Turkey Ignores Trump’s “Unmatched Wisdom”

Turkey Ignores Trump’s “Unmatched Wisdom”

Turkey Ignores Trump’s “Unmatched Wisdom”

In news that surprises nobody but Trump, the primarily Kurdish SDF in northern Syria are being attacked by Turkey. If only Trump had advisors who could offer insight into the importance of supporting allies…. Oh wait, he “fired” Mattis for telling him the drawdown was a terrible idea. Good thing Trump sent out a Twitter warning to Turkey. I’m sure they will listen….Meanwhile, prepare for the ISIS fighters to escape prison and wreak havoc. 

His “Great Unmatched Wisdom” is Hollow Threats

As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).”

~Donald Trump, POTUS 10/07/19 via Twitter

At what point will your great, and unmatched, wisdom allow you to admit this is a bad idea? Will it be after Turkey annihilates the SDF, and any collateral civilians in the border towns? Maybe when the ISIS prisoners are running free because their guards are now forced to defend their towns and families? Perhaps it will be when one of the thousands of prisoners kills over 3,000 people and yet again changes the American landscape? Is your statement, “Well, they’re going to be escaping to Europe”, a legitimate rationale in your brain? We have allies in Europe. We also have these things called airplanes. You may have heard of them…? They fly into NYC, and Washington DC daily. Europe at risk, is America at risk. Our security is tied, our economies are intertwined.

Mr. President, you done messed up. Your predecessor never should have gotten the US into Syria, but you should have recognized that relocating the remaining small forces put a target on the SDF. US administrations have an abysmal history of supporting the goals of bad regimes in the Middle East. Unfortunately, your “great wisdom” led you down the same path as your predecessor. What should have been an opportunity to negotiate a resolution between two opposing US allies, instead became a green light for the regional Goliath to attack David. From the NYT,

“Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” the White House said in a statement released just before 11 p.m. in Washington. “The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”

Sir, you can pound your chest and boast about how you got the US out of the Syrian swamp, but at what cost? And how far down the road are we going to suffer from the fallout?

Wisdom is Gained in Listening to Those With Dissenting Opinions and More Experience

A steadfast opponent to the original US forces drawback, former SecDef James Mattis, resigned after it was announced last year that the US troops were leaving Syria.

My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in the issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conductive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solitary of our alliances.”

Resignation, SecDef James Mattis

If one of the most respected military leaders, with decades of experience in the combat theater, suggests that something is a bad idea… He’s probably well founded in his assertion. A wise leader exercises a bit of intellectual curiosity, and seeks knowledge in dissenting opinion. The wise leader doesn’t dismiss the dissenter, and mar his reputation. Let me rephrase, a wise leader would not do that…. a petty leader, capricious in action and bereft of character absolutely does this.

The Jerusalem Post states it best,

Never before in history has the US worked with a group and then opened the skies to have another US ally bomb and destroy it. On October 9, the Syrian Democratic Forces, a group of mostly Kurdish fighters who fought ISIS for five years and helped create a peaceful and stable area in northeast Syria, were bombed and bombarded by Turkey as US forces withdrew and watched.”

Alliances are hard to forge and, for some, easy to break. Undermining this alliance may garner you temporary political gains at home, but it’s at a cost to our reputation with allies across the world. We need allies, Mr. President. China, Russia, Iran, ISIS, etc all relish our demise. Their reasons and methods are diverse, but we cannot hold them off without allies. You want security from insane Islamists, help the people with skin in the game who are focused on eradicating them. Alliances are necessary for securing our position. Breaking those bonds weakens our reputation with future allies.

Tweets like this certainly don’t encourage future alliances. Note the date. This tweet makes it look like the SDF was set up as an easy target.

