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Does anyone know Trump’s goal in Syria?

by Eric Ferguson on April 20, 2018 · 1 comment

Do the general dress Trump like this to make him feel more manly when sitting in front of the Big Board?

Do the generals dress Trump like this to make him feel more manly when sitting in front of the Big Board (that’s a Doctor Strangelove reference)?

When I ask if anyone knows Trump’s goal in Syria, that begs the question, does Trump know? Don’t think too hard. The fact Trump hasn’t laid out the goal strongly suggests he has no idea. We might also gather that as most likely because this is Trump. Remember Trump’s Razor: the stupidest explanation is most likely to be right. That causes me to conclude the fake field marshall hasn’t the first clue.

 

Sure, you can make guesses as to the goal in Syria. Feel free. Say whatever you infer the goal to be, but I have my response already: you’re inferring, so you don’t really know (though FWIW, this seems plausible, that #RPOTUS wants to make it look like his tweets mean something, and maybe keep Fox New viewers happy).

 

Likewise, feel free to say what the goal of the US in Syria could be or should be, but unless you have a guest appearance booked on Fox&Friends, you don’t actually get a voice.

 

Say what you will about Bush’s invasion of Iraq, we knew that the stated goals were. We may have suspected those weren’t all the goals, but just as far as dealing with a common set of facts, we at least knew the stated goals. It becomes possible to look at the strategy and whether it makes sense given the goal, whether it’s being carried out the best way, what the blowback might be … wow, remember those heady days when questions were so substantive? Oh right, bushies, like trumpers, didn’t listen to anyone outside the tribe. Well just great, we’re at risk of a bigger war breaking out and it’s getting not even the little thought Bush gave to invading Iraq. Could the Trump administration at least give it as much thought as Bush gave the Iraq sales campaign?

 

This next bit shouldn’t need writing unless the reader is an idiot (Hello Donald!) but Syria is fiendishly complicated. You need to know the pre-war background, the Arab Spring protests of 2011 and how they turned into war in Syria, how Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Turkey have intervened, how rebels groups formed, aligned, divided, fought the government and fought each other, the spread of ISIL, how bordering countries are affected and might be willing to do about it, and what each party inside and outside the country want and are willing and able to do to get it.

 

So not only are we led by a fool who can be provoked by a tweet, but if that NYMAG story is right, can be provoked by his own tweet.
 
The closest thing to a strategy — which, again, we can’t evaluate without knowing the goal a strategy is meant to achieve — is the idea to have Arab nations put their soldiers into Syria to prevent the government taking the areas it doesn’t yet hold. If the blow-things-up-even-bigger ramifications aren’t obvious to you, you should apply for a job in the Trump administration. Here are some questions which, if you can’t answer, you really shouldn’t be making foreign policy in the Middle East:
 

  • What is the difference between Sunni and Shiite?
  • Can you correctly identify which sect each party in Syria — government, rebel, and foreign — belongs to?
  • Are you aware of the Sunni-Shiite cold war? If not, there’s an excellent chance you know bugger-all about the war/humanitarian disaster in Yemen as well.
  • Can you name the four countries across which the Kurds are divided?
  • Do you get why those countries matter in terms of Syria?
  • Which countries border Syria? Looking at a map is not cheating, but should in fact be a regular part of your thought process.
  • How did the Syrian government respond to the Arab Spring? That’s really asking how the war started.
  • War refugees have things tougher than you have ever had or likely even imagined, so why are you such a horrible person as to hate them? I guess that’s less a policy question, and more of a “WTF is wrong with you” question.

 
Comments
 
From Mac Hall: Please add to your list of questions,
Where are ISIS fighters and how many are presently based in Syria ?
And if they have left Syria, where are they ?
 
As Members of Congress should know, the liberation of Mosul and Raqqa are major victories for anti-ISIS forces, but the terrorist group is far from defeated, even in the region. Many jihadis not killed on the battlefield have chosen to hide, rearm, and recuperate-going underground for a period before reemerging to fight the next
phase of the insurgency. Reports about the current location of remaining ISIS fighters vary. While there is evidence that some fighters are returning to their home countries, other reports indicate that fighters moved into Syria’s Idlib province … but where are they now?
 
Regarding the Trump suggestion, which you cited — to have other countries in the region offer support … leads to a question that should tell you how informed the candidate is : Not “what’s the difference between Sunni and Shiite” but “Should there be any concern who supports Jaysh al-Islam (Saudi Arabia) or Ahrar al-Sham (Turkey) ?” Now Trump may not have a Syria strategy, but Assad had made the reconquest of Eastern Ghouta a strategic goal. The Jaysh al-Islam rebel group was in control of Douma in Eastern Ghouta. (FYI : At the start of the year Eastern Ghouta was a sprawling semi-rural area just east of Damascus, home to almost 400,000 inhabitants. The Syrian government backed by Russian forces launched a massive assault on February 18 to retake the area, which had been out of regime control since 2012. The intense bombardment killed some 1,700 civilians according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, and pulverized the area, reducing many neighborhoods to rubble.) On April 15th, an Syrian Arab Army spokesman said “Areas of Eastern Ghouta in rural Damascus have been fully cleansed of terrorism,” as the rebels of Jaish Al-Islam moved into Jarablus in northern Syria in a deal with government.
 
IMO, the war is over … the Russians and Assad have won the civil war … and ya gotta give credit to Trump … after all, it was reported in July 2017 that Trump decided to halt a covert CIA program to arm and train rebels fighting al-Assad’s regime in Syria, a move Russia has long pushed for it, and reported discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 7. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted: “If this is true, a big loss for: 1) Syrians who have been relentlessly attacked by Assad 2) Our Arab partners 3) US standing in the Middle East.”
 
Yep, give Trump credit … the “dealmaker”, capitulated to Vladimir Putin, providing complete surrender to Russian interests. Trump never has had a Syria plan … but the threat is really from the ISIS fighters … and we don’t know where they are mobilizing … and Trump doesn’t have a clue.
 

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