I’m Ok With This

All for this:

On Monday, the U.S. special representative for Syria engagement publicly pledged that the U.S. commitment to Syria would not waiver. The very next day, Trump reportedly decided to rapidly withdraw all U.S. troops there. Trump appears to be discarding his entire Syria and Iran strategy at a single stroke, giving up any and all U.S. influence in the region — and disregarding the advice of his top national security officials.

If he follows through, Trump’s decision will have devastating and dangerous consequences for the United States, the region and the Syrian people.

Trump seemed to confirm over Twitter on Wednesday reports that he has instructed the Pentagon to plan for the rapid withdrawal of some 2,000 U.S. forces from Syria’s northeast, which was recently liberated from Islamic State rule.

Throw in Afghanistan and let’s bring them all home. Obviously, Tom Cotton and Lindsey Graham will be apoplectic about this, and I’m sure the Likuds will hate it, but I am supportive of us unentangling ourselves from a variety of places. I’ll let Adam handle the geopolitical repercussions, if any, although I am sure they will be far less dramatic than what the hysterics will claim.

And of course, this being Trump, there is no doubt in my mind that this will happen in the most destructive manner possible, if it happens, but the simple fact of the matter is we’ve had several years and no one has been able to dictate a coherent reason for being there, objectives that should we achieve them we will draw down, or any clear mission. Same for Afghanistan, just add 15 years.

So, whatever. Bring them home.






100 replies
  1. 1
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    Yes, GTFO has its upsides.

    Just wish it wasn’t Trump giving Syria to his good friend Vladimir.

  2. 2
    germy says:

    I have to agree with Cole.

    American soldiers are dying in Afghanistan who were children when the war started.

  3. 3
    The Dangerman says:

    Perhaps this was why Putin and MBS celebrated at the G20.

  4. 4
    Schlemazel says:

    The ‘joke’ as Vietnam dragged on with no way out was, “Lets declare victory and withdraw!”

  5. 5
    Kent says:

    I agree with Cole.

    Who cares about Syria anyway. The Russians can have it. Only REAL reason we are there is to prop up Israel. Let the Israelis make their own peace in the region.

  6. 6
    rikyrah says:

    I don’t care either.

    And, yes, get the phuck out of Afghanistan while you’re at it.

  7. 7
    John Cole says:

    @Snarki, child of Loki: Syria has been under Russian influence since the 1950’s we’re not giving them shit

  8. 8
    Nora says:

    My only concern — other than Trump’s incompetence which will make all things worse — is, what is Trump planning to do with those troops when they get out of Syria? Where is he going to send them on his next whim?

  9. 9
    Schlemazel says:

    @germy:
    My boy served in Afghanistan before and after the Iraq fiasco. He was very positive about the chances for success before. After he said it all went to hell. They could not get the support they needed, nobody was paying attention to the work that needed to be done and it was obvious the war lords were back in charge with no hope for the average citizen. W took our eye off the ball and lost Afghanistan while destroying Iraq and destabilizing the entire region. Men & women died for nothing. I want W to shove an entire box of those mints he gave Michelle up his ignorant, evil, ass

  10. 10
    The Midnight Lurker says:

    Yeah… it’s time. NPR ran a story about a month back about the Mayor of North Ogden, Utah. He was finishing up his tour in Afghanistan, two months out from being done with it forever, when an Afghan security soldier (one of the guys he was training) shot and killed him. That guy got killed immediately so justice was served, such as it was.
    There was a big celebration planned for his return at Christmas. Everybody loved him. Now they’re just another American town who has lost a favored son. When I was listening to the story, I was just shaking my head, asking myself, “Why is this guy dead?”
    Yeah, let’s bring them home.

  11. 11
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    Trump will only do whatever Putin allows, so yes, bring ’em home.

  12. 12
    Gelfling 545 says:

    I’d be thrilled if we got out. I’m leaning toward it being another “middle class tax cut” though. Being as Graham called it “Obama-like” I think Trump will find a way to forget about it. Brilliant – well, not bad – psychology on Graham’s part there. Unless, of course, this is something Trump’s masters ordered.

  13. 13
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Nora:

    what is Trump planning to do with those troops when they get out of Syria? Where is he going to send them on his next whim?

    The Boarder.

  14. 14
    oatler. says:

    “Americastan has always been at war with Westasia.”

  15. 15
    Nora says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Yeah, that’s sort of what I was thinking, if not another adventure Trump could spin as winning.

  16. 16
    The Midnight Lurker says:

    And if Cotton or Graham still want to fight, let em’ fall in and draw rifles.

  17. 17
  18. 18
    Formerly disgruntled in Oregon says:

    @Kent:

    Who cares about Syria anyway?

    I care about Syria. I care about the welfare of the innocent Syrian civilians who have endured a seemingly endless civil war. I care about the impact that conflict has on Syria’s neighbors, and on the politics of Europe and other countries, including ours.

    We are all human beings, no matter where in the world we live. And the people of our world are more interconnected now than ever before. That’s why I care about Syria.

    That said, our military engagement there hasn’t exactly been a smashing success, and I think withdrawing troops is most likely the right move – especially considering the Administration we’re stuck with for now.

