Trump Greenlights Turkish Invasion of Northern Syria


Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website

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258 Responses

  1. Avatar InMD says:

    Yea yea ’empowering people who hate us’, no matter how many times you say it a sound policy alternative it doesn’t make.

    Simple questions: why is it our business who controls any part of Syrian territory? Please note that the awfulness of Erdogan and/or Putin is irrelevant.

    Do you believe it is in the interest of the United States to risk lives and deficit spend to defend an ethnic minority spread accross multiple dysfunctional states with no real hope of ever controlling a country of its own?

    If the answer to those questions are yes then defend it on the merits. If the answer to them is no then what is the point of this post?Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

      If there was some principle involved aside from “what pleases Donald Trump at this very moment”, you would have a case.

      This wasn’t done out of any sincere idea of what is in America’s best interest. It is entirely an abuse of office, done on a whim because somehow Trump gets a personal benefit out of it.


      • Avatar InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        Of course it isn’t principled but American foreign policy rarely is. The question I am asking is what the OP believes the right thing to do is.

        Speaking of which, what do you believe the right thing is with respect to Syria? Is it full scale invasion? Is it a real live shooting war with Russia and/or our wayward NATO ally? Something else?Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

          I don’t have a good idea of what to do about Syria.
          But I know the best possible outcome for America and the world would be to use American power and leverage to firm an alliance of nations that use a mix of carrots and sticks to minimize the damage and protect our interests.

          Trump has no interest or ability to do this.

          In true sociopath fashion, all human lives aside from his are irrelevant objects to be used for his own gratification.Report

          • Avatar InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            I mean ok, but… what interests?And what about where there is no such alliance of nations available?

            The refrain that we have some interest in Syria is itself serious question begging. Everyone assumes we have them but can’t actually list anything, other than some vague references to Russian and/or Iranian influence… in a place where they already had lots of influence before the war.

            I know it’s hard but I think the only productive way to look at this is pretend Trump is not the president.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

              America has an interest in a stable and peaceful Mideast, and an interest in forming an alliance of nations, like the EU, that can advance a form of liberal democracy where possible.

              Russian and Iranian alliance with the Assad regime strengthens the hand of of autocracy.
              I know that isolationism seems attractive, but its no longer possible in a globalized economy. We are intensely bound up in the workings of other nations, and have to take some sort of affirmative stance.

              Again, America doesn’t have a lot of good options, but right now we are choosing the worst ones, for the worst reasons.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                This is pie in the sky platitudes. It also defines ‘peaceful’in such a way that peace only can exist where it is fully on the terms of the United States. Which is ironic when you consider that our biggest export to the region is war and instability.

                It also isn’t isolationism to acknowledge facts on the ground (for the record, I am not an isolationist).

                There is no force for liberal democracy in Syria anymore than there was in Baathist Iraq or the ethnocracy we replaced it with. The entire perspective you’re voicing here is based on wishful thinking for people and movements that don’t actually exist. Despite what the MSM and entrenched forces in our government believe, that is not a recipe for peace, but it will feed the flames of endless war.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Do any options include supporting Nato Ally Turkey against Kurdish separatists that are destabilizing Iraq, Syria and Turkey (and Iran)? Are Kurds really “allies” or just a faction we temporarily aligned with? What is the “best” path for the Kurds?

                Would Turkey be a better foil for Russia/Syria? Has Turkey recently shot down a Russian Plane? And if you are worried about Iranian influence, Turkey is your best bet (better than the paper tiger in Saudi Arabia)…

                So please… which geo-political actors are you looking to balance?

                If we wanted to stick with a simple narrative that Trump – per usual – is executing whatever strategy he thinks he’s executing in the worst possible way… then fine.

                But, there’s no way we need to sign-up for Nation Building for the Kurds and/or Syrian regime Change.

                In fact… I’d suggest for our consideration that the Pentagon’s quiet refusal to withdraw from Syria in a well managed and orderly way is perhaps the unintended consequence we didn’t see… to busy many were for patting themselves on the back for *not* making solid plans to exit Syria.

                [of course, maybe no troops will leave this time either… but even then, the mixed messages and mismanagement are then shared by the Pentagon well exceeding its authority]Report

              • Avatar Mr.Joe in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Democracies do not have a great track record in that part of the world. Egypt, one of the more modern and secular nations, lasted less than 2 years before the elected leadership was overthrown and functional dictatorship was restored. For all the hoopla about how the Arab Spring was going to usher in a new era of Democracy in the region, it established exactly 0 successful Democracies.

                Every nation in the region is maintained by many deaths and threats of many more. If I was looking to establish a stable nation in the area, fully Democratic would be way down on the list.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to InMD says:

      Turkey is not going to do anything to ISIS. If anything, this empowers ISIS which creates even more of a humanitarian disaster which will create more refugees. But everyone knows that the U.S. welcomes refugees all the time so it is no big deal.

      Oh wait…..Report

      • Avatar InMD in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Of course they aren’t but who the hell cares about ISIS? They’ve effectively been defeated by Assad and the Russians. If anything our support for Islamist Gulf-backed militias and phantom ‘moderates’ prolonged that fight.

        If we really wanted to stop ISIS and the refugee crisis, the least bad choice would probably be supporting factions like Turkey and the Assad government, distasteful as they are, that actually have a chance of stabilizing the situation. Instead we did what we always do. Arm insane people and put our finger on the scale in favor of chaos.

        So same question. What is the right thing? Do you favor invasion? Overthrow of one or more involved governments? No need for actual battle plans but what’s the desired outcome and basic strategy to get there?Report

      • Avatar Mr.Joe in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I have my doubts that Turkey will be very friendly to ISIS. They tried to take land and establish a state that did not recognize Erdogan’s right to rule. Further, they had considerable success, for awhile. There is little upside to Turkey in allowing ISIS to reconstitute in any meaningful fashion.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    There have been too many times in the recent past where the best case of what happens if we intervene is put up against the worst case of what we don’t as an argument for why we have to intervene… and then, when we intervene, we get a very bad case of what happens when we intervene.

    I understand the appeal of the best case of intervention in Syria.

    I just don’t understand why what’s likely to happen is worth pouring blood and treasure into the desert.

    Why are we still in Afghanistan? Why are we still in Iraq? What the hell are we doing? We don’t have answers to those questions. I don’t have an answer to the question of “what does victory look like?” for those places.

    What does victory look like for Syria? How long would we be likely to stay there?

    Why in the hell is this our jurisdiction?Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:


      Here is a video of a baby girl. And a caption that assures you this baby girl is in Syria, and will in fact be murdered horribly if we don’t do something.


      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DensityDuck says:

        Every time NPR has one of those stories, I change the channel. It’s a pointless plea for American action that will never materialize unless John Bolton becomes president, and if he does, then NPR will tell me a daily story about how Bolton’s foreign policy in that area is killing baby girls.

        As much as I have empathy for those people, we can not save everyone directly unless we are willing to take over the Mid East and implement regime change in every hot spot.Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird says:

      RE: Why are we still in Afghanistan?
      911. Al Qaeda showed we didn’t have a choice but to go and kill them, so we did, and we’ll be there a while. That’s fine, Obama showed what is possible on a tiny budget, 100 years of staying there beats one 911.

      RE: Why are we still in Iraq?
      Ideally we’d be doing what we did for Japan. This would be a minimum of 50 years to stand up a country, make them functional, and with their example the rest of the middle east would need to up their game.

      The problem is Bush dropped the ball several times and made it much more expensive than it needed to be, then Obama took the ball home and things fell apart.

      What it comes down to with both of these is it’s more expensive for us to leave than it is to stay.

      For Syria… that’s probably not the case since Russia/Turkey are there.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Dark Matter says:

        “deally we’d be doing what we did for Japan. This would be a minimum of 50 years to stand up a country, make them functional, and with their example the rest of the middle east would need to up their game.”

        Last I heard, it was far, far less than 50 years.Report

  3. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Trump is supporting a tin-port dictator. Who would have thought? Senators Graham and Rubio are having sads but hedging their tweets with statements like “if media reports are accurate…..”

    And I can expect who will spin this for Trump because it owns the libs or who will try and play armchair pundit and discuss how Trump can spin this to victory because it owns the libs.Report

  4. Avatar JoeSal says:

    It’s kind of weird, we are really, really concerned about Syria yet, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua are pretty much steady state cricket chirping.

    If we are going to be in the “DO SOMETHING!!!!!!” business, maybe we start a little closer to home.Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to JoeSal says:

      Or, we could, you know, let these people sort out their differences on their own. Crazy talk, I get it. But looking to recent history it seems our money would be better spent on anything, up to, and including, literally throwing it out of helicopters into the streets of any city in America.Report

      • Avatar JoeSal in reply to InMD says:

        I agree and would hope we could mind our own business. I don’t think we have enough people with that sentiment though, so we have to deal with the DO SOMETHINGers. If we have to deal with the DO SOMETHINGers, then maybe do something closer to home.

        But that isn’t going to happen as the political outrage machine is probably a few dozen MSM people strung out on the twitters.Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to JoeSal says:

          I often think we have bar none the worst foreign affairs press corp on the planet. All they’re capable of is knee jerk emotionalism, and as best as I can tell have no subject matter expertise on the subjects they cover whatsoever. In my darkest moments I suspect similar things are true about our intelligence services, the state department, and, frankly, the DOD.

          You’d think the people that have been around for awhile would have some recollection of events they themselves covered/were involved in, but apparently that is too much to ask.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal in reply to InMD says:

            Your a better angel than I am, it doesn’t happen in my darkest moments.

            People may think it is a long walk to get to anarchy, I just asked a simple question each day:

            Is this better than anarchy?

            I haven’t had a yes day since.Report

  5. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    The question has always been when the US would abandon the Kurds — and that’s what this is — rather than if they would abandon them. The Kurdish goal is explicitly Kurdistan, made up of contiguous pieces carved out of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. At some point the US was going to walk rather than defend that goal.Report

    • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Michael Cain says:

      Do you see the Kurd territories as a speed bump, or a mini Afghanistan?Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Michael Cain says:

      I mean, the end game of Kurd defenders is a second Israel. And the question is, how bad do we want to piss off Turkey to create a second Israel?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

        Yeah, establishing a Kurdistan is, pretty much, the only thing that will both protect the Kurds while, at the same time, let us not have to maintain a presence there indefinitely/forever.

        Is Kurdistan possible?Report

        • Avatar Mr.Joe in reply to Jaybird says:

          I am not well versed enough to say any of this with something resembling certainty. It would seem possible if there was half the support there was to create the state of Israel. Two big issues with Isreal don’t seem to present in the Kurdistan case. Specifically, large displacements of current populations and influx of folks from the rest of the world. Second, there does not seem to be as deep animosity between Kurds and their neighbors that there is between Muslims and Jews. At best, I expect there to be bloodshed and multi-generational anger. At worst, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria just gang up on the fledgling nation, curb stomp it, and then proceed to fight amongst themselves to draw new borders. (Far far worse outcome than the status quo)

          From all reports I have heard, Kurds have proven capable fighters and seem likely to be able to constitute an army to defend their new borders reasonably. Where the borders get drawn would have huge impact on what the economy looks like, but that will be quite contentious. (oil?) It’s economic strength and support from other nations would be major determinants on its independance. If it is weak, it will probably be in a very tough position. Being mostly Sunni allying with the Saudis makes some sense, but Iran would surely be quite upset by a strong Saudi ally right next door.

