Patrick J. Buchanan: “Syrian Showdown: Trump vs. the Generals”

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Written by Patrick J. Buchanan; Originally appeared on buchanan.org

With ISIS on the run in Syria, President Trump this week declared that he intends to make good on his promise to bring the troops home.

“I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home,” said the president. We’ve gotten “nothing out of the $7 trillion (spent) in the Middle East in the last 17 years. … So, it’s time.”

Not so fast, Mr. President.

For even as Trump was speaking he was being contradicted by his Centcom commander Gen. Joseph Votel. “A lot of good progress has been made” in Syria, Votel conceded, “but the hard part … is in front of us.”

Moreover, added Votel, when we defeat ISIS, we must stabilize Syria and see to its reconstruction.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had been even more specific:

“It is crucial to our national defense to maintain a military and diplomatic presence in Syria, to help bring an end to that conflict, as they chart a course to achieve a new political future.”

But has not Syria’s “political future” already been charted?

Bashar Assad, backed by Iran and Russia, has won his seven-year civil war. He has retaken the rebel stronghold of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus. He now controls most of the country that we and the Kurds do not.

According to The Washington Post, Defense Secretary James Mattis is also not on board with Trump and “has repeatedly said … that U.S. troops would be staying in Syria for the foreseeable future to guarantee stability and political resolution to the civil war.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who fears a “Shiite corridor” from Tehran to Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut, also opposes Trump. “If you take those (U.S.) troops out from east Syria,” the prince told Time, “you will lose that checkpoint … American troops should stay (in Syria) at least for the mid-term, if not the long-term.”

Bibi Netanyahu also wants us to stay in Syria.

Wednesday, Trump acceded to his generals. He agreed to leave our troops in Syria until ISIS is finished. However, as the 2,000 U.S. troops there are not now engaging ISIS — many of our Kurd allies are going back north to defend border towns threatened by Turkey — this could take a while.

Yet a showdown is coming. And, stated starkly, the divide is this:

Trump sees al-Qaida and ISIS as the real enemy and is prepared to pull all U.S. forces out of Syria as soon as the caliphate is eradicated. And if Assad is in power then, backed by Russia and Iran, so be it.

Trump does not see an Assad-ruled Syria, which has existed since the Nixon presidency, as a great threat to the United States. He is unwilling to spill more American blood to overturn the outcome of a war that Syria, Iran and Russia have already won. Nor is he prepared to foot the bill for the reconstruction of Syria, or for any long-term occupation of that quadrant of Syria that we and our allies now hold.

Once ISIS is defeated, Trump wants out of the war and out of Syria.

The Israelis, Saudis and most of our foreign policy elite, however, vehemently disagree. They want the U.S. to hold onto that slice of Syria east of the Euphrates that we now occupy, and to use the leverage of our troops on Syrian soil to effect the removal of President Assad and the expulsion of the Iranians.

The War Party does not concede Syria is lost. It sees the real battle as dead ahead. It is eager to confront and, if need be, fight Syrians, Iranians and Shiite militias should they cross to the east bank of the Euphrates, as they did weeks ago, when U.S. artillery and air power slaughtered them in the hundreds, Russians included.

If U.S. troops do remain in Syria, the probability is high that Trump, like Presidents Bush and Obama before him, will be ensnared indefinitely in the Forever War of the Middle East.

President Erdogan of Turkey, who has seized Afrin from the Syrian Kurds, is threatening to move on Manbij, where Kurdish troops are backed by U.S. troops. If Erdogan does not back away from his threat, NATO allies could start shooting at one another.

As the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria are both uninvited and unwelcome, a triumphant Assad is likely soon to demand that we remove them from his country.

Will we defy President Assad then, with the possibility U.S. planes and troops could be engaging Syrians, Russians, Iranians and Shiite militias, in a country where we have no right to be?

Trump is being denounced as an isolationist. But what gains have we reaped from 17 years of Middle East wars — from Afghanistan to Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen — to justify all the blood shed and the treasure lost?

And how has our great rival China suffered from not having fought in any of these wars?