  19. 19
    Ohio Mom says:

    One thing you have to give our side, although we hate Trump, we will give him credit for a good idea.

    I don’t think anyone on the right is capable of ever doing the same.

  20. 20
    germy says:

    @Schlemazel:

    W took our eye off the ball and lost Afghanistan while destroying Iraq and destabilizing the entire region.

    Yes, I wish he’d stuck to baseball and left the rest of the world alone.

  21. 21
    hueyplong says:

    Might be OK to let Republican politicians wipe each other out over this.

    Imagine Fox news going crazy trying to determine which faction to slime.

  22. 22
    JPL says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Not in my house.

  23. 23
    Adam L Silverman says:

    This is the most important part of your post:

    And of course, this being Trump, there is no doubt in my mind that this will happen in the most destructive manner possible, if it happens

  24. 24
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    It’ll be interesting to see if Lindsey suddenly becomes concerned about Mueller if he senses his dreamed-of war with Iran slipping away

  25. 25
    Mart says:

    @Snarki, child of Loki: What Cole said – allied with Russia post WWII. We get out, less chance of of us crossing bombs with the Russians again. They are willing to do what it takes to protect Assad, their very own Shah, so why not let them have it. Just hope the Kurds are not slaughtered again, but they seem to be able to handle war.

  26. 26
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @The Midnight Lurker: His boss in the Utah Guard is one of my former students. Everyone was devastated.

  27. 27

    Doll Hair Little Hands is Putin’s pet, will do whatever he is ordered to do.

  28. 28
    Mike in DC says:

    So long as we’re willing to re-extend our refugee asylum quotas to accomodate all the syrian kurds, afghan interpreters etc we will otherwise leave to die. Normally the instinct is to not abandon those who fight beside us.

  29. 29
    David Rickard says:

    Fingers crossed that between this and not getting the Wall, Trump’s cult falls apart.

  30. 30
    Aaron says:

    WTF, pissed. What are we doing in syria: stopping Our allies and good people whose rebellion we have encouraged and supported from being massacred. This is not Iraq. This is not Afghanistan. We are not being IED’ed to death because they don’t want us. These people want us there. We should support the creation of an independent state in North Syria.

  31. 31
    germy says:

    @David Rickard:

    Fingers crossed that between this and not getting the Wall, Trump’s cult falls apart.

    Don’t forget the bumpstock ban. That had to piss a few of his fans off.

  32. 32
    p.a. says:

    Likuds will hate it,

    Won’t survive Bibi’s veto. BTW, what’s going on with his corruption investigation?

  33. 33
    guachi says:

    If you want the US out of Syria, then have the balls to admit you are perfectly fine with ISIS controlling large chunks of Syria and Iraq. You don’t particularly care if Syria ever becomes a democracy and don’t care if Iraq is a functioning democracy.

    Since you didn’t have the balls to say this in your post, kindly STFU until you do.

  34. 34
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Kent: This is not completely accurate. What we’re doing in Syria is twofold. We are doing a train, advise, and assist mission with our local Syrian partners who are predominantly Kurdish, but some are Arabs, who are fighting ISIS. This is a Special Forces mission supported by a small number of Marine Corps artillery. The second thing we’re doing is, as an extension of the train, advise, and assist mission conducting stability operations among the Syrian populations where we are partnered with and training our local Syrian partners. This is being done within a “by, with, and through” of partnering with vetted local groups. If we pull out there will be four immediate effects.
    1) The collapse of the local stabilization we’re contributing too, which will result in increased internally displaced Syrians and Syrian refugees who will flee ahead of both Syrian and ISIS efforts to fill the vacuum the withdrawal will create.
    2) As a result of the first effect, we will see an increased humanitarian crisis in the areas we withdraw from.
    3) We will once again have abandoned the Kurds despite the promises we’ve made to them, which further diminishes the United States ability to exercise any form of national power (Diplomatic, Information, Military, Economic), because it further demonstrates that we can’t be trusted, won’t keep our word, and can’t be counted on.
    4) The vacuum and destabilization created by the withdrawal will be filled by both Syrian forces and ISIS. They will move to occupy and control the areas we’ve left, will fight each other in them, and this will lead to further destabilization in Syria and, potentially, throughout the Levant. It creates new stresses, challenges, and threats for Iraq and Lebanon, as well as for Israel and Turkey even though both of those states have been pursuing their own interests in Syria.

  35. 35

    I think one of the things that makes it harder to do this is that it’s going to mean owning up to our having fucked up the place and that we can’t fix it. Having to live with your mistakes, when they’ve done horrendous harm to somebody else, harm you can’t undo or heal or even make a little less shattering to whoever it is you fucked, that’s something that’s mighty hard to live with.

    And when you did it even as a lot of people around you were warning you not to… Well, that’s where we are as a country. An awful lot of us are going to fight this to their last metaphorical breath because they aren’t going to want to admit that what they did was so awful to so many blameless people. As long as we’re still there, still trying to fix it all, they can pretend we can still put it all back together. It may be harder than we think to get ourselves out of there.