          It is not a pretty picture, but owning and keeping land in that part of the world is still a bloody affair.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Mr.Joe says:

            The hardest part might well be that the Kurds have some centuries of ill will built up against all of the Arabs, Persians, and Turks. Based on even recent evidence, one of the first policies a Kurdistan would be looking to enforce is the eviction of all three from their shiny new country.Report

            • Avatar Mr.Joe in reply to Michael Cain says:

              As a new country, they would probably do whatever their sponsor nations wish. At least at first. But that sort of behavior is pretty common for that part of the world. So, I would not be the least bit surprised.

              I have no clue what the worst case scenario for displacement would be. Clearly there would be some completely voluntary (e.g. I want to live in Iran not Kurdistan) and semi-voluntary (eg they make it too hard to be not-Kurdish Kurdistan.) Completely involuntary displacement (eg. leave or die) would be frowned upon if Kurdistan were dependant on the US/EU and probably not happen too much.

              But yeah… that’s another risk. I certainly do not see Kurdistan as a sunshine and rainbows option.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird says:

          Is Kurdistan possible?

          As I used to say when asked to enable demos of some exotic piece of tech in some unusual place, “It’s technically feasible. What’s your budget and schedule?” And sometimes, “I’ll also need something signed by a C-level executive because some corporate rules will need to be… badly bent.”

          The premier military power on the planet, with the added ability to (at least temporarily) print unlimited amounts of the world’s reserve currency, can technically deliver Kurdistan. Some things will almost certainly need to be… badly bent in the process.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Michael Cain says:

            Which is exactly what I mean when I talk about a second Israel. It could be done, you put enough nuclear weapons behind any idea and it’ll happen, the question is whether it’s something we want, because there isn’t another way for “the US pledges military support to protect the Kuds” is going to finish up.Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

          <a href=""Greater Kurdistan encompasses areas in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey.

          Lesser Kurdistan was unofficially/officially established as a semi-autonomous province in Iraq. Google Mosul and Kirkuk to see how we attempted to split the (Oil) Baby.

          Lesser Kurdistan has not conceded dreams of Greater Kurdistan… or it has conceded them unofficially in a semi-autonomous way.

          The area surrounding Mosul in Lesser Kurdistan will not support the immigration of all the Kurds from Greater Kurdistan … so the short answer is, No… Kurdistan is not in the Gift of US power.

          Plus, there are the secondary considerations that Lesser or Medium or Greater Kurdistan makes Iraq less viable – hence the semi-autonomous compromise when we were in a position to unilaterally make compromises.

          Or, another way to look at it is this… Lesser Kurdistan in Iraq *is* Kurdistan, so why don’t all the Turkish, Syrian and Iranian Kurds go there and stop agitating for Greater Kurdistan. That’s cynically the Syrian, Iranian, and Turkish position.

          But hey, it’s just Sharpie lines on a Map, so there’s always that Presidential option too.Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Just have the House vote to support military intervention. I think that I would much rather argue that this isn’t covered by Bush’s AUMF than that it is.

    Let the House vote to intervene. Then force Trump’s hand.

    I mean, if we agree that this is something we ought to do. It should be easy to get people on board. Democrats can run on this, right?Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

      We all know the most irresponsible thing possible would be to have a vote in the organ of government the constitution specifically empowers to make a decision.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to InMD says:

        Honestly, this has been one constant from Trump. The executive branch is doing something on it’s own because it got a blank check from Congress, or Congress didn’t bother to say ‘No!’, and Trump decides to use the blank check or lack of legislative direction, and everyone whines and gnashes teeth about how terrible he is to do that, without remembering that Congress gave the office that power, and that Congress can take that power back.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          There’s a weird feeling that I have in the back of my head that tells me that if Trump was invading Syria to Protect The Kurds and fight ISIS, we’d be having arguments like this one.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          “Congress can take that power back.”

          Not without John Roberts’ consent.

          And I think it is even money he would back Trump.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            Personally, I think that risking embarrassment of the Supreme Court arguing against the whole “co-equal branches” thing is worth the attempt to re-establish co-equality of the branches.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            Pretty sure SCOTUS won’t bother to hear that case. Congress can shut off the AUMF, or make a much formal declaration of war that requires the executive to wage war.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            “Congress can take that power back.”

            Justin Amash 2020!! (??)Report

          • Avatar Mr.Joe in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            There is not enough desire in Congress to take powers back. All of Trump vetoes are restraints on his power that gathered majorities in both houses but not 2/3rds of both houses. Which left him unrestrained.Report

            • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Mr.Joe says:

              Maybe Mr. Cain our resident parliamentarian can research for us… but because the AUMF of 01/02 was written without regard to time or geography, only to designate some bad hombre’s … I don’t think Congress can “take-it-back” without passing a law that Sunsets or Circumscribes the AUMF… which would require a Presidential signature.

              So, unfortunately, I don’t think Congress is able to unilaterally fix the AUMF… in fact, if we recall when Obama was going to ask for a new AUMF for Syria, a bunch of Neo-Cons were mad and told him he didn’t have to. So, if I’m understanding the process correctly, it now requires Presidential cooperation to retire or restrict the AUMF under which we do anything we want in the Middle East… as long as we sprinkle Al Qaeda fairydust on it.

              Alternately there are the big guns of Funding/Appropriations, but those guns are too big to use… that is, either hold-up the budget and/or attempt to unfund the entire Pentagon (I think – correct me if congress could surgically unfund targeted uses – absent an amended AUMF).Report

              • Avatar Mr.Joe in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Nearly everything Congress does can be undone by Congress in the same way it was done. They can fix the AUMF, but it requires 2/3rds vote in both houses to override the Presidential veto. It was attempted with Yemen but the Senate failed to override with only 53 votes vs needed 67.

                My recollection is that every attempt at challenging the AUMF in court has been shot down due to process reasons.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Marchmaine says:

                The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Pub. L. 107-40, codified at 115 Stat. 224 and passed as S.J.Res. 23 by the United States Congress on September 14, 2001, authorizes the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001 and any “associated forces”.

                So Bush/Obama could use it against “Al Qaeda in Iraq”, which renamed themselves to “ISIS”, not against Saddam.

                Every time a terror group renames itself the President doesn’t need to go back to Congress.Report

          • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            Congress values its own plausible deniability far more than exercising power and then being held accountable when caskets come home and voters wonder who the heck got us into another mess.Report

  7. Avatar greginak says:

    Up until Trump’s announcement we and the kurds had been dismantling some of their defenses due to an agreement between the turks and the kurds. So not only have we left the kurds open to some light genocide but we were helping to make them helpless because they believed our support, which in this case was diplomatic and political kept them safe. And he f*cked them without, apparently, consulting with anyone else. Or giving a shit.

    History and geopolitics is weird and messy and often ugly. The Kurds are one of histories screwed people. They are spread over four countries in a violent area. They aren’t big enough on their own in one country to carve out a safe spot, so they stay oppressed and occasionally slaughtered in all. We have been protecting them to some degree for decades at this point. We have no great solution and not quite enough power to force other countries to peacefully and democratically take them. They did do well in Iraq for a while i believe. No matter how we got here, these Kurds were safe because of us. While we can’t create a place for them they were safe because of us in a dangerous place. True safety and peace for them was out of our grasp, but basic safety was in our reach. Until trump gave the thumbs up in his “great and unmatched wisdom” ( his own words) to a blood letting.

    I’m guessing there are some rather salty comments among our troops who have been there going on right now. Perhaps some that are not completely in line with how soldiers should be addressing their CinC.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

      Do you think that we, as a society, should have done a better job supporting Bush’s vision of remaking the Middle East and done less to focus on the excesses of a handful of cherry-picked non-representative incidents?Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

        Yeah i can see how avoiding talking about this fugly incident is appealing. And the answer is no, but not sporking relevant.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

          I see that it is relevant insofar as I see the arguments about how important it is that we do something as being farcical restatements of the arguments used almost two decades ago in service to Iraq.

          Like, to the point where I’m wondering if we are deliberately ignoring the parallels.Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

            I’ll admit to being a bit cranky about this. This is bs. There isn’t’ any “must do something” here. We had about 50 SF there and our commitment to supporting the Kurds. It was our guarantee that kept them safe. There is no great solution here. But going back on our guarantee only serves to lead to mass deaths. Not having a good solution does not mean going all “F yeah…floor it on a horrible solution.” You are trying to fit a parallel to grind your own axes instead of talking directly about what is occurring right now.

            Trump is okaying something between terrible and genocide based on who the f*ck knows. That is today, not bush or whatever.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

              There’s a point at which I’m willing to ask “why in the hell are we still in the Middle East?” and I passed it a few years back.

              I’m down with going to the UN and asking to have a new and improved Kurdistan set up, for the record.

              I just don’t see why “forever war” is seen as the good option.

              It honestly strikes me as topsy-turvy.Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to greginak says:

          What you’re saying here is really just another version of the sunk cost fallacy.

          There will always be another massacre on the horizon, another group of people we’re leaving to the wolves, to justify doubling, tripling, quadrupling down on the wrong decision, which will then inevitably create cause for the next wrong decision.Report

  8. Avatar George Turner says:

    I have to agree with InMD, Michael Cain, Oscar, Joe, and others here that there really wan’t a viable free-Kurdistan option in the cards, other than as a temporary respite before the next bad thing in local geopolitics happened. Turkey was already operating in the area, putting a heavy footprint far outside their borders under the guise of stopping Kurdish terrorism in Turkey. Taking some of Assad’s turf was just an additional plus for them.

    Turkey had been planning this move for a long time, and we and other actors and observers had been fully aware of what they wanted to do. Nobody had a good answer other than to try an dissuade them diplomatically, because nobody was going to dig troops into a place that would be hard to defend against a large, determined, and well-armed NATO country with upgraded M-60’s and F-16s.

    We’d operated small number of forces there, and all supply lines into the area are long and thin, thready, and exposed. We’d find ourselves fighting an important regional “ally” but without sufficient forces, logistics, and air support to be anything more than a speed bump. Other than feeling better about helping Kurdish villagers, what is our strategic interest that would justify running supply convoys from Kuwait, up through southern Iraq, all the way across Western Iraq, and into Syria? What would be the exit strategy, since the awful neighbors aren’t going to go move away?

    So if Turkey is determine to roll in and stay, I think the best move we have to support the Kurds is to give Turkey our blessing, both to keep the Kurds from thinking they can repel Turkey by force (and avoiding our past mistakes of promising support that wouldn’t be forthcoming), and to keep everything as non-violent and non-confrontational as possible. With Trump making Turkey’s move look like it’s on the up-and-up, other governments and NGO’s can stay and actively monitor Turkey’s behavior, keeping the world’s eyes upon them.

    My hope is that Turkey will eventually get sick of being the area’s policeman, the Turkish populace will tire of the expansionist Erdogan, and will seek to withdraw once nobody else is troubling the Kurdish areas. In the mean time, the captured ISIS fighters become Turkey’s problem.

    Sure, it’s not a very positive outcome for the Kurds, and I wish there was a magic solution that would make the place a thriving Kurdish techno state that rivals Brunei, Dubai, or Singapore. But I don’t see a realistic way to bring that about without dumping in vastly more resources than the anyone wants to commit to the project.Report

  9. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    There are two separate issues being discussed.
    One is whether abandoning the Kurds is a good idea. This is debatable.