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  • Pareggiamoiconti

    Very mindful

  • alejoeisabel

    China is the only country that can invest and rebuild Syria. With a US/China raising tariffs on eachother, China can focus on the Middle East. China exchanges infrastructure for oil and gas. Not interested in ownership of assets of making trading partners loans. Strictly barter. This is what China has done in Africa. China even helps to run the plants.

    • NightTrain

      China is doing more than bartering in Africa. When they can they are replacing African labor with Chinese labor.

  • By “reconstruction”, General Votel means Carpetbagging. Google that term if you don’t know it.

    • HighLord Gaz

      Looting and plundering is always top of the list for warmongers… its how the US has managed to stay on top of the heap for this long.

  • Hrky75

    NATO has this kinky fetish of officially fighting the enemy that doesn’t exist any more: like USSR and Warsaw pact 30 years after they were disbanded or Saddam’s Iraq 10 years after it’s army was destroyed and country crippled by sanctions – all the while unofficially trying to find brand new enemies in order to justify it’s existence – and bns of USD it burns through every year. Latest big NATO thing is “fighting” ISIL in Syria, after it was thoroughly trashed by Syria-Russia-Iran axis and 90% of it’s territory and resources taken over. Only when “ISIL-the-largest-terror-organization-in-history-and-the-biggest-threat-to-world-peace” , for all intents and purposes seized to exist does NATO start “fighting” it. And since it’s virtually impossible to teach a 70-year-old mutt new tricks – they do it by illegally invading Syria – a country that suffered from ISIL terror the most – and trying to provoke SAA and Russia into a brawl. But didn’t they say they were fighting ISIL – you know, big bad terror organization paid for by Saudi money and radicalized by Saudi clerics – and that’s nor according to me, it’s the Clown Prince MbS own admition just a few days ago. So in order to fight ISIL, NATO should team up with Houties and help them lob shit on Riyahd…

    • Barba_Papa

      I think its a little more complex then that. There are multiple things going on here. NATO by itself is like the UN, it can’t do shit without the consent of its members. And these are far from unified. We all know what the US wants, so I’m not going to bother with that. To the US NATO is like a menu card, where it can orde a la carte if it chooses to do so. That’s all it basically is. When it needs NATO they give their European vassals a pat on the back, if not, it just ignores NATO.

      To the Euros NATO is basically a cheap means to get US military protection from the bogeymen in the world, currently Russia again. They know that makes them US vassals, and to a point it chaves, like probably in the case of Germany. But the alternative, spend more money and develop a real military infrastructure independent from NATO via the EU is basically a step too far. So they will placate the US whenever it comes looking to NATO for support, either politically, or token military presence, for whatever crazy scheme of the week it currently has a fancy. Everybody remembers what happened to France and Germany during the Iraq war when they stood up to the US, and no one is willing to suffer the same fate. So they will always go along. Political support from those who are lukewarm, like Germany, and token military assistence in the case of the real brown nosers. Brown nosers come in two shapes these days. East Europeans who would like nothing more then to have the entire US Army encamped near the Russian borders, as they fear the Russian bear. And countries like France, Britain and the Netherlands, whose governments want to lift on the broad shoulders of the US in order to play above their weight internationally. But who do not really feel threatened by the big scary Russian Bear.

      And then there is NATO itself. A group of bureaucrats who are looking for a reason to justify their existence. Like the NATO secretary general. Who likes to huff and puff, but like the UN secretary general is basically a toothless paper tiger, because as I said, the US uses NATO as an a la carte restaurant, where it shops along its members for whatever it needs. And it doesn’t really need the NATO bureaucrats for that.

