It was said that electing Donald Trump would split conservatives, and so it has: the neo-conservatives, who championed foreign intervention and forward defense, but were mostly liberal on social and cultural issues, have now gone full Democrat — see: Max Boot, Jennifer Rubin and Bill Kristol — because President Trump is doing what he said he would do as far as cutting back on foreign interventionism.
The Kurds, whose help has been vital, were betrayed not by President Trump, but by both Presidents Bush, the elder having stood by while Saddam Hussein’s forces tried to kill them all off when he managed to survive following the first Iraq war, and the younger by not forcing an independent Kurdistan following the second Iraq war.
What the neo-cons, along with the Democrats, are whining about is that we are stepping away from an open-ended commitment, one that would have kept us in Syria for the foreseeable future. If the raison d’être for being in Syria following the rout of Da’ish was that the scumbags might return, then we could never leave, because the possibility of Da’ish’s return would never end. The fact that it was President Trump who ordered the withdrawal, well that was enough to draw the opposition of the Democrats, who would otherwise have decried this military deployment, even though it was ordered by President Obama, not Mr Trump.
And now we’re seeing an uproar because Mr Trump is considering withdrawing half of the 14,000 troops we have in Afghanistan. The obvious question is: if, after seventeen years in Afghanistan we haven’t managed to win the war, just what do the neo-cons et al think we are going to do with 14,000 troops versus 7,000?
President Trump is learning what the Soviets did in the 1980s, and the British a century ago, that Afghanistan is ungovernable by foreigners. Realistically, it is ungovernable by Afghanis, because their loyalties are tribal rather than national. We aren’t really spending our blood there anymore, but we are squandering vast amounts of treasure there, and for what, to defend Afghan commanders who rape boys?
The younger President Bush erred, taking to heart Natan Sharansky’s book, The Case for Democracy, in which the author postulated that once people had experience with democracy, they would want to continue with it, ignoring the fact that the cultures in the Middle East simply aren’t Western.
So, what do we have? Iraq is still a mess, though not quite as bad as it was, Afghanistan is a hellhole, which it has always been and always will be, and Syria, even if Bashir al-Assad finally wins his civil war, will be so broke and so devastated that it won’t be a menace to anyone, beyond its harboring of other groups.
The philosophy of the neoconservatives always sounded good, but when put in action has failed the test of reality.