    The other is that the world has a breathtaking demonstration that American foreign policy is entirely out of control, steered by a man with the impulse control of a toddler and unbound by any sort of principle or sense of interest above his own ego and immediate gratification.

    Every nation now understands how to extract what they want from America, and making plans accordingly.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Except that Trump has been saying he’ll pull us out of Syria for a couple of years now. He got strong opposition from various US military and diplomatic people who’d become focused on the area, feeling a sense of propriety over their little bailiwick. Our only purpose there was to see that ISIS was defeated. Some say they aren’t completely gone, but crazy fanaticism is never entirely eliminated in a population largely consisting of crazy fanatics. Keeping that Islamist mindset in check might require deploying troops until the sun runs out of hydrogen and expands into a red giant.

      The consultations on this, with input from State, CIA, DoD, ground commanders, and virtually all the regional actors has gone on for a long time without anyone offering up a viable alternative if Turkey decides to step into the power vacuum. Assad doesn’t have the resources to do it, Iraq is struggling to control even Western Iraq, and Jordan certainly has no interest in trying to extend itself to the Turkish border. Anyone else would have to move supplies through those countries.

      The amount of land the Kurds will control is still vast (BBC article with a nice map and discussion).

      Trump said that if Turkey misbehaves he’ll destroy their economy, which isn’t an idle threat given the sanctions currently devastating Iran. Turkey also agreed to handle the ISIS prisoners, who are in camps far beyond what Turkey wants to use as a safe zone. Getting those out of the area will be a big plus for the Kurds.

      Turkey says it wants to establish the safe zone so it can resettle some of the enormous numbers of Syrian refugees now living in Turkey. That should also be a plus, but may cause friction if those resettled refugees are not Kurdish and set down roots in those northern areas that formerly were heavily Kurdish. But that’s something for the folks involved to settle among themselves.

      People have long urged the creation of safe zones inside of Syria. But a safe zone requires enough commitment so the troops don’t flee at the first sign of whatever new group of thugs shows up. In regarding these safe zones as essential to Turkey’s own border security, Turkey is probably the only country in a position to maintain viable long-term safe zones.Report

    • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Yes, we should go kick Vietnams ASS!!!Report

    • Since I haven’t commented much today (I’ve been away from my desk all day on pressing stuff, my apologies) I’m going to hijack Chip’s two questions here to try and condense some answers others had further up to the OP.

      1) Is abandoning the Kurds a good idea? It is not, but it is a debatable point and has complexities. It isn’t a clear-cut answer and good faith people can take several positions on it. The issue at hand is we (United States) had agreements in place, agreements that SecState Pompeo were reiterating as late as Saturday night, that The Pentagon and all our allies were operating under, and the president after speaking with Erdogan summarily upended those plans. You can couch it in “forever wars”, “we shouldn’t be there” and “let them handle it” and such, but fact is we promised to do something, and then reneged in the worst possible way on the president’s whim. Our word either means something or it doesn’t, even if we don’t all agree on why we are doing something in the first place. “How many lives is it worth” is no longer the question once we already agreed to do it. And frankly, what we have been doing on the border was working, so well that most American’s had forgotten we had troops there at all until last night. All the president had to do was continue on as is under the established framework in place. Instead he gives Erdogan his dream for no discernable reason other than he asked on the phone for it.

      2) Is American foreign policy is entirely out of control? Chip and I find common ground here. The keys to foreign policy are, have been, and always will be communication, consistency, and resolve. This administration has none of the three. Because everything the president does is run through his very narrow lens of himself first, there is no rhyme or reason to most of the decision making beyond his notions and feelz. Vague sophistry like “America first!” isn’t foreign policy, it is the territorial pissing of someone who is more concerned with controlling their immediate, surrounding environment that operating a ship of state in a complex world. This is how every competent world leader has rolled him. Kim has worked him, Xi has worked him, Putin is romping in high cotton worldwide, and now Erdogen has worked him to get the 30+ year dream of Turkey to roll up the territories they are about to engineer a pretense to charge into. We will be years fixing the current foreign policy disasters unfolding, the alliances damaged by bad faith, and thousands will suffer worldwide because of the fecklessness.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

        Regarding point 1, it seems that Erdogan was just informing Trump that Turkey was sending their army into the border area. Erdogan didn’t need our permission for that, other than to avoid a diplomatic spat, and our troops there had been expecting it for months. They had made preparations to leave quickly if Turkey decided to move in at any point, so as to avoid any potential friction. Fortunately we only have 50 soldiers to withdraw. Whatever promises the US was making, those 50 soldiers were all that we had to cash the checks.

        One of the Republican House members was on the news spinning tales of the coming apocalypse that will ensue from Trump’s rash decision, but my thought was that if there’s only 50 troops staving off the collapse of Western civilization, what happens if a bunch of them came down with the flu? If holding some area of the world was really critically important to us, wouldn’t we send at least 60 guys? He went on to explain what a disaster it will be when the Kurds just release 10,000 ISIS fighters from the camps as a result of Trump’s decision. My thought on that was whether Kurdish guards further south, where the camps are, would tell ISIS members “Oh, Turkey is in the north now, so you guys a free to go back to killing our families.”

        The withdrawal of US forces from the border area (which may extend 20 miles) shouldn’t come as a shock to any nation, since Trump has been publicly pushing for a US withdrawal from Syria since he took office. Is there going to be some point in the future where the situation will be much better? What conditions would have to exist before his detractors agreed that it would be okay if our fifty guys drove 20 minutes to the south?Report

        • Inaccurate. Erdogan needed our permission because up until this point we told him “no” both in rhetoric and in presence of US forces. He did not dare cross us militarily so he worked the pliable and foolish president instead to get what he wanted. And your troop numbers and information is wrong.Report

          • Avatar George Turner in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

            Over the summer Erdogan changed his mind, and said the current situation was unacceptable and that he could not wait. So back in August we agreed to a northern buffer zone and Kurdish and SDF forces withdrew from various areas. Things didn’t go as smoothly as we’d hoped, and Turkey has grown more impatient. Importantly, Moscow decided to support Turkey’s move whereas they’d previously opposed it. SDF border fortifications and heavy weapons had already been removed and new defensive lines established further south.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner says:

              ” Importantly, Moscow decided to support Turkey’s move whereas they’d previously opposed it.”

              That is the important part, isn’t it?Report

            • Avatar JoeSal in reply to George Turner says:

              Probably a important note in here is the failings of something called the European Commission. What a clusterfish of a construct, reminds me of a soviet construct but chocked full of all the usual suspects.

              Some articles are saying we were working to draw down to 400. Considering the forces in any particular direction, we by default had pretty much withdrawn.

              It’s almost like the media is turning it up to 11 to distract from something else and keep Trump on the hot seat.Report

  10. Avatar Chip Daniels says:


    If I were a resident of Taiwan right about now, I would pack my bags and find my passport.Report

  11. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Turks are bombing Kurds within hours of the announcement. Good job Trump supporters, good jobs. Glad you feel fine with owning the libs:

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      The story you linked says:

      The Syrian Arab News Agency said earlier Monday that Turkey hit positions of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish militia that allied with US forces against the Islamic State group in Syria.

      The apparent target was a border crossing between Syria and Iraq in the al-Hasakah region. There were no reports of injuries.

      Syria state media aired videos purporting to be of the strikes, though Kurdish media denied an assault by Turkish forces.


    • Avatar InMD in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      You talk like all the progressive outlets and people freaking out about this even had a clue about the situation 24 hours ago. If you ever want to understand why left-of-center America punches below its weight consider that no one on your side of this debate has been able to articulate anything close to a coherent perspective on the issue of Syria. The best we got is Andrew’s position which I read charitably as ‘we broke a promise and that is wrong and creates distrust among people we have to work with. However I decline to assess whether that promise ever made any sense to begin with and we absolutely should not explore that line of thinking for any reason.’

      And it isn’t only you, Obama himself failed badly here. Now maybe you and Chip also took the neocon position whenever he was criticized for some decision that was viewed as insufficiently hawkish but I kind of doubt it.

      It’s like Jay said above, the dominant culture of progressive America puts so much emphasis on being on the side of good that people can’t even remember what position they took 5 minutes ago or if this new moral outrage squares with the last one. Before you know it you’ve drawn so many incoherent lines in the sand that no one knows what the hell to make of you. We, and I emphasize the ‘we’ here, all lose with this.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

        Of all the alliances America has around the world, can you name one that is stronger today than when Trump took office?

        Is there a single area in which American diplomatic posture is stronger, more secure?

        America today is weaker, more isolated and more insecure than anytime in modern memory.

        Invoking the ‘neocons’ is a weak attempt to exclude the middle.

        There is a wide range of soft and economic power that America can wield to achieve a better result than this.
        But right now, we have a president who is both a sociopath and a weakling, both a liar and a gullible fool.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          I suspect that the anti-anti-Trump types are going to be pushing back hard. Iraq II was a huge fucking mistake and now the cost is apparently total discounting of anyone who argues against Trump on foreign policy grounds.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            “And that’s why we have to support Trump for Iraq III.”Report

            • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

              It isn’t Iraq III. Turkey withheld from invading and massacring the Kurds because they knew it would raise US ire. Now Trump gave them the green light. One authoritarian to another. Only Trump got played according to anyone with even an iota of knowledge about foreign policy.

              I don’t know why anyone sees Trump as anything but it a charlatan and fraud but own the libs rules all.

              But anti anti Trumo types are just as cowardly as the President that they refuse to support openlyReport

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Again, drawing lines in the sand over nonsense. Anyone who doesn’t see eye to eye with you must be a secret Trump supporter.

                Does it ever occur that maybe, just maybe, the bloated Pentagon budget is one of the best sources we have to support systems for things like universal healthcare coverage, investments in education, and infrastructure of the kind that would actually help Americans? You know, the kinds of pocket book things that actually do help people out? And that this knee jerk militarism is directly in conflict with those goals? Saving the world ain’t cheap you know.

                See also my questions to Chip. Is there really no legitimate Turkish interest here, and should we pay the cost of taking ownership of the complicated situation between them and the Kurds? The reality is you don’t know and you don’t care.

                So sure Trump is a charlatan. And so are all these people to whom you’re ascribing great wisdom because today they happen to disagree with president dingus.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to InMD says:

                There is no legitimate Turkish interest here. There is only a very stupid version of Cleek’s law and isolationalism/America First at play. Trump is not being a broken clock here, he is being is typical temper tantrum and cowardly self.

                The neoconservatives fucked up with Iraq II. I don’t deny that but this does not make any use of the American military and/or American power in the foreign policy sphere bad.

                This is no glory in anti anti Trump.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                “There is no legitimate Turkish interest here. ”

                There’s no legitimate American interest there.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                I am not being anti anti Trump I am making an honest assessment of American interests and capabilities. You say Turkey has no legitimate interest but don’t explain how that can be. They’ve been fighting with separatists Kurds since at least the 80s, who now have a base of operations in vast lawless areas areas of Syria. No country in Turkey’s position can be said to have no legitimate interest in a situation like that, even if we concede to the legitimacy of the grievances Kurds have against Turkey and the other states they live in.

                Yes, we’ve aligned with Kurdish militias periodically and made promises to them we could never possibly keep. That was wrong, but the sooner we own up to that and move on the sooner the involved parties can either come to a realistic resolution or fight to the death if thats what they have to do.