 

Congratulations Mr. President, You’re Now Yoko Ono

You both will forever be remembered for breaking up the “Beatles”! Sadly, her action has greater impact and consequence than yours. Though your Tweet implies otherwise. BTW, Sir, it’s not “Beetles”…. those are insects. Though I suspect you will play off the mistake as intentional when it’s pointed out…

“In case the Kurds or Turkey lose control, the United States has already taken the 2 ISIS militants tied to beheadings in Syria, known as the Beetles, out of that country and into a secure location controlled by the U.S. They are the worst of the worst!”

Worst of the worst… You mean the others are bad too? Then why are we abandoning the ally who is maintaining the jail? Worse, we are abandoning them to a country without a plan to secure these “worst” people. At least that’s what the Lead IG reported to congress this year,

The Kurds, part of the U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces, control facilities holding about 11,000 ISIS detainees across northern Syria. They also run a camp for internally displaced persons known as al-Hol, in northeastern Syria, that holds nearly 70,000 people. Among them are thousands of ISIS family members”

From the Washington Examiner,

“I think it’s nearly impossible for an orderly transfer of these ISIS detention facilities from the SDF to Turkey,” Aykan Erdemir, a former Turkish lawmaker told the Washington Examiner. “Some of these detention centers are deep south, so it wouldn’t be possible for Turkish forces to reach there. Second, the more the fighting between SDF and Turkish troops and proxies intensifies, the less these detention facilities will be a priority for either of the actors involved.”

Last December I took some heat for a post I wrote about the initial withdrawal, and potential complications. I cited Defense One, and other legitimate “think tank” policy wonk sources. None of the information we have today is particularly new or surprising. Mr. President, please put down your smart phone, holding the device doesn’t impart intelligence. Pull your thumbs off Twitter and out of your ass. Read a threat analysis. If you don’t want to read, hire a voice actor to record a “brief on tape”! Trust me, they make everything sound interesting.

Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons License: Public Domain Image Cropped: 400×400

 

Written by

"CC" to her friends, she's dreaming of warm weather and open spaces. She's lived all over the USA and overseas. These opportunities are great, but she believes that the USA is the most amazing country, and we are so fortunate to have our Constitution and Bill of Rights. She's always happy to have a debate, so long as the participants understand "Feelings are NOT facts". Bring a fact based viewpoint, a good dose of courtesy (Respect is earned, Courtesy is given freely), a bit of thick skin, and fluency in sarcasm. She's happy to chat about anything from Ron Paul, to Ronald Regan. A bit of warning, she has a dedication to General Jim Mattis, and a low threshold for BS. Professionally, she spent almost a decade working in the Defense Contracting industry.

21 Comments
  • Tom Moeller says:

    Regional/Tribal wars (Turks and Kurds can claim this territory) are never kind to outside intervention. If we used your logic that one side will likely loose, and that was the side we preferred to win, why aren’t we intervening in Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, China, Sudan, more in damn near every Durkastan hole out there?

    Cost benefit is not always pretty but it is worth a shot to evaluate when all else seems to get us more useless war.

    • We are intervening in North Korea (DMZ/large military presence in SK). That’s a show of force for sure. In fact, all the places you list are locations where we have interacted with soft, or hard power. Our military operate all over the world; in named bases OCONUS, and smaller operational bases. Then we have CAG’s that operates pretty much anywhere with Blue water. Then there is the MEF, and they are a rapid deployment force that is always on float somewhere. If minimalist intervention is the name of the game, then we need to extract all EuroCom forces back to the USA. We can maintain the contingent in Belgium at NATO. But the forces in Germany, Italy, UK, and countless others can all return CONUS. Then we can pull back our forces in Japan, Korea, and Guam.
      See, the reason we aren’t actively fighting with China, Russia, and NK is precisely because we have a presence in locations that make it easy to reach out and touch people. We had that in the SDF occupied space. Precisely why Turkey stopped at their southern border. We move those forces, Turkey hits the throttles.
      I ask you, if we have contingent forces and bases all around the world to keep our enemies close, why not have one in the cradle of terrorism? Plopping down a base seems to be an effective deterrent to fighting. We are the world’s hall monitor. Like it or not, that is why we have the economy and the world operates on the dollar. Our economic position is directly tied to our military position.
      Letting ISIS escape from captivity actually prolongs the fight against terrorism. We have two choices, contain them or kill them. We aren’t killing them….

