Sunday, January 06, 2019

Was Pulling Out of Syria the Right Move?

By Douglas V. Gibbs
Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host

My military strategy has always been shock and awe.  I believe swift and decisive actions ultimately, in the end, reduces the number of dead.

It was true with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and it's true in today's Middle Eastern theater of war.

It's like with the Iraq War under the Bush administration.  I have no beef with us invading Saddam Hussein's little dictatorship, but I have a problem with the fact that we were there for so long.  I don't believe "spreading democracy" is a good strategy, for many cultures are not ready for that kind of government.  Sometimes, dislodging a rabid dictator causes a bad situation, creating a power void that invites groups like the Muslim Brotherhood to step in and grab the reins.

President Donald Trump was a civilian, in a sense, prior to being elected President of the United States.  He, aside from maybe some military school experience, has no familiarity with the armed forces, nor had he worked his way up through the political ranks, which would have afforded him foreign policy exposure.  He was very critical of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, for example.  As I stated earlier, I don't agree with him about the invasion, but I do agree with Trump regarding the "regime change motive" and the lengthy stay in the region.  We have the technology to take out select targets, so why do we even have to put ourselves in a position of having boots on the ground?

I was in the U.S. Navy, and with today's technology from a ship, or a plane, we can pick which window to put a missile through, and accomplish the task with ease.

That said, Syria creates a whole new dilemma since the Russians and Chinese have also got their hand in the cookie jar.

Lindsey Graham, who is normally a war-hawk, especially when it comes to protecting Israel, was initially critical of President Trump's recent decision to withdraw, at least partially, from Syria.  However, he has recently changed his mind, saying, "I feel pretty good" about pulling out of Syria after having lunch with Trump

The decision to pull away from Syria drew criticism from both sides of the aisle, and ultimately led to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Graham emerged from the White House after a two-hour lunch with Trump and said the president "told me some things I didn't know that make me feel a lot better about where we're headed in Syria."

"He promised to destroy ISIS. He's going to keep that promise," Graham said of Trump. "We're not there yet. But as I said today, we're inside the 10-yard line and the president understands the need to finish the job."

Earlier Sunday, Graham called on Trump to reverse his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria in a wide-ranging interview broadcast on CNN's "State of the Union."

"If we leave now, the Kurds are going to get slaughtered," Graham told host Dana Bash, adding that Trump had discussed the matter with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and was "reconsidering how we do this."

"He's frustrated. I get it. People should pay more. They should fight more," Graham said. "But we're not the policemen of the world here. We're fighting a war against ISIS. They're still not defeated in Syria. I'm asking the president to make sure that we have troops there to protect us. Don't outsource our national security to some foreign power. If we leave now, the Kurds are going to get into a fight with Turkey, they could get slaughtered."

Graham echoed that theme outside the White House, telling reporters that the Kurds "stepped up when nobody else would" to fight ISIS.

The last time we turned-tail from Syria was during the Obama administration . . . a move that many consider led to the rapid rise of ISIS.

Everything we're dealing with today falls on Obama's watch," Graham added. "He's the one that withdrew from Iraq."

In the region we have Russian-backed Syrian government forces and in northern Syria U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters, which has definitely put ISIS on the short end of the conflict, though they have yet to be completely eliminated.  That may be something never fully achieved, or at best, way down the timeline.

"The president assured me that he's going to make sure he gets the job done and I assured him that nobody has done more to defeat ISIS than he has," Graham added.

After lunch with the President, Graham tweeted: "I learned a lot from President @realDonaldTrump about our efforts in Syria that was reassuring. The President will make sure any withdrawal from Syria will be done in a fashion to ensure: 1) ISIS is permanently destroyed. 2) Iran doesn’t fill in the back end, and 3) our Kurdish allies are protected.  Lindsey Graham  ✔@LindseyGrahamSC

"President @realDonaldTrump is talking with our commanders and working with our allies to make sure these three objectives are met as we implement the withdrawal," Graham concluded.

In other words, Trump's withdrawal is not a "turn-tail and run" type situation like we saw from Obama.

When Trump first announced his intentions in Syria, he said, "We've been fighting for a long time in Syria.  I've been president for almost two years, and we've really stepped it up. And we've won against ISIS. We've beaten them, and we've beaten them badly. And now it's time for our troops to come back home."

Mattis, who signed orders to pull all American troops out of Syria in the coming weeks, gave his resignation letter to President Trump earlier this month, in which he acknowledged that a strong nation relies on a "comprehensive" network of alliances, and must be "resolute and unambiguous" in approaching countries with strategic differences, citing China and Russia.

"Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position," Mattis wrote.

A senior U.S. defense official told Fox News that Mattis was leaving "in protest over the president's national security policies.”

Trump's preference, while he does believe in a "peace through strength" strategy, seems to be that we are better off when we can bring our boys home.  From his point of view, boots on the ground should only be something that happens as a necessity, but when the main battles have been won, they need to be home.

For the most part, I don't disagree with him, but I am also concerned when we limit our presence.

Time is the ultimate factor here.  In other words, to answer the original question posed regarding pulling out of Syria, "Only time will tell."

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

1 comment:

Dale Day said...

The most important thing that you, like many others, misses is that the president is fulfilling a campaign promise. Something he seems to be doing a whole lot better than all the professional politicians put together.