I’m Confused

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Secretary of Defense Mattis has resigned, he is leaving in February, presumably because Trump is withdrawing our 2000 advisors from Syria.  I agree with Mattis that this precipitate withdrawal is a mistake, and Trump is being lambasted for it in  the media.  Here is where I get confused.

Following the Saudi murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the usual suspects in the mainstream media were in full cry to have us break our alliance with the Saudis.  This of course would have benefited the Iranians, their catspaw ISIS, Turkey and Russia.

The same rogues’ gallery benefits by our withdrawal from Syria.

Now, I can understand why Mattis and I would be upset by the withdrawal, but I can’t understand why those calling for a breaking of the Saudi alliance are also upset by it.  Unless, the simple truth is that for many of them if Trump is for something, at least in foreign policy, they are automatically against it.

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28 Comments

  1. What the President of the US sees, IMHO, is a seventeen year war which has gone nowhere, with no end in sight. He sees Syria as Act-2 in this region. No clear goal and no clear way to define victory. Trump sees the carnage and waste caused by the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and simply will have nothing to do with anything close to a repetition of that disaster.

  2. Trump knows nothing about foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, as he has demonstrated by this latest boneheaded move. Our limited involvement in Syria is close to victory against ISIS and now he pulls out the rug. Pure congealed ignorance.

  3. I always thought ISIS was a valuable counterpoise to the Shia Crescent, centred in Iran and now stretching through Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

    A long war of attrition between ISIS and the various Iranian-backed Shia militias, particularly Hezbollah could only be a good thing and, if it destabilised Iraq and Syria in the process, so much the better.

    After all, it is only a nuclear-armed Iran that could possibly pose an existential threat to Israel.

  4. Been there. Done that. This week-plus is the 46th anniversary of the December 1972 Linebacker II campaign wherein two weeks(?) of low-altitude B-52 strikes accomplished more than seven years of limited war. It forced the March 1973 Paris Peace Accords (genius Kissinger), which the Commies and Watergate Congress shredded in 1975.

    Maybe another 17 years of limited war (Is that something like limited coitus?) will win Afghanistan.

    Syria and Afghanistan are only two of scores of crap-shows President Donald J. Trump inherited.

    Most of this pomp and circumstances was caused by foreign policy geniuses like Obama, Hillary, Kerry. They actually assisted ISIS start up.

    My sources say Mattis was irate over being denied permission to jump into Afghanistan armed only with his 44 year-old K-Bar knife. President Trump was sending in Chuck Norris.

    Sec. Mattis was SecDef not SecState. ForPol was not his responsibility. But, he can join CNN as a talking head.

  5. Trump knows nothing about foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, as he has demonstrated by this latest boneheaded move.

    Here’s hoping it won’t blow up in our face.

    Something Martin Kramer has written about applies here. People with historical knowledge and linguistic competence in re the Arab World and points adjacent tend to be specialists in literature, specialists in somewhat remote historical epochs, inveterately hostile to the United States and/or Israel, or some combination of the three. If you want people who know the region and are wiling to work on our behalf, you’ve got a thin talent pool . Or, at least, a thin pool outside the ranks of the military who’ve been learning by doing the last 17 years.

    Discussion of the Near East is a past-time of people who want to ride their particular hobbyhorses. Their criticisms of government policy are spurious and they haven’t a clue what an improved policy might look like nor do they care. Both the palaeo / alt-right types and the red-haze left proceed under the stupid assumption that American ‘meddling’ or Israel is responsible for all the problems therein. They also proceed under the assumption that nothing happens there injures any actor which isn’t local. They’ll traffick in political fictions and evince a brutal contempt for anyone else’s welfare, then turn around and kvetch about the depredations of the Jews. They are completely unserious and merit no respect. The purpose of this discourse is petty personal aggrandizement. That one element contradicts another element doesn’t faze the participants, because they have no practical objects.

  6. if it destabilised Iraq and Syria in the process, so much the better.

    No clue why a ‘destabilized’ Iraq is in our interest. Since the U.S. government has assisted the Iraqi government in suppressing ISIS, the President has no clue either.

    If the Iraq Body Count is correct, this has been the most tranquil year in Iraq since 2002. About 85% of the violence appears to be occurring in six provinces where Sunni Arabs form a critical mass.

  7. I have this unsettled feeling that Secretary Mattis and General Kelly have fully considered the matter and concluded that there is nothing more they can do within the Administration, that the Administration is sinking fast and that all of their efforts are of no effect.