      • GWB says:

        that make it easy to reach out and touch people. We had that in the SDF occupied space
        We already have it in Iraq. No need for extra basing in Syria.

        We are the world’s hall monitor.
        To hell with that. I never asked for Empire, and I don’t want one. And we shouldn’t let the rest of the world dictate that we should be. (Which, btw, is not the case, anyway. The person making us the world’s hall monitor is the progressive vision of world peace, based on their utopic ideas. It was Wilson who advocated “making the world safe for democracy.” It was poppycock then and it’s bullpucky now.)

        Our economic position is directly tied to our military position.
        Baloney. It’s indirectly tied, but not directly.

  • GWB says:

    Our security is tied, our economies are intertwined.
    It certainly doesn’t have to be. Our intertwining was based on shared goals and principles which are no longer shared.

    In general, while you’re right there’s risk involved in withdrawal, there’s MUCH more risk involved in staying. Don’t be suckered in by the Sunk Cost Fallacy. And, despite the Kurds being our allies, no government is ever going to actually back them for an independent nation (which likely wouldn’t survive any more easily than Iraq). I think it would be a smart move, merely to disrupt the traditional players in the ME, but the governments of the world aren’t going to let it happen.

    (I actually think we should go ahead and remake the map of the ME. It’s a very historical thing to do, and it might benefit us in general. But we’d have to give up our current conceit that “nobody should be interfering in another nation’s affairs.” [Which is honored more in the breach, anyway….] We’d have to accept that, say, India had a right to just kick the Pakistanis out of Kashmir.)

    Bring our troops home. Arm the Kurds to the teeth. Cut off Turkey from NATO funding.

    • These are not terrible ideas. There is no way to disentangle our economies. Since the American Revolution the US and “Europe” et al. have been economically interdependent. (obviously before then as well). Not going to happen.
      I don’t agree that there is more risk in staying. We already have a significant footprint in the ME. I see this as becoming Afghanistan in the 70’s. We aided certain rebel forces against the Soviets… how did that work our for us after we left? Where our policy goes wrong is that we have no stabilization strategy. Some call it Imperialism, I call it regional stability. We go, we win, we plant our flag. We give it time to stabilize, and we maintain a presence. See: Europe, Japan, S Korea all very successful examples of stability.

      • GWB says:

        There is no way to disentangle our economies.
        Bullhockey. There are plenty of ways. The question is merely how much you can afford.

        We already have a significant footprint in the ME.
        There’s that Sunk Cost fallacy again. Already having a footprint does NOT mean we should increase it, or that that increase doesn’t come with significant marginal risk.

        I see this as becoming Afghanistan in the 70’s.
        No, not analogous, at all.

        Some call it Imperialism, I call it regional stability.
        I call it stupidly getting ensnared in our neighbor’s fights.
        I also call it you being seduced by the progressive vision of a peaceful world all ensured by American blood and treasure. This is just a globalist version of what we all scream and yell about when progressives do it to us in our own country.
        LET THE REST OF THE WORLD GO ITS WAY.

        all very successful examples of stability
        BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! That’s 3 examples out of how many places we’ve tried to “stabilize?! 3 out of 10?* That’s a pretty crappy record.
        (* I’m thinking Vietnam, Somalia, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, pretty much all of Africa, besides the 3 successful ones.)
        – Oh, and you do NOT get to count all of Europe. We reformed West Germany – which was going to stabilize itself one way or another. We simply paid a lot of money for everywhere else in Western Europe to rebuild. And Eastern Europe stabilized itself after the Iron Curtain came down. Yes, with some help from us – they asked – but not because we occupied the space.
        – And S Korea? How many years do you want to stay in Syria? We’re past 65 now in S Korea. Our conflict there could be drawing Social Security if it were a person.
        – As to Japan, we had to pretty much eviscerate their entire culture to turn them around. You foresee us doing that anywhere? Ever again?
        The primary thing we did to help those countries (besides reforming their culture)? We kept the vultures off while they rebuilt.