  36. 36
    Barbara says:

    @guachi: Do you think U.S. presence is making any of those things more likely? Which is to say, you can care about those things but still think that presence of U.S. military on the ground in Syria won’t make a difference. My biggest concern is the same as the one expressed above. I am sure Trump has been told that there can be no additional zones of conflict based on current deployment and force capabilities. It wouldn’t surprise me if this is just a way of trying redeploy military elsewhere.

  37. 37
    Schlemazel says:

    @germy:
    Maybe never got off the coke & stroked out by the 1990a

  38. 38
    Jay says:

    So, I was reading the other day about the strange case of a US Soldier, undergoing a Court Marshal for murder.

    During operations in Manjib, Afghanistan, during the Obama Surge, he executed a suspected Talib bombmaker, who was being held prisoner. The original Military investigation cleared him, saying it “covered under the Rules of Engagement”. Who knew the ROE allowed for the executions of prisoners? The moron then went on Faux News and boasted about the murder.

    So now he’s being Court Marshalled.

    Reading up on the Manjib Operation, it was a showcase for the Surge, Multinational, big Afghan presence, big PR, even a “Government in a Box” to quickly restore Afghan Government control. Manjib is/was one of the central hubs for the opium trade.

    The Manjib Operation was a “military sucess”, but not as much as it was hyped. The Taliban never went away, the area was never fully stabilized. Military firefights continued into 2014, and the Taliban took the area back in 2016 and still hold it.

    Manjib is Pashtun. The “Government in a Box” was Dari, not their best and brightest, corrupt as the day was long, and underfunded. The Afghan Military and Security Forces were also Dari, had no local intel, didn’t even speak the local dialect, were underfunded and as corrupt as the day was long.

    The PRC’s and the Contractors built the usual photo ops, nothing the District needed, because it takes years to build the markets and restore infrastructure to wean Marjib off opium and back to wheat, but you can build a school in 6 months, half build a Government building then runn oft with the balance of the funds.

    Scott Free.

    Mere months after the Drawdown the Talib were back in control of Manjib, because they never left, they have lived there all their lives.

  39. 39
    catclub says:

    @Mike in DC:

    So long as we’re willing to re-extend our refugee asylum quotas to accomodate all the syrian kurds, afghan interpreters etc

    Apparently the only rule in the Middle east is that at the end of the day, the Kurds will be abandoned to the tender mercies of the other people in the region.

  40. 40
    gvg says:

    Trump will fuck this up too, beyond comprehension. What ought to be done intelligently is going to be a total disaster. Refugees flooding everywhere, causing Europe to get more nationalistic, people starving to death, the US still refusing to take a share in and leaving all those who cooperated with us to die in the aftermath. W also angered me by not managing to bring back our interpreters from both Afghanistan and Iraq. I consider that a double cross that will hurt our country down the road. Trump will do worse though. He will do this so badly that it will actually discredit a non interventionist point of view in the future. Fear mongering republican congressmen for the last 17 years have contributed.
    Will leave a lovely mess for democrats to clean up. I hope they have the sense to stay clear of endorsing Trump before it explodes, because it will.

  41. 41
    mapaghimagsik says:

    Good or bad move, I can only see it being done if it profits the Orange disaster and it will be accomplished in the worst way possible.

  42. 42

    @Schlemazel:
    There’s no knowing if Afghanistan or Iraq could have been stabilized and turned into healthy countries. Bush didn’t try. He assumed that his noble war president valor had fixed everything. Cheney, a true neo-con, believed something very close, that all you really had to do was send in half a dozen loyal believers in American supremacy, and they could fix things up on the fly according to dogma. Then all we had to do was sit back and watch the Middle East bow down and praise us. After seven years of that, the ship had sailed. Obama was handed two unfixable disasters. Were they impossible from the beginning? That’s now an unknowable counterfactual.

    We had no business being in Iraq, winnable or not, of course. Afghanistan is debatable and debated.

  43. 43
    TheDeadlyShoe says:

    Rojava is at least plausibly righteous. I am reeeeally not looking forward to the turks-ISIS kurd genocide teamup. Granted, that’s a feeling without an exit strategy….

  44. 44
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    This is what terrifies me.

  45. 45
    Betty Cracker says:

    @guachi: That kind of bad-faith framing can cut both way. Allow me to demonstrate:

    If you want the US to stay in Syria, then have the balls to admit you are perfectly fine with US soldiers dying there. You don’t particularly care if US soldiers die in Syria, and you don’t care if their deaths destroy their families.

    Since you don’t have the balls to say this in your comment, kindly STFU until you do.

    See how that works?

  46. 46
    But her emails!!! says:

    @TheDeadlyShoe:
    Leaving Syria on a whim is a shitty idea. Leaving ’cause Iraq and Afghanistan is a moronic justification. There are actually fucking human lives depending on what is a fairly minimal investment of troops and support by the US. But you know, let’s get those troops home so they can go sit twiddling their thumbs on the southern border instead.

  47. 47
    Dan B says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Agree. This withdrawal will produce chaos. It is possible to bring peace with careful and slow victories but it’s not possible with chaos. Stability can produce stability but violence can only produce more violence.

