Republican and Democrat war hawks who are upset about Trump wanting to give up the job as the world’s copper on the beat are now allying with anti-war demonstrators who would normally be against foreign wars, if only it wasn’t Trump who wanted to pull out.
“Does the USA want to be the Policeman of the Middle East, getting NOTHING but spending precious lives and trillions of dollars protecting others who, in almost all cases, do not appreciate what we are doing?” Trump tweeted. “Do we want to be there forever? Time for others to finally fight.”
Change “Policeman of the Middle East” to “Policeman of Europe” and you can see his decision to pull out is consistent. The people who want your help don’t want to pay for it and they mock you anyway.
When Putin was asked if he thought that U.S. troops could remain in Syria in some other form Putin pointed out that Obama’s withdrawal from Afghanistan didn’t result in the troops all going home.
“The United States have been present in, say, Afghanistan, for how long? Seventeen years, and every year they talk about withdrawing the troops. But they are still there.”
Trump acts quickly – it was mere hours after Putin’s remarks about that the Washington Post reported that Trump had ordered a significant drawdown of troops from Afghanistan, too.
It is a fair bet that Mattis submitted his letter of resignation when Trump made it clear the troops were packing. Mattis wrote that Trump has a “right to have a Secretary of Defence whose views are better aligned” with Trump’s.
Well, now, that letter makes it clear that Mattis favours America playing the role of world Policeman.
So what do we have here? It looks mighty like the President Truman showdown with General MacArthur. MacArthur wanted to extend the Korean war into China and knock out the Chinese Communists. Truman was against it. Both men put up very respectable reasons for their position.
Truman had the power to sack, Mattis is cooler than MacArthur or smarter, certainly enough to resign before he forced Trump’s hand. His analysis was that Trump was adamant.
Mattis had it coming, you have to say. It is one thing to talk up the importance of maintaining NATO, but when his Commander in Chief’s attitude was OK, Fine, fine but the bloody Europeans could pay for the presence of US troops if they want them there. Warfare has changed utterly since 1945.
Mattis also pursued a consistently anti-Russia line, pushing for an antagonistic relationship with Moscow and its allies in Beijing at every point especially in withdrawing from the nuclear pact set up by Reagan and Gorbachev.
Worst of all perhaps was wanting to stay in Syria in the same way that the US stayed in Europe. It was as thought there was to be a METO – Middle East Treaty Organisation running simultaneously wit NATO.
All that said, you have to feel for the Kurds and hope that Trump has taken them into consideration. It would do no harm to station troops is Kurdistan in a on-the-ground variation of the no-fly zone the whole world imposed on Saddam Hussein. With two insane countries like Turkey and Iran both hating the Kurds there is a lot of worry about that. On the other hand Trump has been arming the Kurds for some time now.
Furthermore the partnership of the crazed Erdogan with the Mad Mullahs has gone ahead while the US was over in the Middle East and it is doubtful if pulling out of Syria will make much difference.
Though it will make a staggering difference to the budget; what he saves there would easily pay for the Mexico wall.
Then again Israel and the Kurds have been in an alliance for years and Trump might have in mind his own proxy war arming Israel to help the Kurds.
Of course, if one believes that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the disastrous meddling in Syria and Egypt and Libya has been thundering successes which killed hundreds of thousands without the national boundaries altering by one inch, then the troops should stay in Syria.
Mattis probably does believe all this and more, after all it was he as a senior army general, he commanded marines during the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003.
In truth, the fact is that Generals prepare strategies and tactics for war, it is the people we elect who prepare strategies for peace – there are a lot more variables to winning the peace than winning a war.
The ABC and Fairfax and Washington Post and the BBC and NY TImes are with Mattis – it’s a blow to world order and foolish and impetuous and reckless and all the other synonyms of stupid and it is better to stay a bit longer and kill a few more and it will end.
Mattis made a first rate Secretary of Defence, I am sorry to see him go.
But the world shouldn’t give a toss. At best, it was a 50/50 position to stay on fighting in the Middle East – at best.