Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Meltdown Over Syria

From the American Conservative:
And what about if the United States withdraws? Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is likely to attack the Kurds, which he sees as a threat to his homeland. (Though even there, the crystal ball is murky. As Joshua Landis pointed out on Twitter yesterday, the Kurds helped fight off Arab rebel militias, and Assad may decide he needs them as allies in post-war Syria.) Some combination of Assadists and Russians will then move in against the straggling rebel and ISIS remnants, the latter of which are still committing horrific atrocities but largely defeated and shut out of major population centers. Syria after that will be changed, tense, bloodstained, aggrieved. But it will be more stable, at least, than it was during the war, perhaps enabling the trickle of refugees returning home to become a gush. And even if that scenario proves too rosy, even if Turkey and Syria somehow end up skirmishing, what is America supposed to do? What justifies the expenditure of another dollar or soldier in a conflict as intractable as that? What net good do we accomplish by planting ourselves in front of a powerful NATO nation on the other side of the globe? (Read more.)

From the Spectator USA:
Warmongers on the Left and Right are united in their fury at President Donald Trump’s extraordinarily bold and brave decision immediately to begin withdrawing all US troops from Syria. For those of us who prefer peace, it is a sure sign that Trump deserves our unconditional support and gratitude, no matter how we view the rest of his presidency. After all, the only other time Trump united the neocons and liberal hawks was when he launched a futile cruise missile barrage last year at an empty Syrian airfield in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack against civilians.

It is a sad reflection on the state of the Western media that it is only by unleashing deadly weapons against a sovereign Arab country that – in the infamous words of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria at the time – the Commander-in-Chief can appear ‘presidential’. A year later, we still have no incontrovertible evidence that a chemical attack had in fact been carried out or, if it was, who was responsible. Now Zakaria is whining that Trump’s latest decision to remove troops from Syria feels worse than the moment former President George W. Bush announced the end of major combat operations in Iraq – an invasion, incredibly, Zakaria’s lies helped pave the way for.

For those of us living in the real world, Trump’s decision to remove the military from the Syrian quagmire is the bravest and most logical decision in the Middle East by an American president since Eisenhower ordered Britain, France and Israel to withdraw from Suez. After all, US troops – unlike those from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, who were invited to fight Isis by the Assad regime – were stationed there illegally, and served no discernible strategic American interests. Worse, they were fighting an Islamic State partly armed by the Obama administration, which had recklessly backed other Sunni terror groups in an effort to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

During the election campaign, Trump was uniquely eloquent in pointing out all this. He was also alone in highlighting the disastrous consequences of earlier military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. This, then, is one of those moments those of us not fond of death and destruction can once again celebrate that Hillary Clinton – who championed the Libya campaign, wickedly joked about Gaddafi’s murder and supported regime change in Syria – never made it to the White House. In stark contrast, by withdrawing US troops from Syria, Trump is guided by a rational and humane assessment that Western military intervention in the Middle East always ends in disaster so should be avoided wherever possible. (Read more.)

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