The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, December 21, 2018


If you were to believe the four constituencies (add the DoD to that list as card carrying members of the deep state), withdrawing 2,200 troops from Syria will destabilize the Middle East, lead us on a path to regional or global war, and otherwise create chaos and mayhem. Uh ... no. Nancy Pelosi clutched her pearls and became a hawk for a few seconds, Lindsey Graham become a neocon once more, and commentators across the political spectrum expressed concern, panic, and anger as they tut-tutted Trump's move. It wasn't consultive, they opined. It was precipitous, they complained. It wasn't collaborative, they grumbled. We should have stayed, they protested.

Why exactly? Syria is a hellhole that exemplifies the 1400 year conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslims. We cannot fix that conflict, nor can we do much to stop Muslims from killing other Muslims in a bloody and violent war. Only Muslims can do that, and they've shown absolutely no propensity to do so.

For eight years, the four constituencies, along with a hapless Barack Obama tried conventional approaches to "solve" the Syria problem, to eject Assad, and the undermine Iran (a key objective), all to no avail. They held meetings, consulted with allies, made empty threats, said all the right things with pitch perfect concern and intonation, told us that war crimes would not stand ... and then they accomplished exactly nothing.

Enter Trump. He immediately sent a message to Assad (think: his response to the use of chemical weapons: the launch of 50 cruise missles within a few months of his taking office) and crippled ISIS in Syria. But Assad, with the help of the Russians, kept rolling along, and the barbaric Islamists simply moved to another country and will likely reform and regroup as another acronym, creating serious terror problems in the future.

Russell Berman comments:
... Trump’s reticence about the United States’ ongoing involvement in faraway conflicts may resonate beyond his conservative base, finding common cause with millions of Americans who have grown weary of the decades-long post-9/11 wars. And the loud clamor of opposition to the president’s decision stands in contrast to the scale of the U.S. military presence in Syria. The approximately 2,200 troops stationed there are down from a reported peak of around 4,000 and a far cry from the more than 100,000 American soldiers who were deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan at one time. Around 5,000 troops are now fighting isis in Iraq.
This is more about symbolism than anything else. But how long should we stay? What can 2,200 troops in a sea of millions of combatants really accomplish?

Sure, this symbolic move empowers Iran in the short term (a very bad thing), leaves the Kurds (a staunch ally) with little backup, and otherwise roils our alliances. All of that is not good. But if we are to ever get out of the Syrian hellhole, someone had to pull the trigger. That someone was Donald Trump.


We've spent 17 years war-fighting (to a greater or lessor extent) in another Middle Eastern hellhole—Afghanistan. During those 17 years ww've tried to destroy the Taliban, negotiate with them, and otherwise attempted to legitimize a national government—all with little to show for it. Afghanistan's tribal politics are complex and brutal—beyond the grasp of most westerners. We have spent hundreds of billions and lost far too many American lives. It's time to leave Afghanistan as well, and for those who would object, there's only one question that they must answer: If we couldn't achieve our goals in 17 years, what makes you think we'll achieve them in the next one, two or 10 years?

UPDATE-2 (12/22/2018)

Christopher Roach comments on Trump planned withdrawal from Syria and the four constituencies' reaction to it:
In response [to Trump's announcement of a withdrawal from Syria], we hear what amounts to word salad. We need to ensure stability, protect the Kurds, shore up Israel, remain on scene for contingencies, protect Iraq’s western border (while we neglect our own), lest we “pull defeat from the jaws of victory.”

This is all unpersuasive. Wars should be fought to protect our people and further their interests. The world is too big and complicated for us either to ensure peace everywhere, or to reform the deep pathologies of the Islamic world.

As we learned in Iraq, we soon become the irritant around which multiple groups can unite if we embark on open-ended commitments to and occupations of strange foreign lands.
The "deep pathologies of the Islamic world" will haunt the West throughout this century. We cannot fix those pathologies, nor can we avoid the bloody infighting that occurs whenever Sunnis and Shia come into contact with one another, nor can we intervene every time Islam creates a humanitarian disaster among its own people (think: Libya or Syria or Yemen or Somalia) or subjugates women or violates human rights of its populations. Until Islamic countries eradicate the Islamist influence in their midst, they should be viewed as pariahs and treated accordingly.