                And since we need to keep bringing this back to Trump, I’ll also throw in that I don’t think his administration has anything close to the competence to manage the alternative. Even if there was appetite for another military commitment with no clear time table or objective I don’t want our soldiers one misstep away from a shooting war with a NATO country over an ethnic minority that uses us as much as we use them. Certainly not under this CnC who has less appreciation and understanding of foreign affairs than any president in modern history.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Saul, let’s assume for a minute that Iraq II was bad enough (oh, and Libya and Egypt) that the presumptive case for intervention does not exist.

                Like, the burden of proof is on “this is why we have to intervene” rather than on “it’s okay to assume that this will be a cluster just like last time”.

                Could you make the case for why we need to be Team America: World Police?

                Are you just going to rely on how the burden of proof is on all of the negative ninnies who aren’t mustering the willpower to support our troops enough?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Again, there is a middle between World Police and chaos.
                Trump has no ‘policy’, only impulsive chaos and self interest.

                And anyone who tweets about destroying Turkey’s economy is not an ally, and not any sort of non-interventionalist.

                Also again, withdrawal from Syria may be the right thing to do.
                But impulsive recklessness never is.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Let’s assume that Trump is a crazy, nutty, irresponsible buffoon.

                Is that a reason to NOT HAVE HIM HAVE AN ARMY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MIDDLE EAST?!?!?Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Jaybird says:

                If folks like Saul and Chip were really concerned, they could join the unsanctioned american fighters that are already with the Kurds.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to JoeSal says:

                As much fun as the “chickenhawk” argument is, it’s not like you can make the Army stay in Syria by enlisting.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                (At the very least, it should be saved for “we need to send more people there!” rather than “we shouldn’t leave!”)Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m not talking enlisting. That’s why i mentioned unsanctioned.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to JoeSal says:

                More along the lines of buying a plane ticket. Walking in country and finding a rifle. Americans who were REALLY concerned have done this.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yes, withdrawal from Syria is probably a good idea.

                Suppose we withdrew our army after making sure Turkey doesn’t slaughter the Kurds?

                Wouldn’t that be a good idea?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                “Suppose we withdrew our army after making sure Turkey doesn’t slaughter the Kurds? Wouldn’t that be a good idea?”

                wE’VE spEnT So mUCh blOoD aNd TReaSUreReport

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Suppose we withdrew our army after making sure Turkey doesn’t slaughter the Kurds?

                And how do we go about doing this?

                Are we talking about “getting a signature on a piece of paper”?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                The same way we get other nations to cooperate with our strategic goals?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                “The same way we get other nations to cooperate with our strategic goals?”

                By providing favored partners with main-force military systems and weapons at below-cost prices and backing it up with suggestions that we would deploy strategic assets on that partner’s behalf?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                We talkin’ like, China? Canada? England? Egypt?

                Which is Turkey most analogized to, here?Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Jaybird says:

                If Turkey wanted to slaughter Kurds, why would they go into Syria to do it when they have 14 million Kurds in Turkey who would be easier to get to? In fact, the entire region bordering Syria is two-thirds Kurdish, and the region north of that is 80% Kurdish.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                There is no legitimate Turkish interest here.

                The Turks are currently and actively at war with various groups of the Kurds. Let’s just copy wiki.

                The Kurdistan Workers’ Party has faced international condemnation for using terrorist tactics, which include kidnapping, civilian massacres, summary executions, suicide bombers, and child soldiers, and for its involvement in drug trafficking.[294][295][296] The organization has targeted civilians, doctors, teachers, schools, hospitals, and other government institutions on a mass scale since the 1984, and is responsible for thousands of civilian deaths.[125][297] [snip]

                Each those categories in bold has its own expanded brick of text, all of them have recent examples. Unsurprisingly terror/revolutionary groups don’t have a lot of respect for borders and since Syria doesn’t control its territory and that area is filled with Kurds whose hearts are drawn to the PKK, the PKK largely hangs out outside of Turkey and inside of Syria when they’re not selling drugs or engaging in terrorism.


                To be fair further down from that link there’s also a huge brick of text that goes over Turkey’s various abuses. The word “genocide” was invented to describe Turkey’s treatment of the Kurds a century ago.

                Big picture there are two ways forward.
                1) Turn the Kurds into their own state using land from Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and/or Iran.
                2) Some type of assimilation.

                US state policy has always been NOT #1 because screwing with other country’s borders is messy, expensive, and one Israel is enough. However when I look at the demographics it gets real easy to think that “the Kurds deserve a state”. Not being stupid Turkey can see that too and is trying to head it off. Asking Turkey to give up that section of the country would be roughly like us being asked to give California, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, & Utah to Mexico. This concept is seriously into “US civil war” territory as far as it’s expense and blood.

                Our interests are complex; We’re allies with various groups of Kurds against ISIS. Turkey is a member of NATO and a for-real State with everything that comes with it. The number of factions is way larger than I’ve mentioned, I saw a grid listing roughly two dozen serious players and whom-kills/helps-whom.

                This looks like an issue that won’t be settled for centuries.Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          To your question, I would say no, none of our alliances are stronger, and our international stature is mostly clownish under Trump. There are a number of things he has done I strongly disagree with, like abandoning the deal with Iran and pulling out of the Paris climate accords.

          But lets also break down what you said. You realize Turkey actually is a NATO ally, right? Does that alliance play into your thinking at all, and is their interest in not having a chaotic border area used by militant separatists legitimate? Are you willing for America to pay the cost of securing that (assuming we even can) so that they don’t?

          This isn’t an exclusion of the middle it’s a request for a plan informed by a roughly a couple decades of dealing with this stuff without one. To the extent there is a middle here I think I’m a lot closer to it than you.Report

        • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          A gullible fool is someone who thinks the US can afford to be The World Police Force and somehow sustain that forever.

          Countries and even people within this nation have been plotting its virtues against itself, and if it takes someone like Trump to abruptly stop that non-sense then the sooner the better, and so be it.

          When Trump ran for election he wasn’t shy about bringing home the troops, this isn’t even impulse as it was described as a tenet for years. That the Pentagon and a sizeable part of the military have been operating in contradiction and sloth probably should have a flavor of punishment.

          This illustrates why militaries should be governed by civil authority, and not by their own perpetual interests.

          The US can continue to wield economic power, though even that is a questionable tactic.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

        It’s like Jay said above, the dominant culture of progressive America puts so much emphasis on being on the side of good that people can’t even remember what position they took 5 minutes ago

        Hmmm. Let’s test this proposition. …

        IIRC !!!, US justified supporting the Kurdish insurgents in Syria because they were fighting against the (evil, totalitarian, etc) Assad regime’s crackdown on dissent. The Kurdish fighters were, IOW, freedom fighters. And as the crackdown increased, popular opinion in the US increasingly backed/agitated for materially supporting those folks effort to, well, not so much defend themselves but topple the regime. At this point, backing the Kurds was a bipartisan policy, championed by elite conservative opinion as well as liberals. Part of the deal, though, was that those forces would pursue US anti-terrorist objectives against ISIS as part of their overall insurgency/self-defense (which makes sense since ISIS had taken up residence in their backyard). And *now*, given that the Kurds have enemies on all sides, the rationale for continuing to supporting them is that if abandoned they will be slaughtered, Assad will consolidate power, Turkey will invade, Russia expand it’s sphere of influence, Iran will be emboldened, Israel will feel threatened, and Saudi Arabia will keep slaughtering Yemenis without anyone caring.

        Is that about right as far as the progressive left story from 5 minutes ago goes?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

          I’m pretty sure that the consensus was something about us attacking Syria beautifully.

          It was more about Assad than about either ISIS or Kurds, though. Assad was bad because of Kerry getting outplayed by Russia or something.Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to Stillwater says:

          You left out the part about a sizable fraction of the Kurdish forces being communist revolutionaries who probably want to turn Turkey into a Soviet client state like Syria under the Assads has been. They were organized enough to make hard stands against ISIS – the group that was also attacking the Syrian government forces. This morning the regime is making overtures to the Kurds to join forces with the regime to repel Turkey.

          For those trying to keep score at home, I recommend Microsoft Office and their professional management tools.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

          Stillwater, the ‘tell’ here is how the criticism of Trump, which now encompasses virtually the entire American defense and foreign policy leaders is somehow “progressive”.

          Mitt Romney, David French, Lindsey Graham, Pat Freakin’ Robertson…they are all part of the ‘progressives’ now.

          From what I can see, no one is defending this except the Trump base.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            “Pull out of the Middle East” is support for Trump.

            Out of curiosity, has it always been?Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

              We aren’t withdrawing from the Mideast.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                For the record, I think we should.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird says:

                Chip: We aren’t withdrawing from the Mideast.

                Jaybird: For the record, I think we should.

                For the record, I disagree. We have serious interests in the Mideast (oil, not letting terrorists get nukes). We’ve found out repeatedly that if we leave we have to go back and spend more money/blood than we would have if we hadn’t left.

                Obama tried the “pull out” strategy and for all his rhetoric of it being fine, he found out that he was giving ISIS a country and decided that was a bad idea.

                And that’s at a minimum. The problem with “no global cop” is “regional rivals get nukes” and that’s expected to be a bad thing. Another strong argument is by staying we can keep the lid on long enough for those countries to grow up.

                Having said all that, having our police storm the place every time our cultural values are offended is expensive and doesn’t make friends, so we need to pick our battles better (and handle them much better).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Dark Matter says:

                I don’t reckon that we do a good job of picking our battles.

                We should go in, kill as many people as we need to in order to kill the leadership of whomever is pissing us off, allow our soldiers to leave with no more than $1000 in goods (a rifle taken from the body of a fallen opponent, say), and leave a note on the throne of the country we just decapitated that says “don’t make us come back” and that’s it.

                Assuming we don’t declare war, that is.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                You are right that we have legitimate interests, and I would add that true isolationism isn’t even possible.

                When you are the world’s largest military and the world’s largest economy, any possible action we take is going to have all sorts of repercussions throughout the world.

                As unlikely as it would have sounded just a few years ago, the protests in Hong Kong is a hotbutton issue for basketball fans.

                We can’t not be involved, which is not the same as saying we need to be the world’s policeman. Our foreign policy will always be complex and contain contradictions and difficult choices.

                And therefore can’t be allowed to be made by a sociopathic narcissist.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Good comment Dark.

                Add: I like the one below too, about Trump being a sociopath. The only thing I disagree with is your agnisticism about whether he’s doing his job, but that’s probably because we disagree about what his job actually is.Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            This is correct. But also i don’t’ really see people defending what is actually occurring. They are attacking things done years ago or trying to attack people for their positions instead of just plainly defending Trump’s action.

            So if we shouldn’t have been in Syria, how does that make the chaotic way this is being done good? No answer.

            If we should get out how does that square with the fact we aren’t’ drawing down one solider. None have been moved and if they are it will just be to a different part of syria.

            Is anybody but the True Kool Aid drinkers going to try to defend working with the Turks and Kurds to form a plan to start to deescalate in the area THEN give the Turks the green light to invade.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to greginak says:

              No one (with certain notable exceptions) ever squarely defends Trump.

              Instead, like bees defending the hive, they leap to attack anyone who criticizes him.

              But don’t you dare call them Trump supporters.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                “Why do you keep attacking Mister McCarthy? Are you communists? It’s the only possible explanation!”Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                In your analogy, the entire American defense and diplomatic establishment is McCarthy, unjustly persecuting Trump?

