I’ve been hard on President Trump recently. He’s deserved it. But, his decision to announce without any prearranged warning a complete pullout of all U.S. forces in Syria is something I can unreservedly applaud.
Whether he actually goes through with it or not is another story.
But even just his tweaking the D.C. establishment on this issue is enough for at least a golf clap. Nothing unites D.C. like the start of a new war or the threat of ending an old one.
And apparently Trump blind-sided nearly everyone on this. From the our NATO allies like France and the U.K. to his outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all of them found out when Trump took the bully pulpit and informed the world.
This is the guy we elected. This is Loki-like behavior, not the weak-kneed appeaser that we’ve seen since Helsinki, tweeting like a madman trapped in a cage of his own making.
So, keep doing this Don and you might earn some trust.
The reality is that Turkey and Russia now set the terms of what’s happening in Syria going forward. Trump just acknowledged the U.S.’s untenable policy there is over.
In my latest piece for Strategic Culture, written before Trump’s Syria announcement, I talk about this weekend’s events leading up to Trump’s surprise announcement.
If these things weren’t enough Turkish Prime Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said recently that Ankara was now willing to work with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if he survives “democratic and credible” elections. This is rich coming from Turkey, but whatever.
The importance of this statement, however, cannot be overstated. Turkey was one of the major partners in the mission to destroy Syria. And now they have joined with Russia, Iran and China in negotiating the peace process.
They have gone from “Assad must go!” to “Assad can stay.” It is an admission that the US plan for balkanization of Syria will eventually fail and that their best bet is putting maximum pressure on the US to give up its regional plans.
Russia, of course, stands behind Turkey in this and themselves are now upping the costs on the US and the Israelis. Because, it is now Russian policy to assist Syrian Arab Army forces in proportional retaliation against Israeli aggression in Syrian territory, according to Elijah Magnier.
No longer will the Russians stand aside and allow Israel a free hand over bombing what it says are Hezbollah and Iranian targets within Syria. The SAA will now strike back with a proportional response.
An airport for an airport, as it were.
Trump just admitted that the Bolton/Dunford strategy of balkanizing Syria has failed and he’s done subsidizing it. Hopefully, this will lead to something better and a more coherent strategy to rescue U.S. foreign policy from the cesspit of neoconservativism Trump still deserves heaps of scorn for allowing to rule his administration.
But for now, I’m taking a ‘wait and see’ approach. So too, is Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump had to put something concrete on the table.
I’ve always said that there will be no resolution to the situation in Syria until the U.S. takes responsibility for some of its actions there and makes a move towards de-escalating it.
The U.S. had to act first. So, declare victory and get out of there.
Trump’s track record of threatening, sanctioning, insulting and bullying has put him in a very bad place to negotiate the U.S.’s withdrawal from Central Asia. There is no reason why anyone should sign an agreement with him or believe a word that comes out of his mouth or that of his staff.
So, the two years he’s been in office have seen an administration with few cards to play throw them down on the table for all the world to see and still try to bluff their way to winning the pot.
It’s all so unbelievably amateurish and sad.
The best move here is to stop the bleeding, end the destruction of what’s left of U.S. foreign policy credibility and bring the troops home before the next financial crisis leaves them even more vulnerable than they were before.
I’ve always argued that we wouldn’t have WWIII with the Russians over Syria or Ukraine unless a massive mistake was made. Trump’s staff maneuvered him into a position where the probabilities of that mistake happening rose to an unacceptable level which culminated in the downing of that IL-20 reconnaissance plane over Syria.
Putin took control of the situation there and Erdogan used the gift handed to him by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman perfectly. Now, Trump is talking about handing over Cleric Fetullah Gulen as well as a Syria withdrawal.
On this point I agree with Bernard at Moon of Alabama that Trump decided to choose keeping Turkey in NATO rather than allowing it to jump to the alliance of China, Russia and Iran formally.
And it looks like he finally had enough of trying to appease his generals who have been bleeding him dry since he took office.