What Did They Expect?

The editors of the Washington Post, who never met a war they didn’t like, are distraught that President Trump, without consulting his advisors, allies, or the military, has ordered that U. S. troops be withdrawn from Syria:

Betrayed by the United States and forced to fight a potentially bloody conflict with Turkey, the Kurdish-led forces could quickly abandon any further effort to control the Islamic State. They might well set free the tens of thousands of former militants and family members held in SDF-controlled camps. The 1,000 U.S. troops in Syria 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. U.S. allies around the world meanwhile will have reason to question whether they should cooperate with a government that so casually abandons military partners.

Just for the record, I think that President Trump’s remarks about retaliation against Turkey were Turkey to overreach and “great and unmatched wisdom” are overblown and border on the unhinged. They will, no doubt, be trumpeted by the media.

I wonder what the editors think the legal pretext for the U. S.’s maintaining troops in Syria might be? It certainly isn’t Security Council authorization. None has been forthcoming. In fact we are in violation of our obligations with respect to the United Nations already.

It also can no longer be that Syria is “unwilling or unable” to to defend itself, the explanation on which the Obama Administration relied heavily.

I also note that the editors of the WaPo never complained about our supplying Al Qaeda in Syria which we have in fact done.

I wonder what the editors not to mention the Kurds expected? Did they expect the U. S. to occupy Syria permanently? That was never going to happen and it has always been obvious that it wouldn’t happen.

Removing our troops peremptorily from Syria is another case of a typically Trumpian approach to policy—doing the right thing in the wrong way for the wrong reason. Given only the choices between that and doing the wrong thing in the right way for the right reason, I think I prefer the former.

I would much rather be doing the right thing in the right way for the right reason but if there is one thing I have learned it is that I don’t get what I want.

Meanwhile, what about Erdogan’s Turkey? Kemalist Turkey was admitted to NATO not Islamist Turkey. Is there really a role for an Islamist Turkey in NATO? Rather than pieties about the fate of the Kurds we should be concerning ourselves with addressing that.

6 comments… add one
  • bob sykes Link

    The truly great lie in all this is that we were fighting ISIS with the aid of the Kurds.

    The great truth, obvious to everyone, is that from its very beginning until now, ISIS was completely surrounded by its self-proclaimed enemies: Turkey to the north, the US to the east, and Assad’s Syrian Arab Army to the south and west. The so-called enemies had and have absolute, unchallenged control of all the land and air routes leading to ISIS. Yet at all times ISIS has been able to import tens of thousands of fighters and thousands of tons of military equipment and supplies, often heavy weapons like artillery and armored vehicles. ISIS was also able to operate the Syrian oil fields and to export oil in very large convoys that crossed Syria daylight for hundreds of miles, into Turkey, and to a Turkish port where the oil was sold on the world market. These convoys were actually protected from air attack by the US.

    Aside from Assad’s forces, which did and do fight ISIS, the first country to attack ISIS in Syria was Russia, and it was the Russian intervention that led to ISIS defeat in Syria. The US only intervened when ISIS at its peak captured and held Mosul in Iraq, and threatened Baghdad itself.

    ISIS was one of the many al-Qaeda affiliates that the US and Turkey nurtured to fight Assad. We still actively support al-Nusra. And we have repeatedly intervened to protect ISIS from Assad’s forces. We even allowed ISIS to withdraw from Raqqa with all its fighters and equipment.

    Turkey would like to remove Assad, but its main interest in Syria is the defeat of the marxist YPG (Peoples’ Protection Units), which has links to Kurdish insurgents in Turkey. Erdogan hopes to clear the Kurds out of the border region and to put in place a large Arab population to act as a buffer between Syrian and Turkish Kurds.

    Turkey is our third oldest ally. It joined the UNO in 1945, during the WW II, when the UNO was an anti-fascist military alliance. It signed a mutual defense treaty with us in 1947, sent a brigade to the Korean War that fought side by side with US, and joined NATO in 1953. Turkey is the essential anchor to our position in the Middle East, and it is the key to protecting the southern flanks of Romania, Hungary and Poland. Kemalist Turkey was a military dictatorship. For all his faults and authoritarian bent, Erdogan’s Turkey is a democracy.

    Driving Turkey into an alliance with Russia (and China and Iran) would be a catastrophic, world-historic blunder on our part. It would even threaten Israel’s existence, although Israel’s agents in Washington, like Lindsey Graham are too stupid to see that. The Kurds be damned. Support Turkey.

  • Turkey is our third oldest ally.

    Kemalist Turkey was our ally. It no longer exists. Islamist Turkey is no more our ally than was Vichy France.

  • TastyBits Link

    Whether friend or foe, Turkey is an ally. If the Kurds attack Turkey, the US is obligated to defend Turkey.

    The US does not have a defensive treaty with the Kurds, and as such, they are a client state, at best. We sell them the weapons they can use against our ally.

    These are interesting times.

  • Whether friend or foe, Turkey is an ally. If the Kurds attack Turkey, the US is obligated to defend Turkey.

    My point is that under present circumstances I question whether we should be allied with Turkey at all. The raison d’être for NATO is opposing the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union hasn’t existed for 30 years.

  • TastyBits Link

    According to the experts, NATO should include everybody except Russia, Iran, and Syria.

    Personally, NATO has passed its expiration date, well past.

  • We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.

    It is very difficult to persuade people who have built entire careers on the basis of eternal allies or perpetual enemies otherwise.

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