                Really, that’s the argument?

                Wouldn’t you be on stronger ground comparing him to Joan of Arc? Or maybe Jesus?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Oh, Chip. There are plenty of reasons that Pat Robertson is supporting us staying there. There are plenty of reasons that Generals and Former Generals want us to stay there.

                I’m just trying to point out that there might just be a principled reason to say “I don’t agree with Pat Robertson and the Generals”.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Is there anyone worth listening to, who thinks this was a good idea?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                There are a lot of things that need to be unpacked.

                “worth listening to” is one.
                “this” is another.

                What is “this”?
                Going into the Middle East and meddling?

                For what it’s worth, I’m not sure that there is anyone worth listening to that thinks that going into the Middle East and meddling is a good idea, no.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                It’s OK to just say, “Trump screwed up here.”

                Really- the world won’t come crashing down.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                you…really need to go back and re-read the comments in that post Jaybird linked.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m not sure that there is anyone worth listening to that thinks that going into the Middle East and meddling is a good idea

                For certain values of “good” it probably is. The world is smaller, we have issues pop up where we clearly have no choice, 911 is probably a good example. Similarly letting ISIS (i.e. “Al Qaeda in Iraq”) control a nation state is also a “no choice” thing.

                After that it gets complex and there are risk/reward profiles. The first gulf war seems another good choice, Sadam presumably would have continued invading countries until he was a serious world player, I don’t see what in Saudi Arabia would stop him.

                However we need to be very clear that not taking an action is also an action. If Iraq had gone nuclear then we’d have another half dozen nuclear nation states in the Middle East, and ISIS taking over states would get a lot more interesting.Report

            • Avatar InMD in reply to greginak says:

              The problem with what you’re suggesting here is that it is never in practice going to work that way. It never has and it never will.

              We never de-escalate, we entrench and entangle ourselves deeper and deeper in matters that don’t concern us.

              Would it be nice if we got the bases out of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia too? Sure. Stopped putting our finger on the scales for the Israelis? Absolutely. But yea probably not happening any time soon.

              However every one of these idiotic conflicts in the ME we are no longer materially participating in is a win for us. We need the courage to get out, and I (and I suspect the prople who agree with me) have accepted that getting out of any one of these is always going to result in unhinged squealing about blood on our hands and the massacre to come. Sometimes that may even be true, but it is the only way to end the cycle.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to InMD says:

                Well we actually do get out sometimes. Not nearly as much as we should. I remember Obama geting slammed for getting out of Iraq whcih is the kind of golden oldie that has been repeated in the last couple days. But do think we shoudl desescalte and get out of a lot of places. But how we do it matters.

                And again, we aren’t, taking any troops out of Syria. If we move them they will be redeployed to another part of Syria. And they haven’t moved yet since this was a standard Trumperfish with not coordination or actual orders down the chain of command. So if you are for getting out, this isn’t it.

                And if are getting out leads directly to people we have supported, up until the day before trumps announcement, and protected getting killed then that seems a bad way to do it.

                This is the kind of comment i’m criticizing. You don’t seem to actually be defending what trump is doing, but more wanting other things that he isn’t’ doing. He isn’t giving you the things you want and in many ways i think would also be good. he is just adding another bit of cruelty and death with none of the actual good stuff.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to greginak says:

                Our soldiers are no longer standing in between Kurdish fighters and Turkish firepower. If they fight it out or if Erdogan and Assad go to the mat over the territory, we will not be there to get caught in the crossfire or dragged into fighting or a diplomatic crisis. That is a good thing.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

                OTOH!, our troops wouldn’t be in danger of a Turkish invasion if Trump didn’t give Turkey a green light to invade. And I think this is why Trump’s withdrawal is getting so much pushback. It’s so cynical that it invites questions re: his motives. For example, he could have withdrawn US troops while *also* pressuring Turkey to not invade. As it happens, tho, after he greenlit the invasion, and in response to worries that the Turks will slaughter the Syrian Kurds, he said that if Turkey engages in actions which he views as having gone too far (or some such useless phrase) he’ll destroy Turkey’s economy. ???

                But if he has that power, or even that genuine sentiment, then why not just threaten them with destruction if they invade at all? Why give Erdogan the invasion he wants if you have the power to prevent it? Especially if withdrawing US troops is predicated on keeping them safe from a Turkish invasion you just greenlit. ??? I mean, nothing he’s said makes the slightest bit of sense.

                etc and so on, of course, but I think that’s where the pushback is focused.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                Your listing of the myriad options Trump could have taken illustrates the motte and Bailey game his defenders are using here, where the motte is “what Trump did was correct” and the Bailey is “well, doesn’t everyone agree we should reduce our footprint in the Mideast?”Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Your motte requires a pretty heavy premise of armchair presidenting. Also the correctness or incorrectness typically takes time to see how the parameters unfold. That looks a hell of a lot like stealing a base.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to JoeSal says:

                For the record, I’m all in favor of reducing our footprint globally, the Mideast especially.

                But that’s not really what Trump is doing, and its not what he’s criticized for doing.

                The criticism is of his recklessness, childish impulsiveness, and utter disregard for the welfare of the American people.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                If Trump turns this country into something close to a isolationist country in terms of military involvement, I don’t think claims of recklessness, or impulsiveness will matter.

                He is doing what the Clintons didn’t do, the Bushes didn’t do, the Obamas didn’t do. Hillary killed Libya on 5th avenue and for some damn reason didn’t get elected.

                That stands in stark contrast to the claim orange man reckless and bad of whatever hyped up media you have been mainlining.

                If the wish of the american people is to be done with the ME, maybe that is the welfare that matters.

                Of course I’m sure the media will roll whatever shiny new ball across the stage tomorrow, and it will just be the: MOST WHATEVER THING THAT HAS EVER BEEN

                and today? today will be another mysteryReport

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to JoeSal says:

                If Trump turns this country into something close to a isolationist country in terms of military involvement, I don’t think claims of recklessness, or impulsiveness will matter.

                Maybe not to you. But they will to just about everyone else in the electorate. Though, admittedly a lot depends on what a person means by “something close to isolationist”.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Stillwater says:

                Do you have any data on that ‘everyone else in the electorate’?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater says:

                It’s so cynical that it invites questions re: his motives.

                You’re making this too complex. Trump hits the radar as a pure sociopath.

                We needed the Kurds before to fight ISIS, but we don’t need them now, and we do need Turkey. The amount of blood he’s willing to spend to save the Kurds is zero because dead Americans creates unhappy Americans. The amount of money he’s willing to spend is low (if it was his personal money then it’d be zero), but potentially pulling America into a war isn’t “low”.

                So no matter what the Kurds did before, their reward/help is a few twitter posts. If that works then Trump looks strong. If it doesn’t then he lost no money, blood, and he’ll lose no sleep over some dead people he doesn’t know. This isn’t his problem. If the Kurds are a useless burden then he’ll treat them like they’re a useless burden.

                This isn’t Trump not doing his job. This isn’t him dropping the ball. This is Trump being Trump and his evaluation is we don’t need to be there. Turkey can handle our interests and if the Kurds die then they die.

                If he’s changing his mind because of public opinion that’s because he doesn’t actually care and he does want to be popular.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

                I hear what you’re saying but I think it rests on the assumption of facts on the ground remaining static.

                What happens for example when a Kurdish faction launches an attack on a target in southeastern Turkey then flees back into Syria? Do we prohibit Turkey from retaliating? What if they refuse to be prohibited? Will we be the arbiters of when they can
                and when they can’t? What about when we green light a Turkish airstrike and they accidentally vaporize a refugee camp? Conversely, do we take responsibility for policing the Kurds ourselves? If so for how long, and what resources will it require? These are straightforward questions about easily foreseeable scenarios that no one wants to take on.

                Before you know it we’re on indefinite trip wire duty, building new permanent installations and stuck with an ownership in the atrocities and counter-atrocities of people we can’t control and barely understand. So while I think the push back is probably mostly well intended it’s also based on not asking the hard questions.

                This also may sound callous but if there was ever a place that needs a Westphalian moment it’s the ME. I think our involvement is one of the primary obstacles to them having it.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to InMD says:

                This also may sound callous but if there was ever a place that needs a Westphalian moment it’s the ME. I think our involvement is one of the primary obstacles to them having it.

                Yes and no. If we weren’t involved we’d see epic level wars that might settle some of their issues… at the expense of epic level war, mass murder on a level we haven’t seen since WW2, and regional nuclear war.

                From the ashes we might get peace, but the world would lose a lot of oil and shed a lot of blood. We’d probably end up with a ruthless dictator and we would NOT be happy with how he treats his people. Then in a few generations we might see some level of reform and such.

                A big part of that Westphalian moment was learning to ignore the church and live together, and imho we’re a century away from the people involved being able to do that. There needs to be a massive cultural shift and part of that shift is the current generation, and everyone they trained, dying off.Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

          No, it isn’t. The case that has been made for intervention in Syria since the civil war began has been (1) supporting the overthrow of Assad by so-called moderate democratic forces which presumably include the Kurds (the obvious tension between this and Kurdish independence ambitions of course goes unremarked upon) and (2) defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

          Up until Donald Trump was elected elite opinion of all stripes favored intervention while popular opinion remained firmly against it. Remember, there were effective decisions not to intervene by the US and UK in 2013, even while the US continued to do so in a limited way anyway with the executive citing the 2001 AUMF. Hang around long enough and the Pentagon will find a way I suppose.

          Since then Assad and Russia have won the war in most of Syria and ISIS was driven out of Iraq, all while at the same time American media has bombarded viewers with pro-intervention propaganda, especially since the apparent use of chemical weapons in Spring 2017. It’s now a partisan football semi-related to the ongoing allegations of a Trump connection to Russia and opinions about Syria correlate with opinions about his administration.

          Not once until the last couple of days have I seen individuals come out of nowhere to make the case for intervening to protect peshmerga fighters from Turkey. Now I’m sure it’s in some of the bullet points in the media who have been itching for a war for the better part of the decade, but the moral outrage from your average partisan is new. It also is mind bogglingly inconsistent with the positions the same people were taking and the GWOT less than a decade ago, that position being the far more intellectually honest and compelling one.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

            Up until Donald Trump was elected elite opinion of all stripes favored intervention while popular opinion remained firmly against it.

            OK. So, let’s go back to the comment I responded to, which sounds more and more like a trick question. Either you think a) that the progressive left *never did* support intervention in Syria or b) you’re conflating progressive left with establishment elite. Maybe you’re trying to make your facts fit a certain narrative?

            Now, you can disagree with what I’m about to say as well, but Obama, Democrats and liberals generally supported an increased US presence in Syria, one advocated by McConnell as well (in his cynical public statements attacking Obama for not doing more anyway) but *only if* McConnell’s GOP agreed to that congressional authorization. McConnell declined to do so. So it seems to me that if anyone can be legitimately accused of playing politics with Syrian intervention it isn’t liberal Dems but the GOP.Report

            • Avatar InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

              This is a fair criticism of my comment so let me clarify who I was/am talking about. I am talking about the Extremely Online Progressive faction, not all Dems, not all of the left. That includes people here, and it includes people on all of my various social media feeds who all of a sudden are all sounding off about a topic where we have had essentially radio silence since spring 2017. As a well educated upper middle class professional in a blue zip code with an addiction to online debate, I could probably have also fairly called this group my peers.