        Sorry, but no. Us staying in Syria will be much like us staying in Afghanistan – a pointless exercise in “nation-building” that has been shown time and time again NOT to work.

  • GWB says:

    BTW, if we had exercised warfare as it is intended, we wouldn’t be in this predicament. If Syria was so important we had to invade, then invade. Go in, kill ALL the bad guys, impose our will*, then LEAVE. Or, stay and occupy the place and run it until it meets our definition of “Able to go its own way.” THEN we LEAVE.

    (* Oh, and if they will defy your will when you leave then you didn’t kill ENOUGH of the bad guys. Sometimes that includes salting the earth before you walk away.)

    • NC says:

      This last part sounds perilously close to nation building
      So here’s plan B. Bring the Kurds over here, and let Syria and Turkey and Iran all implode. I’d rather have them than Ilhan’s ilk.

      • GWB says:

        The difference between “nation-building” as it is today and “stay and occupy the place and run it until…” is two-fold.
        First, an actual exit strategy (it meets our definition of “able to go its own way”, and we establish that standard in the beginning, in writing).
        Second, it’s an actual occupation. No candied yams here, just “eat your f*ing vegetables so you can grow up.” No backing strongmen who kinda, sorta mouth the right words at us – we RUN the place – and we impose our standards, our rules, and none of them get a say until their culture has changed adequately.
        (Third, in my kingdom, if we decide they’re irredeemable, we burn the place down on our way out so they won’t be a bother to us for several generations.)

        • GWB says:

          BTW, the “burn it all down” comment relates back to Narcissi’s comment on our “successful stabilizations”. Note that the places we’ve successfully stabilized we either burned to the ground then totally occupied, or we spent blood and treasure to defend them for 65 years. (Yes, our military personnel have died at the hands of North Koreans since the armistice.)

  • Nicki says:

    I will submit the following:

    Throwing the SDF under the bus is a dick move, but something we’ve come to expect from this administration.

    But there are secondary and tertiary effects to this that most people don’t even think about.

    1 – We basically moved aside and told another NATO member to FUCKING INVADE A SOVEREIGN COUNTRY with impunity, knowing that’s exactly what they’re doing.

    2 – Turkey promised to take all the tens of thousands of ISIS foreign fighters into al-Hawl camp. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? There are escapes from that camp on a regular basis, and there was one yesterday during the incursion. Yeah, they’re going to just pop in tens of thousands more ISIS fighters in addition to the women already in there who are radicalized and violent. That will end well!

    3 – Asad has already opened his arms to the SDF, and Russia and Iran are dying to bring them into the fold. Iran will use them as just another proxy to conduct attacks on western interests. It’s been their MO for years, so with us having betrayed the Kurds, they will certainly have another group to mold that hates the US. Meanwhile Russia is using this as a propaganda tool to show what kind of shitty, unreliable ally we are.

    4 – And then we have Turkey – the NATO ally that is about as close to an enemy that we can get without being “technically” an enemy. The Kurds have stated that they will wage an all out war to defend themselves from the Turks, as well they should, considering Turkey has one of the strongest militaries in NATO. Will Turkey demand that NATO allies get involved under Article 5? Has that debile even thought about that? Will we be forced to respond against our one-time ally, because we are bound by the collective security guarantee?

    No, we shouldn’t remain in Syria for nation building, but bowing out of the way while a NATO member stages an incursion? Anyone who fucking defends this needs their goddamn heads examined!

    • Nicki says:

      Oh, and let’s not forget that Turkey accidentally bombed a fucking prison that contained ISIS fighters yesterday. Wonder where the survivors scattered…

    • GWB says:

      1 – So what? The only issue here is that you think we have interests there. I don’t believe there’s anything in the NATO charter preventing them from acting on their own interests. (Now, they might have a hard time invoking Article 5 in that case….)

