One would think that Trump’s announcement of pulling out of Syria was equivalent to FDR saying we were done fighting the Japanese after our victory at Midway. I am a fan of Mattis if for no other reason than liking a military leader known as “Mad Dog.” That certainly is better than one nicknamed “Pudgy.” But there was good reason for this guy to leave and you would never hear that from the MSM.
What you heard from the media was a cavalcade of bemoaners questioning whether this was the de facto end of Trump’s presidency. So much so that when Trump joked in tweets that he was alone at the White House (his wife had already returned from their planned Florida vacation and he was having regular meetings with staff and elected officials), the MSM tried to tell us Trump was isolated as if he were held up in a bunker with Eva Braun.
First, let’s deal with the Mad Dog issue. Though he is a grown-up and apparently liked by our allies, he could have easily been the military advisor to French President Macron. He was against pulling out of the horrendous Iranian deal. He was against moving the embassy to Jerusalem. He insisted upon arming the Lebanese military which is really just arming Hezbollah. He opposed using the forces we had in Syria against Iran and its supporters muddling our purpose there. He opposed pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord. He did not want to send troops to the border to help with the surge of illegal immigrants. Lastly, he continued to refer to Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital.
I have not read that he was anti-Saudi Arabia after the exaggerated hysteria regarding a Washington Post part-time writer in the United States on a temporary visa being murdered by the Saudis that was milked to death by Turkey and Erdogan, the single worst abuser of free press in the world.
Is it any surprise that Mattis is gone? Maybe pulling the troops out of Syria was a final straw for Mattis, but he knew well that Trump wanted the troops out. He had been told eight months prior that he had six months to come back with a plan for our action in Syria, but none materialized. Trump had made clear what his intentions were in Syria and Mattis favored a more prolonged action of unknown direction.
There are a few things I know about this issue. One thing is I don’t know (and neither does anyone else) whether this is a proper decision by Trump. We have a choice: leave the troops there, maybe for a couple generations, or pull them out risking that bad actors fill the void. Even people like Lindsay Graham, who publicly split with the President, know Trump knows pulling out the troops exposes us and our allies to a bad course. Trump just disagrees about the outcome. Apparently, after their meeting they got closer to each other’s position. The troops are not coming out tomorrow and Trump is leaving a large contingent in Iraq to aid our allies in neighboring Syria.
The entertaining part of this episode was watching the vast duplicity of Washington players act as if they actually are in favor of our troops and military action. People who stood by and watched while Obama bled the military then hand-picked leaders to wussify it and said nothing. The same people who refused to criticize Obama for pulling out of Iraq and leaving it a mess on a false pretense we had no agreement to stay are screaming to the rafters about leaving Syria which was a “never-agreed-to” campaign and a totally dysfunctional state. They also skipped over praising Mattis when Obama let him go for not towing the Leftist line on the military and its culture.
It was most entertaining to read supposedly serious writers with major publications criticize Trump for not having a coherent policy in Syria. How did their editors let these pieces get to publication? The only way was they are willing to say and do anything to damage Trump.
Folks, there is no way to have a coherent plan for Syria. Syria is in the middle of what started as a civil war. It was a country run with an iron hand by a father and then his son who was supported by a small minority. As stated in Wikipedia “The Syrian Civil War is an ongoing multi-sided armed conflict in Syria fought between the Ba'athist Syrian Arab Republic led by President Bashar al-Assad, along with domestic and foreign allies, and various domestic and foreign forces opposing both the government and each other in varying combinations.” I quoted this because it could not be said better. The place is a mess.
What it does not say is that the forces opposed to Assad are fighting each other. What it does not say is that Syria has accepted the support of Iran and Russia – two of the world’s worst actors. What it does not say is that some in the region have reconciled themselves to the fact Assad is not going anywhere. What it does not say is that the only group the U.S. really supports is the Kurds. And the Kurds are hated by Turkey where they occupy a good portion of the country and want to break off to unite with the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds to form their own country.
Who in God’s name could come up with a coherent plan to confront this situation? If you put together the greatest foreign policy advisors in history, they could not come up with a policy to effectively plan to deal with the facts here. Yet, know-nothings gratuitously attacked Trump for not having one.
Trump has an interest in protecting the Kurds. Trump has an interest in stopping Iran from having a direct route to attack Israel or the Mediterranean Sea. Trump has an interest in making sure the Saudis and the Gulf States are not upset by a stronger Iran taking over Syria and expanding its hegemony throughout the Middle East.
Don’t believe all this hysteria. Let’s see how this whole episode plays out. There are lots of good in these decisions and lots of questions. Isn’t that the way it is in the Middle East?