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Cleaning Up Obama’s Wartime Messes

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

In early April of this year, at a joint news conference with King Abdullah of Jordan, Trump said Syria is now his responsibility, added that Syria had crossed “more than a red line,” and that he inherited a worldwide mess and intended to fix it.

Predictably, this caused the “destroy-Trump” media, from CNN to the New York Times, to reflexively declare that there certainly was no mess to be cleaned up, other than the existence of the Trump presidency, of course. But even a casual observer of world events knows these media declarations are absurd and is aware, for example, that the genocide in Syria has created a refugee crisis throughout Europe and that there is an escalating crisis of terrorist attacks occurring in Paris, Manchester, and London, and across the globe, from Orlando to Kabul.

A Senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Thomas Joscelyn, in his article, Unfinished Business – What it will take to make America safe again, writes,

“The new president is right when he says he inherited a mess.  He can begin to fix it by setting the record straight with the American people. Al Qaeda is very much alive and, contrary to the Obama administration’s assertions, remains an international organization active on multiple continents.”

Here’s what Trump can do to fix this mess…

1. Educate America

It’s vitally important for Trump to educate the American electorate, making those who will listen aware that over the previous eight years, the consortium of Sunni jihadists who are at war the U.S. and the West, Al Qaeda, its allies, the Taliban and ISIS, has grown exponentially more numerous and powerful. In Syria, just one of the factions fighting a three-way civil war, there is the largest Al Qaeda affiliate ever, the al-Nusra Front, with 10,000 trained and armed fighters.

2. Understand that Iran is Anti-American

Trump needs to make Americans understand that while Shiite Iran is sending ever larger anti-Western armies into Iraq in its effort to dislodge ISIS, it is also fomenting an anti-American revolt throughout the region. Baked into the cake of Obama’s Iran deal was the tacit approval (and even funding for) Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) becoming the all-important “boots on the ground,” underwriting the Iraqi government’s attempt to recapture its territory lost to ISIS.

This means that the 4,400 American lives lost in Iraq have been squandered, given that Iraq is now allied with another sworn enemy of the U.S., Iran. Moreover, Iran is also allied with North Korea and Russia, also our sworn enemies.

What should be Trump’s next move in beginning to clean up the wartime mess left him by Obama? …

3. Realize Iraq has been lost

He needs to realize that Iraq has been lost.  Perhaps he could convince Congress to recognize a free and independent Kurdistan in the north of the country and gain basing rights there. But most importantly, in the wake of these monumental losses of influence, he must not give up on Afghanistan.

Our inability to control the county in concert with an allied Afghan government would prove to the Muslim world that the armies of Allah are ultimately more powerful than any superpower run by infidels.  The inability of the British in the 19th century, the Russians in the 20th century, and America in the 21st century to conquer fundamentalist Afghanistan would provide a recruiting tool that could well attract millions of young jihadists across the globe, the impact of which would be incalculable for the West.  Its significance is that it was where the 9/11 plot was hatched and it must not be allowed to do so again.

4. Appoint a Viceroy

Eric Prince, the former Navy SEAL and founder of the private military and security company, Blackwater, recently published a piece entitled The MacArthur Model for Afghanistan. In it he postulates that the only long-range solution for winning America’s longest war (16 years and counting) is for the U.S. to appoint a Viceroy with similar powers to that of Douglas MacArthur who ruled Japan at the close of World War II.  This would include leading all government and coalition operations including budget, command, policy, and contracting.

Prince goes on to extol the virtues of the Britons’ East India Company which governed the region with 19th century private military units then known as “presidency armies.” These were staffed with locally recruited and trained personnel and led by British and other European career soldiers and officers. These professionals lived, patrolled and fought beside local brethren.  The system in Britain’s Raj worked well for nearly a century.

5. Be like the Romans

In my newest book, Lessons from Fallen Civilizations, Vol. II, The Way ForwardI posit that the way for the US to best administer a formerly terrorist-infested country after its liberation is to adopt some aspects of the Roman Model. In my book, I write:

The system was multifaceted but upon their defeat, the commanding Roman general became their patron. He became those conquered peoples’ advocate upon his return to Rome. Immediately upon their surrender, warrior elites of the newly conquered were made to understand that the very same general who had defeated them would become their patron and benefactor. Their patron would use his power to advocate for them and ensure that they would get equal protection under Roman law.

Opportunities to share in the burgeoning wealth of the empire, and ultimately full citizenship, was afforded to them.  A patron, out of honor and tradition, would advocate for his provincials’ public works projects such as the construction of roads, new ports facilities, military fortifications, and aqueducts. These projects produced wealth for the client provincials, lots of well-paying jobs, and a new phenomenon – a rapidly-expanding middle class.



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