Trump’s Betrayal of the Kurds is Sickening to U.S. Soldiers

This op-ed piece by David Ignatius in the Washington Post today does a much better job of making the points that I was trying to get to yesterday. After reading it I was also struck by how similar were my feelings and those of my Army colleagues who has fought with me over the years in Vietnam to those expressed by current Army veterans of the war in Syria. In 1975 when I watched the evacuation of Saigon on TV from my home in San Francisco California, particularly the harrowing evacuation by helicopter from the roof of the US Embassy in Saigon, I was struck by an overwhelming feeling of failure, depression and that we had worked so hard, for so long, with such an expenditure of blood, for nothing. That, in the end, it was all a waste of effort and lives. I have not yet personally talked with any of the officers that I know who have served in Syria, but I expect their feelings to be similar to those of us who were in Vietnam.

Trumps betrayal of the Kurds is sickening to US soldiers

In Syria, Turkey Will Pay the Price for an Imperfect Buffer

This is another excellent analysis by Stratfor of the potential downstream consequences of what seems to me the Administrations incredibly naïve move to withdraw our limited military support from our Kurdish allies, the SDF.

As you may have read today, one of these consequences has already occurred, the completed negotiations between the SDF and Syria have seen Syrian troops began to move into the northeastern part of that country. I don’t know why it astonishes me anymore that our leadership in Washington continues to fail to grasp that actions have more than just short-term consequences and that when we pull out of an area, when any nation withdraws it forces from an area, the vacuum created will draw others in and the results may include chaos which can quickly spin out of control. We withdrew our troops from around the world after World War II, we did in Vietnam, we did it after helping to defeat the Soviets in the Afghan war of 1979 to 1989, we did it in Iraq in 2010 which led to the amazing success of Isis and we just done it again and Syria. In every one of these cases the unintended results were negative for us and the world.

As you know, the situation on the ground in Syria, even with our and our coalition partners successes against ISIS, has been complicated by the large numbers of players that have also moved into the region. Among those players and still present on the ground or conducting strikes from the air in Syrian are the Syrian military forces of Bashir al-Assad and his Soviet, Iranian, and Hezbollah allies; Israel’s IDF; the Turkish military; various Kurdish militia forces including our former allies the SDF; numerous terrorist groups allied to one or another of the major powers; ISIS still present in a significantly reduced capacity; and various covert intelligence and irregular military units supported by monies and logistical supplies from Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States.
With our withdrawal there has been a realignment of players which cannot possibly be seen as positive from the United States point of view. Our ally, the SDF, has been forced to seek support from our former adversary, the al-Assad government. Adding to that unfortunate event is the freeing of a currently unknown number of ISIS terrorists into that troubled region and beyond. And if that wasn’t enough bad news the Administration, Congress, the European Union are all considering harsh sanctions on Turkey, which will likely push them to unanticipated, negative counter measures. It’s difficult for me to see an upside to the Administrations decisions in Syria and I’ve seen little so far on any positive reasons the administration might’ve had to order the withdrawal other than to get American troops out of Syria and let the Kurds fight Turkey if they wish for a state of their own.
You and I no longer have access to classified intelligence on what may have prompted the administrations recent decisions to remove our military support from the SDF, but I doubt there’s much classified data relating to those decision that’s not also in the public domain and which we have been able to read about over the past 2 to 3 weeks. The real problem for me with our decision to withdraw military forces Syria, beyond the message it sends about US credibility and loyalty to proven allies, is that it will likely create more refugees from that region for the world, particularly Europe, to absorb. There is also the real potential that a miscue by any of the various players on the ground in Syria could lead to escalated levels of combat between them and a future call for the US and the UN to go back in to stabilize the situation, as we had to do following the incredible growth and violence of ISIS in 2014.
Sorry if this sounds like a rant, but many of you know I’ve been following these events for years and some know of my personal connection to that region. I would love to hear your views on the subject and if you choose to do so please let me know if you would also be willing for me to forward them to our colleagues on this distribution list.