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Syria, And Mattis

It is, I think, tragically humorous to watch The Usual Suspects complaining about the withdrawals that Donald Trump has decided on, from Syria.

What’s really amazing about all this, is that after the record of the last 15 years or so in that part of the world, they’re still having a brain hemorrhage when the rejection of the long disproven conventional wisdom finally occurs… Particularly given the Trump record of the last two years being “unexpectedly” correct about, while going against the conventional wisdom that they promulgated themselves.

Let’s face a few Stark realities.

At the moment we have something on the order of two thousand troops in Syria. What are we supposed to do with that number with the stated goals, which by the way have been bloated three times already, since Obama sent troops over there?

Remember the original mission was to eliminate ISIS? While the mission there has been largely successful to that end, we have not managed to completely eliminate them. News flash; That’s not happening. Not with that few people, and certainly not with the standard rules of engagement that we’ve been inflicting on our military the last number of years.

It’s going to take a lot more people, a lot more time, and a lot more blood than Americans traditionally have been willing to invest. Does anyone remember when I said we needed to stay in Iraq [1] for an extended period of time …perhaps 20 years ..  with a large number of people for that mission to be successful? It’s as I said before Barack Hussein Obama assumed the office….

I figure that was part of the idea, going into Iraq in the first place: Establishing a democracy in such a place, after all, would certainly lend itself to work toward altering, and, need I say it, pacifying, Islamic society, and controlling the more violent and radical elements. My take is that if such a person or group is to rise up against the Wahhabists or Salfi, they will be the product of a freshly reformed, and democratic Iraq. Which would do a fair job of explaining why the Syrias and the Jordans and the Irans are so very concerned, just now.

The very reason that those hardline Islamic states are so concerned about the insertion of democracy into Iraq is because they see ….apparently more clearly than we… that democracy, for all its faults, has one major advantage ; That it by its very nature injects social change, by way of what I will call “Social Darwinism”. Such evolution has no chance whatever under, say, a Saddam… but it DOES stand a chance under a Democracy. Under a democracy, the ideas and ideals of western culture will filter through, as they have every other place where Democracy has been installed. Japan, for example. South Korea. Etc.

This change will undoubtedly allow a more western attitude, and thereby will create the environment in which Islam’s Luther can stand forth. But this isn’t going to be a quick process. It’s going to be along slow and likely (given whom we’re dealing with) very bloody process, because changing hearts and minds is always the longest , slowest, hardest job there is. And, of course, that assumes we actually have the courage to see it through. Given the recent election, I have my doubts.

We have to stick with the plan. The consequences of not doing so are utter failure, for both they, and us. I say again; It’s not going to be quick. We in the west, cannot expect that kind of seed change to occur overnight. What we’re talking about, is dragging Islam and its followers fast forward from the fourteenth century. We cannot do that quickly, or by force and not expect violent reaction. Forced change, is never long lasting , and seldom satisfactory for anybody concerned. What needs to be done therefore, is to create an environment in which an Islamic version of Luther can stand forth, so that the culture can change ITSELF.

We weren’t willing to do it then, what in hell makes anyone think we’re going to be willing to do it now?

Secondly, we may not like Assad, but part of that bloated assignment was to get and keep Assad out of power. That’s not happening either… and the fact is, even if it does, we’re going to end up with Syria being nothing more than an Iranian puppet state, which I’m sorry isn’t any better than the current situation and in many ways, worse.

I suspect the real objection to pulling out of Syria at this point from The Usual Suspects is they don’t like the way Asad is going to eliminate ISIS. Cries of “we are turning the project over to a war criminal” kind of loses its impact, when the indications are he’s going to get the job done in a quarter of the time, and certainly far less in the way of American casualties, than we have already spent over there unsuccessfully trying to accomplish that goal. The problem of course here is that Assad will use methods not approved by the United Nations.

Hah!

Well, to be perfectly honest with you I can’t think of anything that indicates the futility of the entire concept of the United Nations than their lack of success in the middle East. The major problem, of course is that they consider all cultures to be equal. It’s that fallacy that is kept that region inconsolate since the end of the second World War.

I also suspect and suppose that a lot of the objections from the American left about this, stems from the fact that Assad doing essentially mop-up and consolidation operations there, puts Iran in a bad spot in the region. I also suspect that that was largely the reason that Obama sent troops over there in the first place… To keep Iran at the table. Iran being involved in anything extremely counterproductive to the prospect of peace for the region.

And yes I think the reversal of that policy is one reason that Jim Mattis walked out the door. Those policy differences, particularly America’s support for Israel, which has been better reflected by Donald Trump’s presidency but then by any other since Reagan, has always been a problem for Mattis. The New York Sun [2] observes;

The idea that the resignation of General Mattis as secretary of defense is a startling development that comes out of the blue strikes us as wishful thinking on the part of critics of President Trump. The general may have been irked by Mr. Trump’s plan to pull our GIs out of Syria. The record suggests, though, Mr. Mattis’ tenure as defense secretary has long been on borrowed time.

For in respect of policy, General Mattis has always struck us as crosswise with the president. This was foreshadowed before the 2016 election, when the general, at the time the former commander of CentCom, was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer at an Aspen Security Forum in Colorado. That’s the appearance where the Jar Head blamed our troubles in the Middle East on Israel.

Donald Trump’s instincts are correct in the matter, apparently being driven by the concept that there are no good actors in The region and that therefore whoever the United States decides to get behind in terms of helping them to win, the United States loses… not only money lives and prestige, but losses in terms of morality. When there’s no good options, and you pack up and go home.

Trump recognizes the United States has over the last several years been showing that it is unwilling to play this game the way it is supposed to be played, so at that point it becomes time to get out.

Parting thought: Does anybody remember a couple of years ago when we were told that Donald Trump would start to wars? Here he is removing us from two wars.

Guess who’s complaining?