Senior Pentagon Analyst Separates from Some Trump Supporters Asks: 'Why Should the U.S. Remain in the Syria War'
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Oct. 18, 2019
MEDIA ADVISORY, Oct. 18, 2019 /Christian Newswire/ -- Lieutenant Colonel Robert L. Maginnis (U.S. Army, Retired) submits the following and is available for comment:
Listen to the mass media, some of the political class and too many of our political generals (active and retired) and you'll hear why they want our sons, daughters and treasure to remain in Syria. They are all mistaken.
The common rationale heard today for staying in Syria include:
1. The Islamic State (ISIS) will re-emerge.
2. We are abandoning an ally – the Syrian Kurds.
3. Abandoning the Kurds will hurt us strategically around the world.
4. Turkish forces will commit genocide.
5. Turkey has no legitimate claim against the Syrian Kurds.
6. Staying in Syria is in our national interest.
7. Pulling out of Syria will aid dictator Bashar al-Assad.
8. Pulling out will destabilize the region.
What's really at stake for the United States and these critics? Lots of ego among the Washington elite. The neocon politicians clamor for attention to be first to support the gullible, uninformed public. The media-class are an inch deep and a mile wide on emotions thanks to horrible images coming from yet another war front and too many of our generals with their reputations on the line want to keep pouring more American taxpayer dollars and our blood into a Mideast black hole.
Consider each of the often repeated reasons for remaining in the Syrian war and their pragmatic counters.
1. The Islamic State (ISIS) will re-emerge. That's possible but does it really matter? Our homeland security is much better today than a few years ago. Besides the problem of a re-emergent ISIS is mostly of the making of those in the Mideast and their neighbors to the north in Europe. As an aside, Europeans tend to shy away from taking responsibility for anything and even their own citizens who rushed to Syria to fight. Also, few ISIS fighters are Americans and besides we won't let them return home to commit atrocities. Further ISIS has already morphed elsewhere – Africa, Asia, and Europe – and American forces are already engaged against these terrorists in those areas. Finally, if ISIS killers escape Syrian jails we can count on the Iranians, Turks or Russians to deal with them far more harshly than did our troops or the Kurds.
2. We are abandoning an ally – the Syrian Kurds. President Barack Obama supported President George W. Bush's misguided invasion of Iraq that eventually led to the creation of ISIS. We never should have gone into Iraq. Back track a bit to appreciate that before Bush's invasion Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein controlled with an iron fist the tribal, ethnic and religious differences among his disparate population. However, Bush's 2004 war unleashed those differences to create an insurgency and then Obama abandoned that fight in 2011 to contribute to the rise of ISIS. Along came President Trump who allowed his generals to send troops back to the region - both Iraq and Syria - to destroy ISIS and give regional powers like the Kurds time to get a handle on the explosive caliphate. American troops trained, equipped, paid and gave years to the Kurds to prepare for our eventual departure. Last year President Trump announced to the world his intention to withdraw our forces and that is now happening. We remain in the region with significant forces to assist the Kurds as necessary and meanwhile we are economically pressuring the Turks to limit their ambitions in Syria.
3. Abandoning the Kurds will hurt us strategically around the world. Name a single ally or foreign partner that won't trust us now because we left the Syrian battlefield. You can't. This isn't a new claim. Dip back into history to recall that we "abandoned" the South Vietnamese in 1975 and in the end it didn't matter. Not a single ally or major foreign partner ran away from the United States because we "abandoned" Vietnam. Not one!
4. Turkish forces will commit genocide. Any true atrocities are unlikely to be done at the hand of the Turkish army - it's mostly a professional force - but Syrian militia might commit abuses as we've seen time and again across that war-torn country.