              Correct me if I’m wrong but no candidates in the debates have advocated for this specifically, and as best as I can tell protecting the Kurds from Turkey is not high on the list of priorities of any demographic group. It’s also flatly inconsistent with how the same group of people looked at similar issues through the Bush years, and much of Obamas tenures.

              These people are now fully embracing the cause that elite national politicians of both parties and the MSM have supported since back when the one thing polling worse than Congress was military intervention in Syria, which we of course have still been doing anyway.

              For me, it is a frustrating about face by people who should know better, many of whom have made similar points as the ones I’m making on this discussion. If I seem unduly harsh, maybe it’s because it seems like another one of these episodes where people who I respect and agree with on a great many things seem to have forgotten everything they know in the name of Trump.Report

  12. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    More great news for the Kurds from Wash Po columnist David Ignatius via twitter:

    “A bad situation in Northeast Syria is about to get much worse. Sources tell me that US officials have just informed the Syrian Kurds that Turkey is likely to attack on air and ground in next 24 hours. The US will do nothing. Targets are Tal Abyad and Ras al Ayn…. Ironically Tal Abyad was the main supply route for ISIS in 2014-15 through an open border from Turkey. Turkey refused repeated requests from US to shut border. That’s a big reason why US decided to partner with SDF, which took the town in the summer of 2015. I’m also told that Turkish attack appears coordinated with the Russians. Russian-backed forces are mobilizing to invade the Kurdish area from the south — towards Tabqa and other spots. Meanwhile, ISIS is mobilizing sleeper cells in Raqqa and attacks have taken place tonight. And finally there is the scary issue of the thousands of ISIS detainees and families, who may be breaking out of camps and prisons after Turkish attack–with NO American back-up plan. This is a major disaster coming at us because of Trump’s decisions. Hours left to stop it.”Report

  13. Avatar Stillwater says:

    The attacks in Syria have begun, and David Ignatius reports that the “Turkish attack appears coordinated with the Russians. Russian-backed forces are mobilizing to invade the Kurdish area from the south — towards Tabqa and other spots.”


      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

        Is this really an appropriate time to troll?Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw says:


          apparently it’s an appropriate time to argue that the liberal position is that the USA should put its military in direct conflict with the Russian military, so

          yeah, trolling seems appropriateReport

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to DensityDuck says:

            If your entire political worldview is “The opposite of what liberals want, updated daily”, you will end up in strange places.

            If your worldview changes when facts change, it probably leads you to better places.

            Right now, liberal democracy around the world is under assault from both Russia and China, and losing badly.Report

            • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              I think what we are seeing is that a lot of people just really want to own the libs for reasons that are approaching the pathological. As you note, this is basically the same as being pro-Trump but with one or two noted exceptions, very few people here want to admit they are Trumpists. So we get the anti-anti Trump with a dash of alt-right sympathy dance.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                “I think what we are seeing is that a lot of people just really want to own the libs ”

                what we just really want is for there to

                like i didn’t even think this was a controversial opinion? you know? like i kinda thought there might be a broad-based left-right consensus on the idea? the one issue we could maybe find common ground in? that american intervention in the middle east has done nothing good and a great deal of bad and we’d all have been better off if that just stopped right away and didn’t keep happening?

                i mean if you’re gonna roll with “you broke it you bought it” and “we’ve made promises” and “stay the course” then sure but these are the exact things that Dick Cheney said in the mid-2000s and back then you very forcefully talked about how those ideas were obviously wrong and would always be wrong foreverReport

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Getting the troops out of Syria doesn’t require allowing Turkey to invade, DD. It’s pretty simple, really. And on the other point, your idea that there’s a consensus on getting troops out of the middle east is just false. Plenty of people on the left and the right think the US has a role to play there. So Trump’s not acting on some mandate of the people.

                As one example: Most Americans support sending troops, missile defenses to Saudi ArabiaReport

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Stillwater says:

                There is a hell of a lot of stipulations fleshed out in that link, and one of the major ones is that there is more of a consensus that military deployment comes after things like being attacked which is as good a reason as any to get assets the hell out of these places.

                Also note in there that the majority prefer economic and diplomatic action first.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to JoeSal says:

                This is it in a nutshell. Put something there and eventually it will either be attacked or used, even if only in some broad strategic way. Escalation becomes inevitable. This is basic history and the folks in power really ought to dust off all those copies of the Guns of August JFK allegedly sent everywhere.

                But maybe they don’t because they don’t care about the consequences.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to InMD says:

                It feeds the rich while it buries the poor.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

                Escalation becomes inevitable. This is basic history and the folks in power really ought to dust off all those copies of the Guns of August

                Maybe I misread the book, but I don’t recall Tuchman saying WWI was caused by German tensions rising due to the existence of French military bases. Quite the opposite, in fact.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

                The applicable lesson is that once you deploy two things happen. First, you have opened yourself up to involvement in events beyond your control and chain reactions you have not foreseen. Second you have unleashed bureaucracies supporting those deployments which have plans and interests of their own and that may behave in irrational ways.

                This crisis itself is illustrative in that it was precipitated by the fact that we’ve had forces there for years semi-supporting various actors but without any clear objective or consideration of consequences.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

                InMD, the troops we’re talking about in Syria total (on the high side) 200 boots (100 US soldiers).

                The applicable lesson is that once you deploy two things happen.

                Again, I’d disagree. THe applicable lesson is that once an institution (or multiple institutions in the case of Germany pre-WWI) is consumed with realizing a singular goal even *deployment* can’t be stopped.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater says:

                Question: Turkey is a NATO country. If what Turkey is doing/suspected of going to do is so abhorrent, why is the US the only nation expected to apply pressure and commit troops to restrain Turkey?

                Trump is a dumpster fire and obviously doing this for his own desires*, but there are other NATO nations a lot closer to Turkey, who could be jumping in the fray here.

                *On the plus side, this decision seems to be gutting his support among the GOP, etc.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                This is another complication. The Kurds are not our ally in any official way. Turkey, even with its crappy government is. There has always been a risk that our coordination with peshmerga in different theaters would eventually run us into a conflict with Turkey. Constantly shuffling good guys and bad guys with no apparent principle only made it more likely.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Good news:


              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Jaybird says:

                The EU will pay for the safe zone, one way or another. Previously, they saw a photo of a drowned child, decided they had to do something big about Syrian refugees, and let their own capital cities fill up with migrants coming from just about anywhere. When the EU tried to back away from the flood they’d enabled, Erdogan shook them down to fund refugee camps in Turkey. They might threaten some kind of economic consequences, but probably won’t risk any that might rebound throughout the EU or cause Turkey to open the floodgates again, an action that precipitated Brexit.

                My take is that Erdogan is changing the facts on the ground, and the diplomats in Brussels will carp and whine but do nothing more than send some diplomatic negotiators.

                I know this because I watched Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, which was both a movie about how the Imperial Senate reacted to the Trade Federation’s invasion of Naboo, and a movie about how the EU will respond to Turkey crushing what they consider to be Kurdish terrorists, who happen to be sitting on a huge strip of really nice farmland.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                I’m with Saul on this one. Everyone want’s to own the libs, and that is probably the the one true path to world peace and harmony.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to DensityDuck says:

            No, the liberal view is that Trump shouldn’t have given a greenlight to Russia and Turkey to invade Syria. It’s not a conservative view either. It’s s not Dem view or a Republican view or any other American’s view.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Stillwater says:

              “Trump shouldn’t have given a greenlight to Russia and Turkey to invade Syria”


              broke: “bring the troops home, stop this illegitimate attempt at empire-building!”
              woke: “it’s not forever war, it’s forever peace…”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to DensityDuck says:

                lol ya got nothinReport

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Communist logic rebranded to progressive logic:

                You have to keep killing people until people stop killing people.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to JoeSal says:

                You have to keep killing people until people stop killing people.

                Joe, that’s the logic of Erdogan, Putin and Assad. Now, if you want to say that the GOP and DOnald J Trump and liberal interventionists and etc were *wrong* to back Syrian insurgents to counter Assad and fight (o mighty) ISIS, then just say it. But keep in mind that yer boy Trump has ramped up drone strikes in Afghanistan and is backing Saudi Arabia’s war against the Yemenis. Ergo, according to your reasoning, Trump’s a progressive too.

                But you guys love your memes and talking points.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                But keep in mind that yer boy Trump has ramped up drone strikes in Afghanistan and isbacking Saudi Arabia’s war against the Yemeni’s. Ergo, Trump’s a progressive too.

                Is there a point at which we are allowed to argue “maybe we should stop doing that and get the hell out of there”?

                Because I think we should stop doing that and get the hell out of there.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Is there a point at which we are allowed to argue “maybe we should stop doing that and get the hell out of there”?

                Sure. You could just say it. But linking Sting songs to own the libs is a lot more fun, isn’t it?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                I see it as more of a throwback to a simpler time.

                Anyway, I don’t understand why the phrase Nie mój cyrk, nie moje malpy wouldn’t apply.

                Here, I’ll give you an attack surface: I can understand thinking back in 2002 or 2003 that we should go into the Middle East and clean up the oppressive governments and allow the region to flourish with Democracy, and Whiskey, and Sexy. There were a whole lot of despots in charge and they were all very bad people.

                We got in there and effed everything up but good. Like, to the point where if you asked me “was Saddam better than this?” about Iraq, I’d be forced to say “yeah, I can’t believe it, but he was”. I look at Egypt and Libya and say the same thing.

                Now I am asked to look at Syria and I saw us backing “moderate rebels” in the hopes that they’d overthrow both Assad and ISIS.

                And I do not believe that that would be better than Assad.

                I believe that we have made things worse by our presence.

                We should stop. We should get out of there. Will bad things happen in our wake?

                Yes. We can take responsibility for those rather than the people who perform the acts, if you want.

                But we’re the ones who created the problem and by staying there we aren’t making it better, we’re making it worse.

                And pointing out that the Russians are waiting to fill any vacuum we leave behind strikes me as an opportunity to say “man, we really, really messed that up” rather than “no, that’s a reason to stay!”

                Because it’s not a reason to stay.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                If confessionals is what we’re now reduced to, I’ll take my turn. Pre-Iraq Invasion I not only thought it was a mistake, I was certain that what came after Saddam would be worse than he was.

                Do I get internet points for that? Do I get to own the libs? Do I get to own the GOPers??? I mean, I get something for that, right?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:


                What will you use the points you get on?

                “And that’s why we need to stay in Syria” might not carry the moral weight you hope it will.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                How about this one then: the US shouldn’t switch sides and allow an enemy to attack our allies (and with US armaments, no less)?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                I understand the sentiment.

                What’s the plan? Stay there in Syria?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                The plan is *don’t let Russia and Turkey invade Syria to slaughter our allies*.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                And we do that by…?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Not greenlighting the invasion in the first place.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Stillwater says:

                The circles I watch, they argue that we shouldn’t have entered WW2.

                Days like these, I wonder if these problems would still be here if we would have stayed out of WW2.

                We may have even avoided the whole US progressive problem.

                Maybe even our liberals would have remained classical liberal for the most part.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to JoeSal says:

                We should have stayed out of WWI.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                We shouldn’t even have come here.