    I do not doubt that both would fight tooth and nail for what they thought was right but strip away the clarity and I imagine neither will needlessly fall on their swords. What, really, do either of them have to prove? Both are well-regarded and have done their duty. They don’t need money or anything else from the swamp (unlike Comey et al). Again, if there was a duty to stay on and accomplish salutary things, I imagine they would do so, at whatever the cost, but staying on a sinking ship as the captain is busy blasting holes in its hull, knowing that you can’t stop him? No, no one is obliged to do so.

  8. that the Administration is sinking fast and that all of their efforts are of no effect.

    What do you fancy makes it ‘sink’? The emoluments clause lawsuits, the rogues of the US Attorney’s office in Manhattan peddling hoo ha about campaign finance violations (see David French’s wishcasting), an incipient recession, or what?

  9. The injuries are being done from so many quarters that it is really hard to pinpoint a cause. The hypocritical use of law to attack everyone connected to the President and the Administration is sickening and concerning. It seems to me to have a dampening effect on the ability of the Administration to garner the support to make policy effective. Of course, the GOP Establishment is only too happy to have an excuse to not support the President and to use the Dems for cover. Then we have the prior administration’s Manchurian Candidates, sprinkled liberally throughout the civil service and quite pleased to think that they can wait out the Administration and then go back to their own pet projects. Finally, we can’t ignore the Administration itself, particularly in the outward face of the President himself. It appears to me that the very blustering aggressive tactics that served him so well in the beginning are making the costs of supporting him too high for many moderate figures across the political spectrum. It is a perfect storm, not entirely, but mostly, engineered by Washington insiders who simply cannot abide an outsider having won their election and exercising power not within their control and oriented to the global elite that they serve.

  10. What does Trump gain from pulling out of Syria other than making Putin happy and giving the Democrats more ammunition? This move makes no sense. Trump seems to have a death wish.

  11. Apparently, people think constant wars are good. Maybe Orwell’s 1984 was a meant to be a guide book.

    Ignore the perpetually outraged/howling, lying liars in the media. They’d be screeching if the devil (Trump) were sending IN 2,000 troops. For instance, CNN is saying exactly same same as Foxnews said about Obama redeploying from Iraq.

    Hillary is still not president. All is well.

    And, the problem with all government shut downs: they are far too brief. Seen on Instapundit, “Who will spy on me, waste my money and have contempt for me?” They have $400 billion for non-essential government stuff and employees but can’t find $5 billion for border security. If they are non-essential, why am I paying them?

    Anyhow, all of a sudden people learn someone else’s sons that are fighting in Syria will be brought home and they are outraged.

    In fin, the war is not in Syria. The enemy is coming across the southern border, the academy, Congress, judges reaching decisions based on UN crap or quoting Dr. Seuss in their (long-winded) written opinions, the media, the bishops, , . .

  12. And, the problem with all government shut downs: they are far too brief. Seen on Instapundit, “Who will spy on me, waste my money and have contempt for me?” They have $400 billion for non-essential government stuff and employees but can’t find $5 billion for border security. If they are non-essential, why am I paying them?

    I’d like to be lumped with those hoping Dale Price’s paycheck isn’t held up.

  13. Apparently, people think constant wars are good. Maybe Orwell’s 1984 was a meant to be a guide book.

    Some of them do. Unfortunately, you can’t stop Iran and the sick culture they’re a symptom of by ignoring that they’re at war with us. We tried that. Even after the Marine barracks attack, we tried that. That’s how we got 9/11.

    We keep doing this– put guys in, stomp out fires, and then reduce forces before the coals are dead, then have to go back and do it AGAIN because there’s a flare-up.

    I hope that there’s a plan to arm the Kurds. Or at least, and I’m horrified to type this, the Saudis.

  14. They have $400 billion for non-essential government stuff and employees but can’t find $5 billion for border security. If they are non-essential, why am I paying them?

    Well, I know our household is part of those not sure if we’ll be paid. Elf is going in on Wed, anyways, and will at least be on call for not-sure-when-we-will-be-paid labor until funding comes through.

    It’s pretty notable what departments the Dems felt good about not funding– law enforcement!

  15. Foxfier wrote, “I hope that there’s a plan to arm the Kurds.”

    Why antagonise a NATO ally (Turkey)?

  16. Turkey. That would be our ally who refused to let us stage forces there for the invasion of Iraq back in ’02/’03, right? What’d Don Barzini say about a refusal again?

  17. Please note the declared intent to target American forces if we get in the way of his attempted genocide against the Kurds, and never mind they are utterly unconnected to the Kurds of Turkey.

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