      2 – We’re obviously not going to deal with them other than through strategic, long-term neglect, so why not let Turkey have them? Sure, some will escape. But, right now, we’re not doing anything to resolve the situation, either!

      3 – If the SDF will fold right into Iran’s terrorist arms, then I don’t want them around anyway, and I’d rather someone else get bloodied fighting them. (That’s a counter-argument to yours, not that I necessarily believe they would join those folks.) As to Russia’s propaganda coup… well, that’s what we get for not throwing in with the Kurds, as I think we should have long ago. But, if the policy is that we do not back them living in an independent state, then *shrug*. (You can see my opinions on supporting the Kurds around here, I think.)

      4 – “Turkey has one of the strongest militaries in NATO”
      Ummmm, not based on analysis I’ve seen since the “coup”. And, “strongest in NATO” is setting a REALLY LOW bar.
      “Will we be forced to respond”? HAH! Not a chance. Invoking Article 5 would require moving a rather large logjam upstream, in a Siberian winter.

      5 – I think your “Oh, and” counters your #4 nicely. (Or it wasn’t an accident.)
      My answer to #2 applies here, as well.

      Quite simply, the answer to all of your objections is NOT to continue our presence in Syria, but to change a bunch of other things we’re doing wrong in foreign policy and warfighting.

      Anyone who thinks we should stay in Syria and play recess monitor probably needs to have their foreign policy assumptions examined.

  • GWB says:

    And, I think Andrew McCarthy hits my point well with this quote:
    No one is supposed to ask “What did we expect would happen when we backed a militant organization that is tightly linked to U.S.-designated terrorists and that is the bitter enemy of a NATO ally we knew would not abide its presence on the ally’s border?” No one is supposed to ask “What is the end game here? Are we endorsing the partition of Syria? Did we see a Kurdish autonomous zone as the next Kosovo?”
    From NRO, h/t Ace.

    • Nicki says:

      We never pulled out of Syria; we merely stepped out of the way so Erdogan can do what he loves to do: slaughter the Kurds.

      1) I’m not about us having interests there, and as I said previously, I’d have rather not gotten involved in the first place. But that ship has sailed, and Obama did get us involved, so that’s neither here nor there. We do have longer term security concerns there.

      2) Wrong answer. We were involved in negotiations helping SDF repatriate some of these assholes. We were training the SDF in security TTPs to ensure that these assholes didn’t leave and rejoin ISIS. Frankly, I have few fucks to give about betraying our ally, blah blah blah, although, again, it’s a dick move. My concern is that releasing thousands upon thousands of radicalized ISIS fighters into the wind is a problem.

      3) The SDF will fall into their arms, because THEY’RE NOT THE ONES KILLING THEM OR BETRAYING THEM. Duh. And I’m looking at the second and third order effects. It seems you’re all about just pulling back and being all isolationist, and you don’t seem to give a damn about what our enemies do, but that genie is out of the bottle, and between the Russian propaganda coup, Iran’s funding and support for proxies that hate the United States, and our reputation as a reliable ally tarnished, this is a longer-term disaster.

      4) Turkey is one of the strongest militaries in NATO. Granted this is a low bar, but nonetheless. And I’m not as sure as you are that Article 5 wouldn’t come into play. There doesn’t have to be ground involvement, but I worry that air assets could be used to uphold the collective security guarantee. A long time ago, in a former life, I was a NATO analyst, and I don’t have the confidence you do in your words.

      5) The “oh and” does no such thing. You’re assuming the prison was decimated, and all the ISIS fighters were killed. Not the case. But that certainly gives them a nice little way to escape into the wild.

      Quite simply, we haven’t ended our presence in Syria. We simply stepped out of the way and allowed Erdogan to do what he’s wanted to do for several years, but was deterred by our mere presence there, because can you imagine what would happen if he engaged in an incursion while US troops were still there and killed one of them? Holy shit!