  48. 48
    Jay says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Yup, it’s actually the only Western “sucess” in Syria, and is/was achieved with minimal force other than airpower, or arms shipments.

    And most of the “sucess” relies on the hard work and sacrifice of the Royjova Kurds for 4 years to not only defend and build, with minimal external support.

  49. 49
    But her emails!!! says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    How many US soldiers have died in Syria?

  50. 50
    A Ghost To Most says:

    We need to protect the Kurds. Leaving Syria exposes our only true friends in the region. Perhaps we could get the Kurds to declare a Kurdish Homeland, build a big ass base there, with our only task being to protect the Kurds and other minorities (e.g. Yazidis).

  51. 51
    Josie says:

    I can’t believe we are going to screw over the Kurds again. It is amazing that they will still partner with us, but I suspect this will be the last time. We are not good allies.

  52. 52
    Schlemazel says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:
    Iraq was a disaster of lack of planning coupled with fantasy Intel the CHeney admin wanted to be true.
    The impression I got from my son was that when they first got there they identified locals that understood the place (they are not al just Afghanistanis they are a mix or ‘tribes’ none of whom like each other very much. They started to make changes like improving infrastructure and helping people – winning hearts and minds if you will. He said the Taliban was losing the PR battle & he was getting great cooperation out of former members.
    The ‘we’ moved on to destroying Iraq and all of that was undone. Projects were never finished, promises were not kept and allies were abandoned. People that had been working with us returned to the Taliban.

    Could we have ‘won’? No way to be sure but it was a damn site more likely before Iraq than after

  53. 53
    Baud says:

    Despite some similarities, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan are all kind of different from each other. Not sure it makes sense to treat them as a unit.

    And I will continue to adhere to my view of not trusting Trump to do even the right things in a way that won’t make things worse for us in the long run.

  54. 54
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Josie:
    Bad friends are better than no friends. It’s a tough hood.

  55. 55
  56. 56
    tobie says:

    @Aaron: @Adam L Silverman: It seems like a lot of the comments in this thread are about Afghanistan, not Syria. Two things that worry me about a hasty withdrawal from Syria — one is the fate of the Kurds in Syria and Iraq (Turkey will be given carte blanche to go to town on them); the other is rise of new Sunni militants or the return of ISIS once Iran secures a foothold in Syria. Will Saudi Arabia and Turkey sit idly by if this happens?

    ETA: The mideast gives me a headache whenever I think about it. Talk about irresolvable conflicts.

  57. 57
    Schlemazel says:

    @Josie:
    it is like the old joke about why are you playing in this game, you know it is rigged? Because it is the only game in town

  58. 58
    NotMax says:

    We have troops of one sort or another deployed in over 100 countries. If what you’re after is withdrawal, there’s a wide range of choices less fraught with ominous consequences for doing so than Syria.

    Like it or not, being a superpower means employing power. And with that comes super responsibility.

    And as others have pointed out, with an administration who would screw up a one man masturbation contest, Murphy’s Law will be on overdrive.

  59. 59
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @NotMax:

    And with that comes super responsibility.

    We have a responsibility to the Kurds.

  60. 60
    The Moar You Know says:

    So, whatever. Bring them home.

    A-fucking-men. I wish Obama had done it but since he wasn’t willing to do the right thing for the right reasons, I guess it will have to be Trump, who will do the right thing for the utterly wrong reasons. That’s fine. I no longer care. Just get us out. The whole fucking Middle East. We’ve been there since I was 35 and I’m now 52. It’s done nothing but get worse every year. That’s ludicrous.

  61. 61
    Baud says:

    Even if we do withdraw, there’s a question of who we will continue arming.

  62. 62
    Dan B says:

    The Russian Foreign Ministry approves of the withdrawal and promises that peace will result.

    Assad and his supporters want stability by eliminating all opponents. Putin benefits from chaos in the region so supports Assad’s military, but.. he probably doesn’t want Assad to achieve total victory since that would make him harder to control.

    The praise from the Russians makes it sound like they are happy that Trump heeded their request. Anti-communist heads are exploding from the cognitive dissonance.

  63. 63
    Betty Cracker says:

    @But her emails!!!: I don’t know that any have, but they’re certainly at risk if they’re in a war zone, wouldn’t you agree? The point is, there are risks associated with staying too. Why not make an argument about why troops should stay instead of putting words someone never said in their mouth? I can see accusing a shithead like Trump of not giving a damn about what happens to Syria since he’s demonstrated repeatedly he doesn’t give a damn about anyone but himself. But Cole’s not like that. He can fend for himself, but I thought it was a low-blow and illogical to boot. Just pointing that out.

  64. 64
    CaseyL says:

    @NotMax:

    Like it or not, being a superpower …

    The US will be about as much a superpower as Britain is, by the time the Trump-GOP-Russia thing is done. That may be the only – and inadvertently – positive thing they accomplish.

  65. 65
    The Moar You Know says:

    If you want the US out of Syria, then have the balls to admit you are perfectly fine with ISIS controlling large chunks of Syria and Iraq. You don’t particularly care if Syria ever becomes a democracy and don’t care if Iraq is a functioning democracy.