                (Am I playing this game right?)Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Jaybird says:

                “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none.”Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Jaybird says:

                Nobody got involved in WW-I because it didn’t become WW-I until sometime in the early 1940’s. Prior to that it was The Great War, and who wouldn’t want to be part of a Great War?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          For what it’s worth, I think you should think of me not as a troll, but as someone who has been alive long enough to remember when John Kerry argued that it was important that we back moderate Rebels in Syria in the hopes that they’d be able to overthrow both Assad and ISIS.

          And sees the attempts of the people who supported such a policy to assert their own moral authority on why we should stay in the Middle East as not having established enough of a footing to deserve more than a horselaugh in response.

          Out of curiosity, what is the endgame that you’re hoping for in Syria, what plan do you support that will get you there, and do you think that it will be different from the plans to do such things that failed in Iraq, Egypt, or Libya?

          (Oh, by the way, failure to engage in these last questions seriously will be interpreted by me as this being an appropriate time to troll.)Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

            Hmmm don’t’ think of you as a troll. Interesting concept. As i’ve watched the conversation here one consistent seems to be the people arguing for Trump’s action don’t seem to actually , you know, defend the actual specific action. Is stay vs. go a simple two position switch. Or are there a hundred different ways to do each. Seems like the later.

            Regarding the specific action Trump has taken we aren’t getting out and he okayed an attack that will likely kill thousands at the minimum. Was there an option to not green light Turkey, and apparently Russian backed groups, to kill. Maybe that is a better option. If you want to defend trump then defend his action not insert some other thing which he isn’t doing. Because you aren’t getting what you want with this no matter how you parse it.Report

            • Avatar InMD in reply to greginak says:

              I defended it above and will continue to. The principle is way bigger than any one presidency.

              I’ll be here criticizing a hypothetical president Biden or Warren (who I will have voted for) for escalation and applauding any step back from the madness, no matter how small and inconsistent with other impossible situations we’ve already put ourselves in.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to InMD says:

                If we are going to get out, which would be good, there are good and bad ways to do it. As i keep noting, Trump isn’t getting us out. He isn’t’ stepping back from any madness, he has increased support for the Saudi’s and bombing in other places. He is not lessening the madness.

                Okaying attacks on our allies is not in any way getting to the place you, or I, would like. I think we should muck about less in other places. But this is not moving one bit towards that. The blood letting is not getting us less entangled.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to greginak says:

                No president is ever going to unilaterally withdraw from all commitments in the ME all at once. Not Trump not anyone. Requiring that standard is to concede the issue. But when its the right move its the right move and if we ever want to start disengaging militarily then we need to stop all this panic everytime we get out of the way, even if its only in one place. There will never be a time when doing so isn’t going to he to the detriment of some third party.

                Speaking of which it’s a real stretch to call the Kurds an ally. Turkey on the other hand is.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

                Turkey is in NATO, so a treaty ally.
                The Kurds did our dirty work for us.

                Does it matter to you that Trump isn’t in fact bringing the boys back home? They’re being redeployed to a different location in Syria.

                From an outfit in the UK: “The Pentagon has confirmed that US troops have been repositioned in northern Syria as Turkey ramped up its efforts in the region by attacking US-backed Kurdish fighters.”

                Add: If the argument here is that allowing Turkey to destroy the only US-backed group in the country will somehow *necessitate* withdrawing the US presence in Syria then I’d like to hear that stated explicitly. Cuz it sure seems like that’s where the discussion is headed.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

                Yes. This is a small bit of positive in a sea of mostly negative. But I take what I can get when I can get it. That’s politics.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to InMD says:

                To your add, it is one less thing for us to police/be in the middle of, nothing more. Working with the Kurds made a dust up with Turkey inevitable. It was very dumb and dangerous on our part and it’s done. But one bad decision doesn’t mean we need to entrench ourselves in their blood feud, which long predates us and which will continue with or without America.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to InMD says:

                One of the problem over the past couple of days is that pundits are breathlessly portraying this as Turkey wiping out the Kurds, often implying that Turkey is going to wipe out all Kurdish forces and take over all of Kurdish territory, while wiping out every single Kurd.

                This kind of overheated rhetoric is a common feature during paranoid wartime reporting. “The Kaiser’s soldiers are eating Dutch babies!” That so many American pundits are reaching such lows shows we’ve already become too psychologically involved in someone else’s dispute, or they just want to slam Trump’s decision as the harbinger of the apocalypse.

                Since August there’s been the Turkish “Peace Corridor” (somebody is getting good at diplo-speak) that extends quite a few miles into much of the border area (5 to 15 miles or so, depending on who you ask and what they claim).

                The Kurds had already withdrawn from most of their outposts that were directly covering the border, and math would say that the average Kurd in that border area is halfway between the Turkish border and the southern edge of the new zone.

                So to escape whatever brutal Turkish genocide the pundits are screaming about, the average Kurdish fighter has to drive about six or seven miles. “Hrm… Should I die here in fire or take a ten minute drive, eat lunch, and glare at the Turks through binoculars?”

                Turkey probably won’t behave all that much worse than usual for them, though they will pound any manned outposts of KDF, Pershmerga, YPK, etc, which they consider current and future threats to Turkey.

                But ethnic cleansing is unlikely because the narrow strip means nobody would actually have to move very far, and because Turkey’s own side of the border is mostly Kurdish anyway. Turkey says they want to move Syrian refugees into the “Peace Corridor”, and many of those refugees are Syrian Kurds, so it really doesn’t make logical sense to wipe out Syrian Kurds so their territory can be occupied by – Syrian Kurds that were living in refugee camps in Turkey.

                And with 14 million proud Kurds living in Turkey, half of whom are inclined to secession, it wouldn’t make much sense for Turkey to give them propaganda fodder by conducting wanton or indiscriminate mayhem.Report

              • Erdogan has said, on tape, publicly, including at the UN LAST WEEK, that Turkey will wipe the SFD and related forces from the area and remove the 1-2 million “refugees” from the area. He even held up a map to show the plan. He has also stated they will deal with terrorist. Terrorist will mean anyone they want to kill. Taking a murderous thug dictator at his own words isn’t “overheated rhetoric” just because it interrupts your preferred version of world events. Your comment here is ridiculous.

                And there are many different types of Kurds. There are 3 primary groups divided by dialect and many sub-groups among the diaspora. The amount “Currently living in Turkey” is utterly irrelevant. Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

                Turkey has had the terrorism problem for awhile, here is a file from 1985:


                “The PKK moreover, models itself on the PLO and Armenian terrorist groups and undertakes violence purely for psychological effect.”

                This has its roots in Marxism and leftism, its no mystery the progressive MSM is in such a up roar, as these are their ideological fellowship.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to JoeSal says:

                There is probably a politically incorrect lesson to be learned here about assimilation and social truth, but that’s a topic for another time.Report

              • I’ll try this one more time, going slowly and using small words: Erdogan will just deem whoever they want to kill and eliminate as “terrorist”. The people about to be massacred’s ideology is not relevant to the conversation, and that you make it a swipe about US media just reveals the lens you are viewing this whole thing through. You want to continue with pro-Turkish propaganda since it fits what you want to believe have at it, but admit that is what it is.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

                Are you saying that Kurdish terrorism doesn’t exist?
                (just to make the premise clear here)Report

              • It does, and is not a viable premise, excuse, or have much of anything to do with what is currently occurring unless you are just hellbent on excusing the inexcusable here.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

                So it DOES exist. wooo, lawd, I thought we were in a post modernist bubble for a minute.

                Now if it matters or not, I don’t give much weight to american sentiments. From figures I see they had previously experienced 30 attacks in a 18 month stretch killing approx.1000 people.

                Your saying I’m excusing, I’m maybe saying your excusing, are we at the point of just agreeing to disagree yet?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to JoeSal says:

                For the record, if the US government were to handle our White Supremacist terrorists the way Erdogan handles the Kurdish ones I would furrow my brow and wring my hands appropriately.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Yeah, I noticed the breech in logic here as Andrew would be arguing Charlottesville didn’t matter.

                I know you guys all too well for that to hold together.Report

              • I agree that you seem very happy with yourself for properly deploying Erdogan’s red herring of “we are fighting terrorist!!!” for the atrocities he is about to commit against terrorist and non-terrorist alike, plans 30+ years in the making. Congratulations on coming down on the side of supporting a genocidal madman for the sake of trying to win an argument.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

                I’m not really trying to win a argument. Maybe, just maybe these Kurds aren’t the angels the left has been depicting.

                And it’s a little odd, your quick to point out the bodies from the madmen, but not the bodies from the Marxists.

                I know you will likely never understand this, but if the Kurds were completely slaughtered, i would attribute those deaths to the marxism that existed within their population. Would that be fair? Probably not, but what is the answer to marxist infestations? Maybe that’s a question that needs to be answered.Report

              • You make it quite clear how you can easily find common cause with Erdogan: You are all for wiping out those you find unfit to live, so of course you find a reason for him to do so here. Very clarifying.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

                I’m kind of a live and let live guy, i haven’t met any marxists like that.

                It’s part of the two freedoms problem.

                It will likely cost this country 58 million before it’s over.

                I guess this is why i’m rather callous to what you want me to be empathetic about.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to JoeSal says:

                Let me also add that there have been madmen 90 miles off the Florida coast for decades, who have killed people by the thousands. There are madmen in Venezuela who have been killing people by the thousands. There are madmen in Nicaragua who have been killing people by the thousands.

                It’s really strange that we have to go half way around the world to find a madman worthy of our troops.

                It’s like Marxist dictator lives matter more than others.

                So I find you pointing at this one and having double dipped extra outrage kind of hollow.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

                So where is he going to move those refugees to? He can’t drive them south into the desert because he doesn’t control that. He can’t send them to Iraq because Iraq isn’t going to take them. He can’t send them west because he doesn’t control that either. Europe is not going to accept refugees that a pain-in-their-side willfully displaced. He essentially takes ownership of their well-being once he rolls in.

                And since he is a quasi-European country, the European press will probably be on the ground to broadcast whatever he does, along with the local folks posting videos.Report

              • Your answering your own silly question thereReport

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to George Turner says:

                Ha, if you can find any reporters willing to go to Turkey.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Stillwater says:

                Can Trump fire the Pentagon?

                asking for a friendReport

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to JoeSal says:

                Wait. You’re suggesting that Trump has the power to overrule the Pentagon on the current policy regarding the Kurds and the War on Terrah but *doesn’t* have the power to bring 100 boys back home?

                Christ, you’re a genius!Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Stillwater says:

                Didn’t suggest that at all, what I was considering is that the folks in the Pentagon probably spent hours hyperventilating and barking weird stuff at the sky until someone conceded to leaving a handful of troops in place.

                I’m all in for pink slips if that’s the case.

                and christ is a genius, just FTRReport

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to JoeSal says:

                and christ is a genius, just FTR

                I figured being the son of God included a pretty sweet benefit packageReport

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Stillwater says:

                Apparently the benefit package didn’t include protection against Italian troops. The Romans and Israelis had been going at each other for a long time, and getting in the middle of that mess really wouldn’t do anything to advance the interests of the Heavenly Kingdom. So even though the Hebrews had been extremely loyal, a wise father knows when to cut his losses instead of trying to hold back the inevitable outcome of a lopsided military imbalance, one where the dominant power is paranoid are about someone inciting a rebellion.