      • Hrky75

        You are wrong. There’s no “consent of NATO members” – it’s US commands and the rest of NATO falls in line and obeys and usually in contrast to it’s basic military or political interests. Destruction of Libya and Syria and flood of MENA migrants – US orchestrated, NATO executed results in EU crumbling BREXIT (and other announced exits). Antagonizing Russia and goading it into hot conflict – US organized shitshow staged on EU eastern borders that so far caused mutual sanctions that hurt EU more and sharp rise in prices of Russian oil, gas and raw materials – that may end up as a potential thermo nuclear war in the heart of Europe. Now one doesn’t need to be a geopolitical wiz to figure out that few dozen nukes exploding around Europe are in stark contrast to basic interest of all NATO members with the exception of the one or two living an ocean away from ground zero…

      • Merijn

        How many Lies where told to Us in the Netherlands by our Government? Holland is A Very Big Investor in the U.S. do you think they will say No to anything? Britain wants to lift the broad shoulders of the U.S.? I very much doubt that..France send in the Froghunters in Syria to save the last species of the Isis-Frogs…Macroni, May & Merkel and the Skripalski-Fart.. the West is tryin’ to strengthen their Control in any Desperate way possible…How can we Observate & Control our Citizens even More…they are in a dilemma that’s right… Russian or American Gas…

      • HighLord Gaz

        There is a real alternative to EU nations being shameless cucks to Imperial Murikkka…. develop a meaningful relationship with Russia and leverage that to become a full-fledged partner in the coming Eurasian integration.

        Unlike the US with its incessant desire to bind its Euro-peon satraps to Washingtons eternal dominance, the Russians and Chinese don’t care to control Europe, but simply to establish good relations, open trade, and a respect for ones neighbors and their sovereignty. In short, an acceptance of a multi-polar world.

        Eurotrash idiots needs to tell the US to cool their jets and stop formenting crisis, and a good dose of public castigation of US recklessness would go a long way to cutting the legs out from under the US neocon warmongers.

        • Barba_Papa

          Methinks that would just be exchanging one master for another. I respect what Putin is doing in Syria and I don’t believe for one word that he intends to attack any European country, but I don’t think he is anyone’s friend but his own. If he could keep Europe weak and divided that would serve his interests best. Then no threat will come to Russia from that way.

          I’m probably the last of the true Europeans. I believe in the European project. I think the EU superstate can be a good thing. But one that is free of American domination and one that is not beholden and enslaved to the power of big corporations and parasitic banks. A united Europe that finds its own place in the world.

  • Jesus

    Trump is going to have his way, otherwise his generals are going to be fired and forced into retirement.

    • RichardD

      If that was true, a lot more of America First would have been implemented than has been. Including getting out of Afghanistan and Syria. The Jew neocons and their collaborators saw this coming and went on the offensive with legal witch hunts and impeachment proceedings soon after Trump was elected. Coupled with a massive, unprecedented full court press by the lying Jew media vilifying Trump and America first. And Trump has been trying to get this Jew monkey off of his back from the beginning.

      • Jesus

        America first implementation consisted of a good tax cut, to bring corporate money back into the US and give middle class a genuine tax cut, the Obama care has been neutralized, Trump is hitting the Jews where it hurts them most…..Wall Street by raising interest rates and making money more e pensive, and involving US in a trade war with China that is roiling the markets. After all, it was Wall Street that sent American manufacturing to China making US economy mostly a service type economy.
        He told Gary Cohn and Goldman Sachs to get lost, and started to implement the trade war Wall Street did not want.

        The tug of war with the neocons will continue, I believe Trump will prevail against them considering unforeseen circumstances.

        • RichardD

          Most of your post I agree with. Not having domestic metallurgy is a security issue. China has higher tariffs than the US:

          http://threescale.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/GlobalTariff.jpg

        • RichardD

          Gary Cohn, the former head of Jew bank Goldman Sachs, and former chief economic adviser to President Trump, has been replaced by another NYC area Jew:

          “Lawrence Alan Kudlow[1] (born August 20, 1947) is an American conservative television personality and economic commentator who currently serves as Director of the National Economic Council under US President Donald Trump. …

          Kudlow was born and raised in New Jersey, the son of Ruth (née Grodnick) and Irving Howard Kudlow.[2] His family is Jewish. …

          Kudlow was fired from Bear Sterns in the mid-1990s due to his cocaine addiction.”

          – Larry Kudlow –

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Kudlow

          • Jesus

            Kudlow is a Jew as well, if he does not follow Trump’s agenda he will be gone as well.

          • RichardD

            Right now Trump’s agenda is doing what the Jews want on a number of issues. When he gets the Mueller witch hunt and the impeachment proceedings shut down, if he does, we’ll have a better idea of what his agenda really is.