    @guachi: I’ll happily sign on to that. Really don’t care. Get our people home. Syria will never be a democracy and neither will Iraq. Do I have your permission to speak now, arbiter of Balloon Juice?

    Oh wait, I don’t need shit from you.

  66. 66
    hells littlest angel says:

    This victory over ISIS is Trump’s greatest achievement since that wall he built.

    IOW, an announcement is not the same thing is an action.

  67. 67
    A Ghost To Most says:

    Marcy Wheeler:

    By yesterday morning, Emmet Sullivan probably became one of the few people outside Mueller’s team and his DOJ supervisors that understands the activities that Trump and his associates, including Flynn, engaged in from 2015 to 2017,” Wheeler wrote. “He understands not just the significance of Flynn’s lies, but also how those lies tied to graft and conspiracy with foreign countries — countries including, but not limited to, Russia.”

    “It should gravely worry the Trump people that Sullivan’s comments about whether Flynn’s behavior was treasonous came from someone who just read about what the Mueller investigation has discovered,” she added.

    rawstory

  68. 68
    Mike in Pasadena says:

    In the weeks and months after 9/11, Bush/Cheney extraordinarily rendered (disapeared/kidnapped) people from places like the streets of Milan and the halls of JFK airport. That was done so we could have the Syrian government torture the “detainees” on our behalf. Having accomplished the torture, um, “enhanced interrogation,” we have no further need for Syria. Besides, if we need more torture, we can just ask the head of the CIA to do it. Experience counts.

  69. 69
    Honus says:

    @The Midnight Lurker
    @Adam L Silverman:

    this may get me vilified, but when I read about this guy a few weeks ago I didn’t feel much sympathy. He was in his fifties and had eight children at home, from toddlers to teenagers. I doubt that had to be in Afghanistan, or was there against his will. He should have been home helping his wife take care of those kids instead of choosing to go to a useless war.

  70. 70
    Jay says:

    @tobie:

    The Royjova Kurds have maintained “ties” to the Assad Regime along with other “regional” allies.

    With the US gone, there’s several scenarios. Assad, Russia and Iran become the Kurds backers, and Royjova returns to Syria.

    Turkey, with or with out Syrian and Russian support, uses the Turkish military and it’s al Quida ground troops to try to overrun Royjova and parts of Irbil Province it doesn’t already control.

    As Turkey would be a harder “nut” to deal with, it’s in Syria’s “best interest” to make a deal with the Royjova Kurds, more so as they don’t really have the forces to add another area to garrison.

  71. 71
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jay: Tactical success, strategic failure. Both theater and national strategic.

  72. 72
    Aleta says:

    Didn’t he say during the campaign that he already had a plan to defeat ISIS but he wasn’t going to tell anyone.

    And at another point said he was smarter than ‘the generals’ ?

    Also, these quotes:

    “We are going to convene my top generals and give them a simple instruction. They will have 30 days to submit to the Oval Office a plan for soundly and quickly defeating ISIS. We have no choice.”

    “As president, I will call for an international conference to defeat ISIS. We will work side-by-side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel.”

    “One of my first acts as president will be to establish a commission on radical Islam which will include reformist voices in the Muslim community who will hopefully work with us.”

    I’m going to print out quotes like this. Whenever I meet a supporter I’m going to make them swallow the paper.

  73. 73
    trollhattan says:

    @But her emails!!!:
    We (the US) have lost five in Syria. Is that a good number?

  74. 74
    PJ says:

    @Mart: @Kent: Lots of Syrians are going to die, be tortured, and suffer because we pull out. This is not all on the US, by any means, but there are real repercussions to intervention and failure to intervene that extend far beyond the US. That’s not a decisive argument for staying, but the US needs to have a coherent policy and strategy for when it intervenes and when it doesn’t, and what happens when it decides to pull out, and we don’t have any of that. All we have is Trump doing what the Russians tell him to do, and him expecting diplomatic and military coordination with allies to be a profitable protection racket.

  75. 75

    @Baud: Whoever give us the highest tribute/ransom

  76. 76
    Aleta says:

    Got an email yesterday that all Saudi students at Canadian universities are being made to leave Canada. (I assume by the Saudis.)

    US university departments are being asked to look at the graduate students to see if any would be a good fit and could be accepted. (Many are probably coming with funding.)

  77. 77
    tobie says:

    @Jay:

    With the US gone, there’s several scenarios. Assad, Russia and Iran become the Kurds backers, and Royjova returns to Syria.

    This is possible but I think unlikely. My sense is that Iran does not want to empower Kurds, since that would destabilize Iraq, where Iran has the upper hand.

  78. 78
    Aleta says:

    We should be accepting large numbers of immigrants and refuges from Syria — instead Trump has demonized them, said he would “stop the tens of thousands of people coming in from Syria.”

  79. 79
    TomatoQueen says:

    So, we stumble in, make a mess, stumble out again, leave the Kurds to cope, and all of them vulnerable to barrel bombs and woteva poison gas that Asshole forgot to destroy. White Helmets do what they can, Alaa’s House of Cats has two vets, hundreds of cats, dogs, and even some goats, and does what it must. Shameful.

