Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

The Faux Outcry Over President Trump’s Syria Decision – Original

Posted by M. C. on October 22, 2019

The recent Washington Post op-ed by Senator Mitch McConnell, “Withdrawing from Syria is a Grave Mistake,” is very disappointing. Rather than acknowledging and taking responsibility for the blunders U.S. foreign and military policy over the last 30 years, Senator McConnell and 69 other senators want the US to continue doing what has proven to be disastrous to world peace and US national security.

Having served two years in Iraq and six years in Afghanistan as a field-level civilian advisor, I witnessed daily the death, destruction and hardships these two Wars of Choice inflicted on the local populations. The aftereffects of these wars continue to this day. The current Congressional and media outrage over the plight of the Kurds in eastern Syria pales in comparison to the ongoing humanitarian tragedies that Washington’s intervention foreign policy caused in these two countries — not to mention Libya, Syria and elsewhere under Congress’ open-ended War on Terror. There was no significant Congressional or mainstream media outrage or resolutions of disapproval when tens of thousands of civilians were being killed as a result of US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. I don’t recall any Congressional leader writing an op-ed titled, “Invading Iraq in 2003 was a Grave Mistake?”

That said, the deceit inherent in Senator McConnell’s op-ed is more alarming than its hypocrisy. He uses counterfactual claims to justify and support the Washington establishment’s interventionist foreign policy that he champions as Senate Majority Leader.

In his op-ed, Senator McConnell repeats the neocon canard that President Obama is responsible for the creation of ISIS because of “his reckless withdrawal [of US troops] from Iraq” in 2011. This assertion is just as erroneous as the charge that ISIS will “regroup” and ” bring terror to our shores” now that US troops have left Syria. (ISIS itself has never conducted a terrorist attack in America.) This contrived construct is needed to support Senator McConnell’s and the neocon community’s worldview that US militarism abroad conducted under the guise of “no substitute for American leadership” advances peace and security in the world. With the corollary being, the withdrawal of US of troops from civil wars that this US itself created (in the case of Iraq) or aided and abated (in the case of Syria) represents America returning to “the comforting blanket of isolationism in the 1940s. With over 800 foreign military installations around the world and ongoing combat operations in 80 countries, President Trump’s decision to relocate 1,000 US soldiers from eastern Syria to western Iraq hardly represents a return to America’s pre-World War II noninterventionist foreign policy.

I was in Iraq when Grand Ayatollah Sistani in Najaf, Iraq’s most influential Shi’a cleric and the most authoritative voice in the country, pronounced publicly in July 2008 his opposition to the proposed Status of Forces Agreement and US soldiers remaining in Iraq. I was glad I had lined up a job in Afghanistan because I knew with Ayatollah Sistani’s pronouncement, “the fat lady had sung.” There was no chance of US troops staying in Iraq beyond the December 2011 date agreed to by the Iraqi Parliament and the Bush Administration. Had Ayatollah Sistani’s decree been disobeyed, it would have started a Holy War with Shi’a Iran intervening to supports Iraq’s Shi’ite majority in an epic battle to drive the infidels out of the Shi’ite part of Dar al-Islam (the Muslim homelands created in the 7th and 8th centuries).

It’s neocon folklore that President Obama could have extended the withdrawal date if only he tried harder to do so

That said, Senator McConnell is correct in saying the president’s action “have set back the United States’ campaign against the Islamic State and other terrorists.” So what? All the local and regional actors who will “fill the vacuum” (favorite neocon expression) created by the US pulling out of Syria – the legitimate Syrian Assad government in Damascus, Turkey, Iran, Russia, and both Iraqi and Syrian Kurds – are more committed and capable of fighting and defeating ISIS and (other Sunni jihadi terrorists) than the US military. (Being able to speak Arabic – as all Muslims learn to read the Koran – is instrumental for being effective and respected in this part of the world.) These local actors all have skin the game. They will fight the Sunni jihadi terrorists for their own reasons – as Iran showed in its defeat of ISIS in Iraq. Contrarily, deploying US military personnel to fight in this region’s centuries-old ethnic, religious and territorial disputes is counterproductive. As I witnessed over my eight years in war zones, US soldiers are perceived as intruders and infidels in the Islamic World. This fact makes the US military’s presence in the Middle East inherently destabilizing.

As President Trump noted, America is over 7,000 miles away from the Middle East. The US no longer relies on Middle East oil. As FBI Director Christopher Wray recently reported, more Americans are currently killed each year by homegrown white supremacists than foreign jihadi terrorism. Where is the Congressional outcry and op-eds against this more lethal form terrorism within our shores?

Be seeing you




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