America woke up this morning to the news that President Trump, in consultation with President Erdogan of Turkey, has decided to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria. The process has already begun—both ways. As U.S. forces withdraw, Turkish forces are moving in to occupy the battlespace.
Because this was President Trump’s decision, predictably there was an immediate uproar, not only from the usual suspects employed by left-wing news outlets, but also never-Trump voices using FOX news as their platform. Note the strident tone of these excerpts from FOX.
And while news of the U.S. pullout stunned Syrian Kurds, the announcement also “completely blindsided” top brass at the Pentagon, U.S. officials told Fox News.
Aside from the existential threat to the Kurdish fighters posed by Turkey, Syrian Kurdish forces are also warning that ISIS sleeper cells are actively plotting to free about 12,000 militants currently detained by the Kurds and may take advantage of the Turkey-triggered turmoil to aid their plans.
Attempting to again promote the idea that President Trump doesn’t “listen to his experts,” in another article FOX says
President Trump first made waves on the issue in December 2018, when he abruptly announced the U.S. would completely pull its troops from Syria, tweeting that the mission to defeat ISIS was completed. The move prompted the resignation of then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and a coordinated campaign by then-National Security Adviser John Bolton to try to protect the Kurds, America’s fighting partner in the region.
Some of these points are valid and there are a number of serious risks attendant to this decision. However, in order to separate the political chaff from the actual data required for a sound National Security decision, we need to go back to the beginning of this entire imbroglio — Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s alleged decision to employ chemical weapons against an ongoing insurgency in his country. President Obama believed he needed to make some sort of statement because of the (at the time) unverified information regarding this use of chemical weapons. Obama drew his “Red Line,” (in)famously stating.
We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.
At that same time, insurgents known as Islamic State of Iraq & Syria/ Islamic State Of Iraq & the Levant (ISIS/ISIL) were operating in parts of Iraq and Syria, causing significant headaches to Iraqi and Iraqi Kurd forces. President Obama, likely egged on by National Security Advisor, Susan Rice and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, both “Responsibility to Protect” adherents, began operations in Syria against ISIS/ISIL forces using that flawed doctrine as an excuse.
Under orders from President Obama, U.S. manned aircraft and drones (likely along with “National Technical Means”) began surveillance of ISIS/ISIL occupied areas in Syria in September of 2014. Later that same month, a coalition of Arab Air Forces led by the United States, began attacking ISIS/ISILpositions inside Syria, a clear violation of International Convention and U.S. Law.
As I noted in an article back then, if a U.S. Pilot had been shot down by a Russian aircraft, the Russians would have been correct under International Convention, as they had been invited in by the lawful sovereign in Syria, President Bashar Al Assad. What is worse, in 2016 the (then) newly assigned Commander of U.S. Central Command took a clandestine trip into Syria to confer with U.S. Forces on the ground there. Although sharing risks with troops on the ground is of course a stellar leadership technique, imagine the damage to U.S. prestige had he been captured or killed there…not to mention, he is a personal friend of mine.
Then there is the fundamental question—U.S. troops in Syria? By what authority other than a Presidential Order are they there? Had Congress declared War? Had they even passed a Use Of Force Resolution? What rationale, other than the long-discredited “Responsibility To Protect” doctrine, espoused by One World Order acolyte Samantha Power? Power, as a little light reading will show, is one of the architects of the Obama-directed decline of U.S. international power and prestige. As time went on, it appeared that dealing with ISIS/ISIL became an excuse to engage in that (now thankfully abandoned) doctrine, in Syria.
This is the main issue. This is the reason the then-candidate, now-President Trump, made it a campaign promise and administration priority to get U.S. troops out of wars we didn’t belong in. All the wailing and gnashing of teeth about this being a surprise, an unexpected decision that somehow “blindsided” senior Department of Defense officials, is just so much drek. That line is merely an excuse for Obama holdovers and deep state operatives who have been slow walking Trump policies and decisions—policies and decisions that have been known to them since the beginning of his post-election transition.
These people need to get it through their heads just who the duly elected Commander In Chief is. If they cannot execute his policies and directives with alacrity and effectiveness, they should exhibit the character of General Mattis…and resign…quietly.
Tomorrow, Part II: Not All Kurds Are Our Friends
Mike Ford, a retired Infantry Officer, writes on Military, Foreign Affairs and occasionally dabbles in Political and Economic matters.
Follow him on Twitter: @MikeFor10394583
You can find his other Red State work here.