The situation in Syria has been FUBAR (fucked up beyond all recognition) since its inception during the Obama admin when we armed parties whose primary merit was that they opposed the evil, cruel, murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad, a second generation murderer who has used poison gas against his own people.
This is the “the enemy of my enemy is my friend, even if they are a little suspect” theory of foreign relations. This is the kind of thinking you get when the leadership has slept through history class and made “D’s” in summer school when they had to take it a second time.
This clown on the right, with the ringmaster from Russia (ever notice what a little shit Putin is), is Bahar al-Assad, who is an eye doctor educated in England. Couple of first rate assholes. [Pardon my profanity.]
You may recall that President Obama courageously “red-lined” Bashar, threatened to retaliate against him if he used chemical weapons. Then President Obama, famously, punked out and did nothing, thereby emboldening Bashar.
Shit, shit, shit, shit. Pardon me. I hate stupid. I hate bullshitters. Shit. I hate poseurs as much as I hate fakirs. Sorry, I’m over it now.
President Trump came into office and did the same thing — threatened Bashar with massive retaliation if he used chemical weapons. President Trump, however, kept his promised threat and struck Syria twice — the first time knocking out an airfield and twenty percent of Syria’s air force, and the second time destroying the headquarters and infrastructure of the Syrian chemical effort.
Well played, President Trump. I like a guy who keeps his promises.
This settled things down a little in Syria. But, we are no longer in the regime change mode.
Candidate Trump promised an end to America’s “endless” wars. Can you imagine where this country would be if we had all that money back? If we had spent it on infrastructure?
He also promised he would smote ISIS, the Caliphate, and destroy them. Destroying ISIS by increased violence is a novel way to end a war — WE USED TO CALL THIS VICTORY. Once upon a time, the US was big into victory and unconditional surrender. We should probably dust those ideas off.
President Trump made quick work of ISIS and is hard at work making good on his promise to end America’s endless wars in Afghanistan and Syria. No mother should be asked to bury their child for these shitholes.
The problem in Syria is extraordinarily complex, beyond belief, but it suffers from some basic misunderstandings.
The country of Turkey is our NATO ally. They are not our friend. They are currently cozying up to the Russians big time. We have a huge nuclear base in Turkey — planes, missiles (we are not supposed to talk about the missiles). Good NATO ally or not, the US has a strategic national interest in that nuclear base.
The Kurds are not a country. The Kurds are our friends — meaning we armed them when they were fighting both ISIS and Syria. The Kurds are not our ally, meaning we cannot have a formal alliance with an entity that is not a state.
Militarily, we love the Kurds. Sort of the same way we loved the Nung and the Montagnards in Vietnam (who also came to a bad end when we abandoned South Vietnam thereby ending that war).
Here’s the big point: When the US elicited the support of the Kurds, the Kurds and the Turks had been fighting a quarter of a century long violent insurgency whereby the Kurds were seeking a “Kurdistan” — a homeland at the intersection of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. The US had classified the Kurds in Turkey as a terrorist organization.
When we got into this unholy alliance, we should have known that the Turkish – Kurdish longstanding enmity was going to rear its ugly head at the end of this conflict.
If we won, the Kurds were going to want a homeland.
If we won, the Turks were going to want to settle their decades long score and wipe out the Kurds.
We — the Obama administration — knew this going in.
Militarily, the Turks have the 14th largest army in the world with almost 400,000 troops. Only Egypt and Iran have larger armies in that region. The Turkish army is “good” as such armies go. They have foot soldiers, armor, artillery, air power.
The Kurds have been a reliable bunch of light infantry fighters — men who will fight when given weapons, ammunition, and leadership. This is quite novel because most of the armies in that part of the world are really not fighters — witness 30,000 man ISIS routing the 900,000 man Iraqi army.
All of this brings me to my point:
1. The US got into the Syrian fight as an exercise in regime change, a strategy that quickly became recognized as unlikely once the Russians went all in with Bashar.
2. The US Congress — which possesses the sole constitutional authority to declare war against enemies of the United States — in 2001 passed a bullshit authorization to conduct a low key brush fire war — called an AUMF, an Authorization for the Use of Military Force.
I believe this one act — the ill-advised attempt to have one’s cake and eat it, too — this one cowardly act is at the heart of much of America’s inability to get out of wars that no longer have a snowball’s chance in Hell of achieving their strategic objective — IF THEY EVER HAD A TRUE NATIONAL STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE.
President Obama is the dope who got us into Syria, but the US Congress is the entity that authorized it. Dumb as a sack of rocks.
3. All of America’s military adventures for the last two decades have been based on this AUMF (and another one related to the War on Terror).
If you are going to preach an exit to wars, you have to frame an exit strategy. An exit strategy has to include an actual exit.
Therein lies the Syrian problem in a nutshell — we got in in a bastardized manner, we teamed up from the start with folks who had conflicts with our agreed allies, and we are pissing on our own legs trying to fashion an exit strategy that does not include an exit.
Go read this article by Andrew McCarthy, a guy who tells us the truth in an unvarnished and clear manner. It is the best discussion of the subject I have seen thus far.
It is a sad day, a sad situation, the ultimate outcome of a feckless and unfocused foreign policy, the illogical conclusion of the US Congress not doing their duty, and a President who intends to keep his campaign promises.
An exit strategy has to include an actual exit.
But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Have a great weekend. Stop by a church or a mosque or a synagogue or a park and say a prayer for the Kurds. They are not going to stand there and get slaughtered. They are going to run back into the mountains. They’re smart.