            At this time he’s ignoring the baby rapers crimes against the Palestinians and Syria. And saber rattling over false flag fabrications as a pretext for possible military escalation. That doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence for his commitment to America First priorities like stopping the overseas military adventures.

            “Israeli minister for military affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, said there were “no innocent people” in Gaza”

            – ICC calls on Israel to end deadly violence in besieged Gaza Strip –

            http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/04/08/557858/Gaza-ICC-Israel

    • palebluedot

      I’d never let Obama off the hook. For Libya or Syria (or Ukraine). He was the CIC, he made the calls to arm, finance, and direct jihadis against both sovereign nations. I voted for the SOB, twice, and I’ll never forgive him for what he did.

  • Ivan Freely

    Wouldn’t contradicting the Commander-in-Chief publicly be grounds for insubordination?

    • Barba_Papa

      They have political double speak like ‘he didn’t mean it like that’ or ‘the President and I are in full agreement’ for that. If the contradictory statements keep on going, only then does it become an issue. And we get to see who the real power in the cabinet is.

  • RichardD

    I listened to the Trump news conference. And his Syria withdrawal was a two stage deal. Stage 1 was what to do, which is get out. Stage 2 is how to do it, which is get everybody else to agree with that. Good luck with that, easier said then done. Which is why the prospects for any type of withdrawal anytime soon aren’t very high. The US and it’s coalition partners have done nothing for months about Isis. When the largest remaining pocket of Isis in south east Syria that they could do anything about, has been left untouched.

    Trump is scared of the Jews, like the NRA is scarred of the Jew’s big pharma cash cow pumping prescription psychotropics into society in massive quantities to keep the mass shootings going to use these preventable tragedies to take away our gun rights. And all that the NRA does is talk about fixing our broken mental health care system. When they know that the real problem is big pharma pusher shrinks writing scripts for psycho shooter drugs with predictable results.

    The problem isn’t mentally ill people, there were plenty of them before these CIA mind control drugs were revamped and legalized for “mental health” use. Before these dangerous drugs were legalized the mentally ill rarely went on mass shootings. Because most of them are sick, not criminally insane. It’s the drugs that cause people to do things that they wouldn’t do if they weren’t using them. The government is well aware of that. Which is why you can’t get or keep a commercial driver’s license in the US if you’ve used these drugs or they’re found during a drug test. The German pilot on these drugs killed more people in one plane crash than any mass shooting in US history.

    • RichardD

      “The whole enterprise was assigned the code-name MK-ULTRA and was run out of the CIA’s Technical Services Division … In the division’s laboratories and workshops researchers labored on poisons, gadgets designed to maim and kill, techniques of torture and implements to carry such techniques to agonizing fruition. …

      Within Technical Services MK-ULTRA projects came under the control of the Chemical Division, headed from 1951 to 1956 by Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, a New York Jew who received his doctorate in chemistry from California Tech. …

      the CIA helped underwrite Eli Lilly’s efforts to produce synthetic LSD. Lilly, the Indianapolis-based drug company, succeeded in this endeavor in 1954. Gottlieb hailed this triumph as a key breakthrough that would enable the CIA to buy the drug “in tonnage quantities.” Such large amounts were not of course required for interrogation: Gottlieb’s aim was instead to have the ability to incapacitate large populations and armies.”

      – The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb –

      https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/17/the-cias-house-of-horrors-the-abominable-dr-gottlieb/

  • RichardD

    The problem is Israel and US Jews and their collaborators. Which includes the swamp and a lot of the military brass. The solution to the problem is outlawing Judaism and dejudifing the planet to create a Jew free world that will be much better for humanity.

  • Bob

    “A lot of good progress has been made” in Syria, [General] Votel conceded, “but the hard part … is in front of us.”

    That sounds familiar – a lot like [General] Westmoreland’s repeated statements over South Vietnam.

  • HighLord Gaz

    Muricans are stupid militarists… the orcs of the real world…. they will never learn, and they will continue to make the same stupid mistakes…

    Syria will be the Empires graveyard… good riddance to stinking seppo trash.