  80. 80
    But her emails!!! says:

    @trollhattan:
    I don’t know. Now that we know the number of US combat deaths we have to figure out the number of Kurds and Syrian civilians we’re willing to sacrifice to prevent that level of combat deaths going forward.

  81. 81
    OGLiberal says:

    If you’re going to use the Kurds as a reason not to leave Syria then you should have been all aboard the Iraq War Express. Yes, they’ve been screwed over many times by many countries and yes, we shouldn’t make promises to them we can’t keep. But Syria doesn’t want an independent Kurdistan. Iraq doesn’t want an independent Kurdistan. Iran doesn’t want an independent Kurdistan. Turkey doesn’t want an independent Kurdistan. The Saudis may say they want one but only because it would piss off all the countries over there that they hate, which is most of them. Ditto, Israel. We’d have to piss off both friend and foe if we want to go all-in for an independent Kurdish nation – don’t think any party here is willing to do that and don’t think I want us to make the sacrifices that would be require for this to happen.

    We went all in during WWII – and we got the desired result. Since then everything we’ve committed to militarily has been half-in/half-assed and almost none have worked out as planned. Either sell the American public on all-in or do whatever you can outside of military options to try to achieve the desired outcome. Heck, even that doesn’t work out. We didn’t commit our military (in anything but a very limited support function) to the Iraq coup in 1953 (and the subsequent Shah years) or Soviet-era Afghanistan. Committed a lot of other things but not military. Neither worked out very well for us, at all. On top of that, a Castro still leads Cuba, a Kim still leads North Korea. The countries we screwed around with in Central and South America are still a mess. The Balkans are not much better.

    All-in or nothing. Selling all-in to a US public that is basically threatened by nobody existentially is going to be a very hard sell. And then there’s getting the support of our allies for all-in – don’t see that happening. Even all-in for WWII was a hard sell until Pearl Harbor. Not saying I want all-in – just if you’re going to do it, do it with everything you have and tactically need. Shinseki basically got canned for arguing this re: Iraq…can’t see anybody else taking that stand.

  82. 82
    Kent says:

    @Formerly disgruntled in Oregon:

    Who cares about Syria anyway?

    I care about Syria. I care about the welfare of the innocent Syrian civilians who have endured a seemingly endless civil war. I care about the impact that conflict has on Syria’s neighbors, and on the politics of Europe and other countries, including ours.

    We are all human beings, no matter where in the world we live. And the people of our world are more interconnected now than ever before. That’s why I care about Syria.

    That said, our military engagement there hasn’t exactly been a smashing success, and I think withdrawing troops is most likely the right move – especially considering the Administration we’re stuck with for now.

    I should distinguish between Syria and Syrians. I have no interest in Syria as some sort of geopoltical prize in the “Great Game” of geopolitical strategy in the middle east. I could care less as to whether it falls under the US sphere of influence or not. I do, however, have sympathy for Syrians as a people, just as I do for Congolese, Tibetans, Timorese, Indigenous Guatemalans, and people from everywhere.

    I’m also not convinced that US military intervention is ever really useful for human rights reasons. One hopes that it would be but the record over the past 20 years suggests the opposite.

  83. 83
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Honus: Everyone serves for their own reasons.

  84. 84
    Jay says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Tactical sucess built because the Royjova Kurds and Syrian Tribes had already built sucess on the ground in defending and are a good partner.

    Strategic failure because of all the other arm, advise and assist operations.

    @tobie:

    Kurds arn’t a monolithic political, religious, cultural or language block. The Royhinga Kurds are predominantly liberal socialists, and are allied with the Turkish PPK. They have advisarial relations with the two dominant Iraqi Kurdish power groups who they regard as “sell outs” and no truck with the Iranian Kurdish groups.

    The Royhinga Kurds and the PPK were the ones who first came to rescue of the Yardzi’s and the Iraqi Peshmurga first tried to stop them, then refused support, until the Yardzi genocide blew up politically.

  85. 85
    Jay says:

    @OGLiberal:

    The Royhinga Kurds don’t want an independent Kurdistan. They want a federalized Syria with an amount of autonomy.

  86. 86

    @Aleta: The T admin is not even giving the mother of a dying two year old a waiver from the Muslim ban.

  87. 87
    Kent says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    @Kent: This is not completely accurate. What we’re doing in Syria is twofold. We are doing a train, advise, and assist mission with our local Syrian partners who are predominantly Kurdish, but some are Arabs, who are fighting ISIS. This is a Special Forces mission supported by a small number of Marine Corps artillery. The second thing we’re doing is, as an extension of the train, advise, and assist mission conducting stability operations among the Syrian populations where we are partnered with and training our local Syrian partners. This is being done within a “by, with, and through” of partnering with vetted local groups. If we pull out there will be four immediate effects.
    1) The collapse of the local stabilization we’re contributing too, which will result in increased internally displaced Syrians and Syrian refugees who will flee ahead of both Syrian and ISIS efforts to fill the vacuum the withdrawal will create.
    2) As a result of the first effect, we will see an increased humanitarian crisis in the areas we withdraw from.
    3) We will once again have abandoned the Kurds despite the promises we’ve made to them, which further diminishes the United States ability to exercise any form of national power (Diplomatic, Information, Military, Economic), because it further demonstrates that we can’t be trusted, won’t keep our word, and can’t be counted on.
    4) The vacuum and destabilization created by the withdrawal will be filled by both Syrian forces and ISIS. They will move to occupy and control the areas we’ve left, will fight each other in them, and this will lead to further destabilization in Syria and, potentially, throughout the Levant. It creates new stresses, challenges, and threats for Iraq and Lebanon, as well as for Israel and Turkey even though both of those states have been pursuing their own interests in Syria.