                The occupations, ground battles, and tribal spats are ephemeral. Victory is fleeting and the occupiers get overextended and collapse. The real battle is for hearts and minds, played out on a larger canvas and spanning eons.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

              I’m not defending Trump. I think that he should be impeached and if Congress doesn’t do it then they deserve another 5 years of him. (I will say that he doesn’t offend me half as much as he seems to offend others here.)

              Regarding the specific action Trump has taken we aren’t getting out and he okayed an attack that will likely kill thousands at the minimum. Was there an option to not green light Turkey, and apparently Russian backed groups, to kill.

              I imagine that there might have been. But getting out of there is, effectively, a green light for the region and I don’t understand why it is our responsibility to be the World Police.

              We certainly don’t have the moral authority to be the World Police. We don’t have an unlimited budget. We don’t have a demonstrated track record of doing a good job.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                We aren’t’ getting out. At most we are redeploying 100 SF to a different part of Syria. Budget? how much money are we saving by having 100 SF stationed in a different part of Syria. I’m guessing not all that much.

                Hell we could have probably left one Sergent with a cell phone in the kurdish area and keep telling Turkey to abide by their agreement to keep the hell out and that would have prevented this.

                World police? More obfuscation. We had been working with the Kurds to take down their defenses in agreement with the Turks, then turn around and okay an attack. You think this is good, then defend that, not “world police” whatever that is supposed to mean in this precise situation.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Here’s a blast from the past:


            • Avatar JoeSal in reply to greginak says:

              Serious question, how would you have done it with a degree of certainty that all the troops would be out within weeks?Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to JoeSal says:

                Easy. I would never have told Turkey they had a green light to go in. It’s really that simple. Turkey-No, sorry, not sorry. We are guaranteeing the Kurds safety based on the agreement they signed. Turkey is only going in because Trump said they could. So in the great game of Red Light, Green Light. I say Red Light.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to greginak says:

                Turkey is only going in because Trump said they could.

                This may be assuming a MUCH greater level of control than we have.

                According to wiki, in the last 5 years Turkey has lost between one and ten thousand soldiers, one to two thousand civilians, and they’ve had 200k to 500k refugees (displaced) civilians.

                The PKK and associated groups has lost between two and seven thousand soldiers.

                There’s an argument that this is already an active shooting war and the level of violence is increasing. At some point Turkey starts giving the US warnings that our troops are in harm’s way and while they’ll try to shoot around them, no guarantees.

                At that point Trump needs to figure out whether or not he’s willing to go to war with Turkey over the Kurds, and whether or not it’d be easier to just move our guys.

                And that might be exactly what we’re seeing now.


            • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to greginak says:

              I’ll also add that I think what some of the folks here (I’ll only incriminate myself) are trying to do it to *prevent* temporary policy moments from becoming Liberal (or conservative) fetishes. So, the opposite of what Saul thinks is happening.

              I’m afraid that folks like Saul are making the Kurds a Talisman of some *unrelated* proxy fight over Trump.

              We can say that Trump’s Syria policy is so poorly executed that he’s an embarrassment as a President (for not having the political skills to effect any of his preferred policies at the Pentagon)… but that even as we lament his inept moves, none of us should make pwning Trump the reason for supporting a Greater Kurdistan.

              What would impress me, would be a consistent plan that acknowledges that we’re currently holding incompatible salients in the Middle East that need careful devolution so as to least destabilize the region. That’s not what the “Libs” are offering; any time your plans are word for word the same as Lindsey Grahams, one should step back and reconsider.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Nobody has a great plan for what to do in that area. Nobody even had a good plan. It’s a cluster. I don’tg’ see libs offering any grand plan here, just saying stabbing the Kurds in the back like this is a terrible idea.

                Graham is relibly full of shite but even he can be correct if the entire subject is “lets not okay some light slaughter.” To much of politics now is based on if X says this then it must be bad.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to greginak says:

                That isn’t Graham’s position, nor, really, the position of the “Libs” whom I’m seeing rushing to make a talisman of the Kurds.

                I’m not even sure we’re stabbing them in the back… stabbing them in the front, maybe. No one, certainly not any Kurds, had any particular illusion that Kurdish zones in Syria were going to be safeguarded for any length of time by the US. Certainly not with 200 boots. Which begs the question whether we sold low or avoided having our bluff called anyway.

                We also tend to imagine that “The Kurds” are a single nation with a single objective and leadership… that’s not even remotely the case… so here we’re talking about Syrians… not “the Kurds” we’re still “protecting” in Iraq.

                But this is the point… critique the method, challenge the strategy, but whatever we do, let’s not make support for a Greater Kurdistan some sort of litmus test. Let’s keep litmus tests for important things like Chik-fil-A and the NBA.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Realism is going to come back and nobody will understand why.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

                I believe no one would understand why, but not that its going to come back. It costs us so little not to be.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

                I dunno. I keep having whiplash from the Better-Than-Realism folks. I mean, here:

                Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rand Paul, Ilhan Omar, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter to Trump urging the president to remove US troops form Syria


              • Avatar greginak in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Well no the boots on the ground weren’t the safeguard. We are moving them so they don’t get killed in the attack Trump gave the okay to. That is the problem. The kurdish area was safe premised on our guarantee and trump just said F it, go on a kill them. There was never a likely greater kurdistan, but that isn’t relevant to letting these guys get killed. If we could have made a GK we would have done it a while ago.Report

  14. Avatar Stillwater says:

    This is Interesting and unexpected.

    Ross Douthat on Trump abandoning the Kurds:

    “I don’t want to overstate this, all the usual caveats apply, but the Kurdish business threatens part of his core support in a way that’s unique among Trumpian follies and outrages.”Report

  15. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    More of Donald Trump “getting America out of the Mideast”

    U.S. to send additional troops to Saudi Arabia to boost defenses against Iran

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Oh, and Turkey managed to bomb US troops, and allow ISIS fighters to escape.


      • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        Those damned young turks!Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to JoeSal says:

          Yer boy sure looks like a genius getting those troops out before the invasion, amirite? Wait….Report

          • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Stillwater says:

            That’s what happens if you fail to listen the sane folks on OT. You get your fit blown to fit.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to JoeSal says:

              That’s what happens if you fail to listen the sane folks on OT.

              What? Trump will light your ass on fire?

              Sorry, you just sounded like Favre in the Super Troopers Charlie Rich skit.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Stillwater says:

                Jus sayin’Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to JoeSal says:

                So you’re still super happy with Trump for pulling the troops out Syria, right?Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Stillwater says:

                Are you doing that Chip thing, where two days later the world is an entire mystery again?

                You guys know where that comes from yes?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to JoeSal says:

                Oh, I was just recalling your praise of Trump for pulling out the troops followed by the slightly sociopathic joke about the young Turks bombing the troops he left behind and trying to square them up.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Hmmm. I just read a report from officials in Syria that Turkey is deliberately targeting US bases. It’s a damn shame Trump couldn’t have talked to Erdogan about this before he greenlit the invasion. I guess he was busy or something. An oversight.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Stillwater says:

                Why just a couple days ago some folks here were talking about the down side of having assets in the ME.

                But today, today that is a complete mystery once again.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to JoeSal says:

                Well, sure. When POTUS allows an invading army to bomb US bases no one’s safe!Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Stillwater says:

                A base getting bombed in the middle east is what they call thursday over there.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to JoeSal says:

                “Welp, if the US never had troops in Syria the Commander in Chief couldn’t betray them by greenlighting a foreign country’s attack on US bases.”Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                “Yes Ma’am, here is a shoebox with what’s left of your husband, a folded American flag*, and a red MAGA hat**”

                * Flag made in China
                **Retail price of hat deducted from VA benefits***
                *** VA benefits subject to Non Disclosure Agreement.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                If there was just some president that could have avoided this whole clusterfish to start with.

                What was that guys name…think it started with a O…….nah, complete mystery……Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to JoeSal says:


              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Stillwater says:

                I will leave to you two fellas to hug it out. I’m out for the night.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to JoeSal says:

                Wait, you don’t want to talk about how wonderful Trump’s withdrawal of US troops from Syria is anymore? But you were so excited about it…Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Stillwater says:

                Should I take third shift?

                One of the problems in these intractable regions is that we’re the only ones with any weight who think the end goal is democracy, whiskey, sexy. Everybody else is just hoping to take a breather before positioning themselves to finally avenge whatever happened a few centuries ago, or to dig and stop those who’ll be coming for them. We don’t really want to stick around to become a part of that.

                Turkey, always worrying that many of their own Kurds are going to rebel (because they do), have to wonder what all those Kurdish forces are going to do with all their weapons and training once they run out of jihadist targets if Assad doesn’t keep them occupied with survival. They’ll probably decide that it’s a good time to attack Turkey.

                The Syrian governments forces will eventually start reclaiming the Sunni territories that were liberated by Kurds who aren’t from those areas, and the strip of Kurdish dominated space is going to get a lot narrower. At some point they’ll have to come to terms, possibly involving lots of violence, and we don’t want to be in direct ground combat with Syrian government forces, Turkey-sponsored Syrian Sunni forces, or Russian forces, especially if we’d be the ones allied to various Kurdish communist revolutionary groups.

                We helped out defeating ISIS when our help was critical, but we aren’t going to like how this movie ends and we don’t want to own the final outcome, so we should walk out in the middle of it.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

                Joe left early, and frankly, what with Turkey bombing US bases and US troops mobilizing to Saudi Arabia and thousands of ISIS terrorists being released into the wilds and the hint of treachery by our POTUS, maybe he’s just exhausted by all the winning. You’re a good sport to pick up the ball and start running.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Stillwater says:

                The EC had a choice to live up to dealing with the ISIS prisoners the easy way. The didn’t, and it appeared by default that America was about to be forced to fit the bill for that with no end in sight.

                Now the EC has to deal with Turkey on the matter, or all their beloved jihad warriors that came from Europe will be going back to Europe.

                That Obama would get us in a conflict where our soldiers would become affectionate for communist rebels was likely a planned as well.

                Eventually O’Sullivans law will start working its way through the military. There have been plenty of soldiers who have defected because of this, and there will be many more.

                Also maybe the Pentagon should heed when the commander in chief is basically saying ‘danger close’ on a particular piece of ME acerage, maybe take it serious.

                But I know you fellas have a particular disdain for Trump, I get it, I saw Obama, maybe not the man himself, but his philosophy and the people around him in the same light.

                I also get that there are maybe 3 or 4 people here that provide backpressure against the notion that everything Trump does is wrong.

                I also readily acknowledge that I only like thin slices of what he does. There are just as many slices that I don’t like, but compared to Obama which offered no ‘good’ slices, Trump is better even if he is the person he is.

                Plus maybe, just maybe he will give everyone who is pro-government just a little taste of how bad this stuff can go wrong.

                But that would take reflection that probably doesn’t exist.

                So instead of Trump being ‘my boy’ I would probably claim him as a lesson untaught.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to JoeSal says:

                Eventually O’Sullivans law will start working its way through the military.

                If we consider the military a “conservative” organization then O’Sullivan already applies.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Dark Matter says:

                One could make the argument that all social constructs are a form of leftism upon construction, but very few people would likely view it that way.

                One thing I keep hearing the army teaching is to not be an individual.

                George Washingtons troops knew fighting techniques that were 20 years ahead of what Washington typically demanded in his formations.

                We have had this particular problem since the nation was formed.

                That we have a standing army that ‘needs things to do’, has been no mystery in the founding either. We were supposed to avoid this very thing.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to George Turner says:

                Good post.Report