s actions that cause massive blowback, it’s the “how” Trump went about this that will burn more bridges than the actual decision itself.

Decided to add this thought, which I mentioned in a comment on my previous blog post about the Trump decision-making process.  Those cheering Trump’s decision to pull out of Syria should be aware that in the blink of an eye, Trump could as easily choose the above mentioned “Syrian moderate” cheerleader retired general as his next Secretary of Defense, as he could choose someone who aligns with the Rand Paul foreign policy school of thought.   The retired general is a popular FOX news pundit, afterall.  With Trump, there’s no telling.

11 Comments

Filed under Foreign Policy, General Interest, Politics

11 responses to “It’s about the “how”

  1. Sam Topeka

    You are correct in that we should considering our allies in this. We cannot betray the Kurds the way Bush 41 betrayed the southern Iraqies. There is also a question of honor. We have to worry about our good “friends”the Turks screw things up. Perhaps we don’t need two thousand troops, but some presence should be left to give logistic and supply support to our allies.

  2. JK

    We could I guess, go back to supplying the Kurds through Baghdad rather than the problematic and circuitous route from Libya into the Aegean and then “small-boating” into Tripoli Lebanon. That latter since our buddy Johnny Turk taking the Afrin canton complicated too much by splitting the northwestern Kurds from the just east of the Euphrates Kurds would maybe incite the Turks to try again something like shooting down another Sukhoi and risking bringing NATO into it. Macron’s only had a couple weeks to set up that European army he was talking about using to deter that kind of stuff.

    The good thing about shipping the arms via the government in Baghdad was, I remember CIA assuring us, only a negligible fraction was being siphoned off by “groups with affinities” to Shia militias. I forget if anybody was expressing many concerns about Baghdad putting too much ‘red tape’ in the way so I’m open to somebody refreshing my memory.

    Call me cynical but about the only thing I remember about honor in the region was mostly to do with whether a daughter had to be killed to restore it and something about somebody losing some battle in the mid 600s.

    • Umm, Baghdad seems to have rolled up the “America Welcome” mat, so no one in Washington brings up Iraq much anymore.

      I never supported going into Syria. Announcing a military withdrawal via a freakin’ tweet, with no plans or even our own military leaders aware of the decision, is no way to handle any troop movements.

      Trump doesn’t care one way or another about Syria, Afghanistan or the U.S. military. I suspect talking to Erdogan, he envisioned himself as the “great negotiator” again and decided to go off script from what had been agreed upon with his security team.

      He is the POTUS and has the power to do just what he did, but by how he makes these decisions that send his own team into chaos, while the media spin storm erupts, he assures his decision gets mired in controversy and invariably he lashes out… often at his own team members. Instead of having any notion of how to effectively lead his team to unite and accomplish his one-man show epiphanies, he resorts to lashing out at the media and mean tweets.

      He’s already on Twitter tonight fuming about how he is the victim of the media, Mattis was fired by Obama and he gave him a second chance, making Mattis sound ungrateful… He will make this the most disruptive, chaotic cluster as possible, because that’s how he does everything. He can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory almost effortlessly, it seems.

      America’s enemies have Trump’s number and egg on this whole media circus, so they will be chatting Trump up and flattering him about his “strong leadership”, to fan his ego. In for a penny with Erdogan’s surprising success, so the others will jump in for a pound…

  3. JK

    NW of 13 JAN (I’m likely to mess up this paste)
    Israel-Syria

    Israeli jets attacked an arms warehouse in Damascus. On 13 January, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that over the weekend Israel had carried out an air strike on Iranian weapons in Syria on the 11th.

    “Just in the last 36 hours the air force attacked Iranian warehouses containing Iranian weapons in the Damascus international airport,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting, according to his office.

    “The accumulation of recent attacks shows that we’re more determined than ever to act against Iran in Syria, just as we promised.”

    Comment: the Israeli newspaper Haaretz listed only two prior occasions when Netanyahu confirmed an Israeli operation in Syria. One was the downing of an Israeli F-16 and the other was the downing of the Russian reconnaissance aircraft.

    General Eisenkot’s remarks. Netanyahu was probably reacting to an unusual set of press statements by outgoing Israel Defense Force Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Eisenkot. Eisenkot recently, and unusually, told the Israeli and US press that Israeli air forces have attacked thousands of Iranian targets in Syria,

    He also said the Israel Defense Force leadership had outwitted Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, who planned and oversaw the Iranian build-up of personnel and supplies in Syria for use against Israel.

    By 2016, Eisenkot said Quds Force Commander Soleimani deployed 3,000 of his men in Syria, along with 8,000 Hezbollah fighters and another 11,000 foreign Shiite troops.

    By January 2017, Eisenkot said he received unanimous permission from the security cabinet to step up strikes in Syria to near daily occurrences. In 2018 alone, he said Israel dropped 2,000 bombs on Iranian targets.

    “The force we faced over the last two years was a determined force,” he added, “but not very impressive in its capabilities.”

    As a result of the Israeli strikes, Eisenkot said the Iranians were moving troops out of Syria and “transferring their efforts” to Iraq.

    Comment: General Eisenkot’s remarks are the first open source report on the size of the Iranian effort in Syria since 2016. In 2016, the head of Iranian veterans’ affairs, M. Mahalati, spoke about Iranian combat deaths in Syria. Open sources reported the Iranian effort began in 2013 with a deployment of 3,000 Quds Force personnel. In 2016, the open source estimate of Iranian and Iranian-supported soldiers in Syria was about 20,000, including up to 7,000 Revolutionary Guards.

    Eisenkot’s assertion about the Iranian withdrawal from Syria and new focus on Iraq is also a first from an Israeli senior officer. Assuming the statement is accurate, it adds to the justification for the US to announce it is withdrawing soldiers from Syria. The timing of the withdrawals suggests a swap. It also adds context to the Secretary of State’s comment on 13 January that the US withdrawal back to Iraq is a shift in tactical emphasis.

    • Very interesting report there JK. I am stuck on our SPIN war ya know. Keep hoping to pivot to other news, but then another SPIN attack launches… It kind of blew totally out of control over the weekend (Trump the Russian agent hysteria) and of course, that got me thinking about what lessons learned reports or studies haven’t I focused on, that might help me better understand this crazy SPIN war, even though often I suspect I’m the only one in America assessing it as an actual orchestrated information war to divide America.

      Remembered reading about this post WWII study, The Psychology of Rumor, by Gordon Allport. Had read quotes and stuff from it in other info over the years, but never actually read the study. So,taking the time to read through the study. https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.268464/page/n1

      Someday our mass media SPIN information war is going to be studied for the ravages of decades of deliberate divisive political messaging on our country… if we are able to hold our country together through this SPIN hell…

  4. JK

    Yes of course LB, you do what you know best; I do mine. What I’m best suited to I reckon – being as, especially, I’m a real ignoramus when it comes to this newfangled message boards and social media stuff.

    • I enjoy all the foreign happening updates, JK. Our media gets so mired in Trump hysteria, they miss a whole bunch of other stuff happening in the world. Wonder how much time they wasted on months devoted to Stormy/Avenatti garbage…

      Think I’m best suited to crafting, needlework, and historical romance novels truthfully, lol.

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