    I’m sure that you know orders of magnitude more about this situation than I do. But from my simple minded observations, it seems that every mIlitary intervention we have undertaken in that part of the world for ostensibly humanitarian reasons has backfired and spiraled out of control, or hasn’t achieved its objectives: Afganistan, Iraq, Somolia, Lybia under Obama, Yemen. The examples of success are pretty few and far between. Probably the Kosovo intervention, maybe the first Gulf War. I’m not sure what else.

    If I was convinced that leaving a small contingent in Syria was going to result in a different end game 10 years from now I might feel different. But that never seems to end up being the case. There doesn’t seem to be any end game at all at this point.

  88. 88
    OGLiberal says:

    @Jay: Apologize for not knowing all the distinctions – I spent 10+ years emerged in reading stuff about the Middle East, Iran and Afghanistan/Pakistan but have taken a long break – which started before the current Syria crisis – so not fully up to date. But I get it – the Kurds are not a monolithic group.

    Still, you either go all-in – and all-in may vary based on situation but we are certainly not all-in with Syria – or don’t go at all.

  89. 89
    Schlemazel says:

    @Honus:
    man, that is some Republican level of empathy there
    there may be a hundred reasons he chose to continue his service

  90. 90
    Honus says:

    @David Rickard: no, Trumps cult isn’t about actually achieving anything, it’s about resentment. It will stay intact because he will blame democrats for denying his followers the wall they richly deserve. Hating the libs is more important to them than the wall.

  91. 91
    Kent says:

    @TomatoQueen:

    So, we stumble in, make a mess, stumble out again, leave the Kurds to cope, and all of them vulnerable to barrel bombs and woteva poison gas that Asshole forgot to destroy. White Helmets do what they can, Alaa’s House of Cats has two vets, hundreds of cats, dogs, and even some goats, and does what it must. Shameful.

    I remember pretty much the EXACT SAME arguments being used to justify the endless war in Vietnam back in the 60s and early 70s. There was a whole lot of language to the effect of “we can’t abandon our Vietnamese allies to the communists” at the time.

  92. 92
    But her emails!!! says:

    @Kent:
    Level of troops committed, casualty levels and the quality of our allies don’t invite comparisons to Vietnam.

  93. 93
    Jay says:

    @OGLiberal:

    There is no going “all in” in Syria. And WWII is a great analogy.

    WWII didn’t end “neatly”, nor did it end in 1945, the last shooting was in 1954, and from 1944-1949 there were massive realignments of borders, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and local genocides.

    See, Savage Continent, Europe in the Aftermath of WWII.

    The “peace” that came eventually in Europe was the result of massive programs of ethnic cleasing that carried on after the official end of WWII that turned multicultural societies that had existed in some cases for almost a thousand years into mostly homogenous ethic societies.

    And where these norms were not achieved, have since WWII blown up into more recent conflicts.

    At it’s peak there were 574 different armed groups fighting “against”, ( The Syrian State, Alwites, Christians, Druse, Kurds),

    341 fighting “for” ( or just defending their homes).

    Syria is an example of how Safilialism in a multicultural society can tear it apart, but not build a replacement.

  94. 94
    Aleta says:

    @schrodingers_cat: She got the waiver yesterday. I don’t know how long it will take her to get there. (If we’re talking about the same story.)

  95. 95
    Aleta says:

    @Aleta: I meant to include Afghanistan. Basically, since we leave countries in very bad shape since at least Vietnam, I propose that any country we send troops into should get refuge status and advanced immigration status. (Harder for R to vote to invade, a bonus.)

    In every recent country I’m thinking of, we went in claiming that a part of the population wanted us there. Or at least would be working with us once we were there and had won their hearts with our natural born wonderfulness. But at the same time they tell us that these people from the countries we engaged with, who worked with us in large enough number, are odds on a high terror risk? These are illogical equations.

  96. 96
    NotMax says:

    @Aleta

    Grenada endures.

    :)

  97. 97
    OGLiberal says:

    @Jay: Thanks for the background. Adding “Savage Continent, Europe in the Aftermath of WWII” to my reading list – sounds very interesting. That said, whether or not it’s officially “all-in”, I want honesty from our political leaders about how effed up and difficult this stuff may be. I wasn’t anywhere near being alive during WWII times but my impression was that our political leaders at the time sold the sacrifice appropriately – with the subsequent “low-level” conflicts that followed, the public was led to believe that is was no big deal, we’ll cakewalk through this. Often not the case. Let people know, honestly, what price we may have to pay. Also wasn’t alive during the time (or most of it, at least not at an age I’d remember) but my guess is that during Vietnam, the many years of describing our actual combatants as “advisors”, led folks into believing our folks weren’t at any serious risk when, in fact, they were dying. The Syrian situation reminds me of this – we’re just “training” and “advising”.