      We are not playing recess monitor there. Our role is much more nuanced and advanced. Your foreign policy assumptions are based on your political opinions. Mine are based a bit more on what I factually know about the situation on the ground.

      Regards,
      N

      • GWB says:

        you don’t seem to give a damn about what our enemies do
        No, I don’t, in terms of things they’re not doing to US. We need to stop trying to police the world and let them do what they’re going to do – unless it directly threatens a vital American interest. And I do NOT count “having friends” as a vital interest unto itself. (Hell, almost none of our current friends are actually helpful. Partly because of 0bama, but partly because they aren’t friends, they’re abusive partners.)

        And fuck that “isolationist” bullshit. I’m not and never have been. But I do not see where our direct interests are advanced by our remaining in Syria (or that portion of Syria)if we’re not going to actually conquer the damn place and solve the issues.

        Our role is much more nuanced and advanced.
        You might like to think so, but that’s essentially the role you have described. We’re there to keep one set of kids from beating up on another set. Oh, and trying to squelch a terrorist organization that really was almost entirely a threat to the Middle East and not the US. (Yes, “known wolves”. We’re not going to stop those by killing IS fighters in the field. We’re going to stop that by stopping radical islam.)

        I know quite a bit about the situation on the ground, too. And that’s part of the weakness of your position, imo: you’re too mired in the tactical to see the strategic. We need to GET OUT. And, because we got involved without a clear objective of Destroy The Enemy And Then Go Home, lots of people will have to pay a price for our consequent withdrawal. The price will ultimately be higher if we stay (not all of it in blood and treasure).

        This is ultimately my point: If you want us to stay, then you damned well better come up with a plan a LOT better than “status quo”. One that includes us stopping the bullshit of being the tripwire for all the world’s bad guys, and starts worrying more about US. Until then, I’ll just keep reminding you the price gets higher every day we don’t come home.

      • GWB says:

        Oh, and let’s not hold the Kurds up as these special America-loving, republicans-waiting-for-their-Philadelphia folks. A large number of them are involved in a rebellion against Turkey (hence Turkey’s desire to roll tanks over them) that often involves terrorist acts. Plenty of them are islamic fundamentalists. A very small portion of them is enamored with democracy (though a much larger portion is enamored of American logistical and military help, so makes nice sounds about democracy and such).

        Even given all that, I think it would be a good strategic move to back their independence and plop our regional base down right in the midst of Kurdistan. And make sure that folks knew that this was a case of letting the rest of the ME (aside from Israel) go to hell.

  • Bsmith says:

    The Kurds are an allie? Who says? Let’s be clear, we had intersecting interests with the Kurds in Syria. Period. They were not siding with us and they are are not our friends. And now, with a common enemy gone – we have no shared interests. They don’t share our values nor do they share our national objectives.

    If I am wrong, please enumerate for me all of the ways this wonderful Kurdish ‘allie’ shares our values, interests and national objectives.

  • zenman says:

    Which Kurdish groups are being attacked? So far, the few articles I’ve read haven’t specified which particular groups are being attacked, lumping them all as “Kurds.”

  • zenman says:

    Also, an excellent post by someone who has dealt with the Kurds in the past… http://disq.us/p/24v7s10

    Besides which, they ought to be used to it by now…

    Bush I: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1991-04-14-op-141-story.html?f

    Clinton: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/us-abandoned-us-say-kurds-1361688.html

    Bush II: https://www.wnd.com/2007/10/44100/?fbclid=IwAR10QxgvSLyUgnZKm_m6rY05Uoa0J37hSU5I8KAta9o9OGVuN3XtrTZQH4Q

    Obama: https://www.nationalreview.com/2014/09/obama-betrays-kurds-robert-zubrin/

    And, if a NATO member engages in ethnic cleansing/genocide, what obligation do ALL other NATO members have?

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