5. Turkey has no legitimate claim against the Syrian Kurds. Don't forget that Turkey shares a 511 mile common border with Syria. The Syrian Kurdish terror group, People's Protection Units (YPG) aligns with Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Marxist terror group that seeks an independent Kurdish state within Turkey. Also, there is a Turkish issue that most Americans can appreciate. Turkey has a massive illegal immigrant problem, that is, Turkey has long paid a high price for caring for many millions of Syrian – read illegal aliens – war refugees. Ankara wants these people to go home to Syria and it wants no part of the Syrian Kurdish terrorists' desire to carve out a new country inside Turkey.
6. Staying in Turkey is in our national interest. Not sure what that can be. It's not oil. We have plenty of oil thanks to our sound drilling policy which protects our economy from Mideast instability related oil price fluctuations. Perhaps our interests in Syria are related to protecting our good democrat ally Israel. Not true. Jerusalem seems to be doing just fine. So, just what are those critical national interests that warrant keeping troops in Syria? I suspect "our interests" are really our sensibilities. We don't like seeing the inevitable ravages of war broadcast into our living rooms. If that's the case then we ought to also send our overburdened troops to help other people dealing with similar problems across this troubled globe. Unfortunately sending more troops to the numerous other global hotspots will eventually exhaust our volunteer military and our treasury, which isn't in our national interest.
7. Pulling out of Syria will aid dictator Bashar al-Assad: Russia and Iran already helped Assad win his long-in-the-tooth civil war. It is noteworthy that years ago the Syrian Kurds struck a deal to sell almost $400 million a year in oil to Damascus. Evidently they understand how to work with Assad but couldn't seem to work with Turkey. Now, and not surprisingly, we hear that the Kurds are rejoining Assad to seek help against Turkey.
8. Pulling out will destabilize the region: The region is already a tinder box of instability and in part because we keep fueling wars across the Mideast. Now we are upping the ante with more troops to Saudi Arabia. Go figure!
Like a lot of Americans I'm tired of seeing the wringing of hands and crocodile tears over President Trump's decision to exit Syria. What's at stake? Mostly big egos, reputations and media ratings. The people who really count in this decision are those with skin in the game and from them you'll hear a very different story.
Why not juxtapose Syrian battle scenes with clips of families standing on the tarmac at Dover Air Force Base to "welcome" their loved ones returning home in flag-draped coffins? How many of those who say we need to remain in Syria or in other questionable foreign wars have skin in the game? Dare say very few!
Remember, there are at least 55 ongoing "wars" across the world today and many of the adversaries in those "wars" on either side would welcome American troops because we bring aid. However, few of those wars involve direct U.S. national interests but the Syria hawks and their neocon friends could care less.
Of course no sane person likes to see fighting and dying anywhere to include Syria. Unfortunately that's been the history of mankind and it's not likely to change no matter how many of the lives of our young people and treasure we invest in others' fights.
The best outcome for America is to avoid unnecessary overseas wars while focusing our political class on fixing what's wrong with this country. We have serious problems: failing infrastructure, explosive medical costs, and a serious illegal immigration problem to name a few. Also, it's past time the media commentators focus on journalism rather than sensationalism fanned by their big egos seeking higher ratings. And get the television generals with a history of bad decisions to stop pushing us into failed conflicts.
Yes, it is past time to exit needless wars like Syria and focus our military on our legitimate national interests, especially the long overdue demand to prepare for future big fights, such as sobering threats posed by the incredibly dangerous, rising Chinese military and to a lesser extent Vladimir Putin's new muscular Russia.
Lieutenant Colonel Robert "Bob" Maginnis (U.S. Army, Retired) graduated from the U.S. Military Academy, the Naval Postgraduate School and instructs a course at the Army War College. He supervises a team of national security experts at the Pentagon and is a broadcast national security analyst for a number of media outlets and the author of numerous books to include Progressive Evil (2019) and Alliance of Evil (2018).
TO BOOK LT. COL. ROBERT MAGINNIS, CONTACT: Thomas Horn, 417-723-0610, RaidersNewsUpdate@gmail.com
SOURCE Defender Publishing