  98. 98
    Jay says:

    @OGLiberal:

    Once you are “stuck in”, there is institutional resistance to changing course. The US got “stuck in” Vietnam in 1945.

    Politicians telling “hard truths” don’t appeal to voters, ( eg. Climate Change), often know less than the average avid reader, are often advised by Idealogues or are themselves, Idealogues.

    There is also a huge anti-intelectualism embedded in US Society, even in arms of the Government. Does anybody want to read a 145 page dissertation on all the different “kinds” of Kurds and how that relates to local community relations in an ever changing environment?

    Then, War, especially Revolutions and Civil Wars change the participants. People become brutalised. Only the strong survive. Grudges build up. Coelitions form, and break. Look at the Ildib Offensive of 2016. Only one of the “Free Syria” groups remains, under the same name, ISIS. All the other groups have broken, reformed under new names, changed ideology, ( some more extreme, some less), changed allies, have different outside sponsors, currently occupy areas they did not start off in.

    And in the Middle East, the US’s three major allies are Israel, Sawdi Arabia, and the Petty Little Kingdoms, all with their own games, agenda’s, military and intelligence connections to their US Counterparts, and hundreds of billions of dollars in lobbying influence in the US and other Regional Allies.

    On top of that, since Kosovo, groups have learned how to “use” Western Interventionist ideals, for their own ends. As an example, Lybia:

    https://www.belfercenter.org/publication/lessons-libya-how-not-intervene

    The US got “stuck in” Syria, first by providing non-lethal aid and humanitarian aid to the Free Syrian Army, which wasn’t Free, not entirely Syrian, and wasn’t an Army. Meanwhile FSA “groups” had their own pipelines of weapons, ammo and advisors, from Lybian Jihadi networks, to al Quida networks, to Sawdi Arabia and the UAE. As a result, a bunch of the “moderate” FSA stopped any pretense at being “moderate”.

    Meanwhile, ISIS invaded, grew strong, then attacked back into Iraq causing an “International Crisis”, not just a Syrian one. So the US undertook two “arms, advise and assist” operations. A CIA one to aid anybody who promised to fight ISIS. That failed because most of the groups preferred to fight alongside ISIS against the Syrian Government, or just expand their territories against other regional groups. Often groups that did want to fight against ISIS, were disarmed and taken prisoner by other groups.

    A US Military mission to “vet” FSA groups that could be formed into a Free Syrian Army. That too failed because by then there were too few not radicalised, to form an effective “army”, and because they wern’t radicalized, they didn’t fare well in combat against people willing to commit suicidal attacks.

    The Royhinga area’s aside from a few airbases and oil and gas fields were abandoned by the Syrian Army early on in the Civil War. The area in the beginning, didn’t see much combat, but the Royhinga, with some aid from the PKK, Iraqi Tribals and the Syrian Army, build an Army, defences, a civil/military society and a form of Government.
    Even after they rescued the Yardzi’s, they didn’t get any “Western” support, other than lip service. Turkey hated them too much, the Iraqi Kurds hated them too much, they had mutual aid agreements with the Syrian Army, and they are Socialists.

    When they showed that they could fight as fanatically as ISIS, against ISIS, when social media feeds became filled with pretty Royhinga female snipers and ex-Military Western Volenteers, they started getting air support and some artillary support out of Iraq. When the US Military’s FSA Project blew up for the third time, and ISIS was being pushed into the border areas of the Royhinga, Russia started deploying to Syria, Hezboallah and Iran started bolstering the Syrian Army,

    The Royhinga got their own “arm, advise and assist” mission, and it’s been highly effective, ( unlike the others, unless you count the UAE’s, Sawdi Arabia, Russia, Iran), basically “breaking” the back of ISIS in Syria.

    The US Strategic Goal with the Royhinga is to:
    – block Turkish attempts to seize Ildib
    – be able to counter Turkey’s al Quida fighters in Ildib
    – hold the gas and oil fields to force Assad to if not accept a full democracy, accept the federalization* of Syria,
    – grind down the remains of ISIS and keep it pinned down in one area,

    To name a few.

    * because in most of the West we live in federalized systems, we take them for granted. In federalized systems, from federal level to the township, there are clear deliniations of power, taxes, responsibilities, with local representation. In Syria, like Ukraine, every Official often from State Governor down to Dogcatcher is appointed by the Government in the Capital.

  99. 99
    TomatoQueen says:

    @Kent: I remember that stuff very well too. Same ol same ol. Any good that comes of it is purely accidental and never where expected or imagined, like retrospective television (this week’s Medevac is brilliant) and, and our great American heretofore specialty, thriving second and third generation refugee communities; in case of hand-wringing over translators, there’s a good number of them, from Iraq and Afghanistan and Eritrea and Somalia, not to mention my pal Malik from Cairo, driving taxis in Northern Virginia. How many translators can we get out this time?

  100. 100
    Aardvark Cheeselog says:

    I would agree with OP if it didn’t involve hanging the Kurds out to dry Yet Again.

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