Syria Thread

ThunderHorse

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Trump Endorses Turkish Military Operation in Syria, Shifting U.S. Policy

What, the, Hell.

WASHINGTON — In a major shift in United States military policy in Syria, the White House said on Sunday that President Trump had given his endorsement for a Turkish military operation that would sweep away American-backed Kurdish forces near the border in Syria.

Turkey considers the Kurdish forces to be a terrorist insurgency, and has long sought to end American support for the group. But the Kurdish fighters, which are part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, or S.D.F., have been the United States’ most reliable partner in fighting the Islamic State in a strategic corner of northern Syria.

Now, Mr. Trump’s decision goes against the recommendations of top officials in the Pentagon and the State Department who have sought to keep a small troop presence in northeast Syria to continue operations against the Islamic State, or ISIS, and to act as a critical counterweight to Iran and Russia.
 

Box

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The policy dartboard - every president seems to own one - they swear that they are going to stop the madness - and then the first thing they do is start throwing darts.

Triple 20 - make a speech, drop a bomb.
Double 7 - attend a summit
Bullseye - move some troops


Hell, the least they could do is stand a little closer to the dart board when they are entertaining themselves.
I served on active duty under six different presidents and the only foreign policy goal I have ever really understood was "Russia, Bad" - "tear down this wall" was pretty easy to follow but most everything since then has been a shit show.

I am a firm believer that our foreign policy should be easy to understand and should focus on a few simple goals:
-It should focus on immediate impacts on the national security
-It should at least hold the illusion that we are seeking a safe and secure global community
-It should address foreign trade in a way that OVERTLY favors Americas best interests
-It should attempt to champion human rights in conjunction with our allies
-It should invest our finest national treasure (American blood) as a very last resort and only when there is a clear payoff.

It isn't just the current presidential administration governing by the seat of its pants - it is the entirety of our government.
Left - Right - Center - Left of Center - Waay Left of Center - Waay Way Right of Center. It doesn't matter because none of them have enough sense to come in out of the rain.

Hell - there is no center any more - at least not one with a definable ethos. I'd love to be be a Libertarian if not for the continuous perception that the only thing they offer is the promise of legalized recreational drugs.
I don't know if I should shit or go blind.
 

Marauder06

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I'm totally fine with this move. It's not our job to protect Syrian Kurds in Syria. Those forces were co-combatants of convenience. Turkey is a far more important partner, and an actual ally of the US. Let Ankara absorb the blood and treasure of occupying Syria and combating Iranian, Russian, and Islamist proxies.
 

Gordus

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So long as the Turks don't commit another genocide ....
 
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Box

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Clearly this is another one of those dart-board style strategic decisions that the President has been known to employ - but I just cant seem to make myself feel emotional about it.

We didnt go there to help the Kurds. We went there to curb-stomp ISIS. If the Kurds in that region had chosen NOT to partner with us, then they'd have gotten stomped as well. I also don't believe for an instant that the Kurds partnered with us to fight ISIS. The Kurds partnered because they are always on the hook for the idea that the US might finally help them establish a permanent Kurdistan if they help us shoot a few bad guys.
We are not IN Syria for the Kurds - we should not STAY in Syria because of the Kurds.
The Kurds are a partner force they are not formal allies. Turkey is a NATO ally.

The Kurds are ONLY a partner forces because it benefits them - Kurds in Iraq dont want to be Iraqi - Kurds in Syria dont want to be Syria - Kurds in Turkey dont want to be Turkish. Kurds in Iran dont want to be Iranian. They just want to live in Kurdistan and they'll get in bed with anyone that they think will help them push a Kurdistan narrative. I got pretty tired of listening to mumbo jumbo about Kurdistan by a group of Iraqi soldiers that really didnt give two shits about Iraq. We are not in the middle east to fight for Kurdistan. Kurds dont want to assimilate to any country - they just want to claim their own space and their only loyalty is to the notion of a Kurdistan.
I worked with Kurds in Iraq and they were only interested in one thing - Kurdistan. Wear an Iraqi uniform, collect an Iraqi paycheck - refuse to be Iraqi. Not all that impressed.

I dont really care how congress OR the Pentagon frame this. Congress loves to arm everyone but American citizens - and they love doing it for all of the same reasons that Americans SHOULD be armed.
...and the Pentagon has never met an armed conflict they didn't like.

I've mentioned my thoughts on these same issues in other places - so I'll share them here since it is germane to the topic. I like to consider congressional policy wonks and talking heads in the defense department along the lines of simple physics. Quite honestly, the physics of DoD foreign policy, supported by the usual suspects in congress is quite easy to understand so I'll break it down for everyone by extrapolating Newtons Laws of Motion.
-Newton's First Law suggests that a General Officer at war will remain at war until acted upon by an external force.
-Newton's Second Law suggests that escalation of war is dependent on the forces acting upon the General Officer and the General Officers support in congress. For any given General Officer, when the net support in congress is increased, the escalation of war is increased.
-Newtons third Law suggests that for every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction. The president can commit troops - congress will shit. The president can withdraw troops and congress will still shit a gold brick.
Equal and Opposite.

It isn't just Trump or Bush or Obama or Bush or Clinton or Reagan or Carter or Nixon or Johnson or Kennedy - this line of thinking applies to any other president that has ever had to bear the weight of responsibility for American blood. Otherwise, its just business as usual inside the beltway. In their natural state - defense policy wonks will always find some reason to "stay at war" as long as they are being funded. There will always be a milestone that we haven't reached. There will always be a condition that hasn't been set. It doesn't matter how much bullshit they parade in front of the troops that they are worried about dwell time or 'POTFF' issues.
We still have US troops in Germany, Italy, and Japan and THAT war ended 75 years ago.

I cant force myself to romanticize any type of relationship with the Kurds. First off- one thing SF guys are taught (or used to be taught) was never fall in love with your "G's". Just like under-cover cops cant get in too deep with the criminal component - SF guys working with host nation or surrogate forces are NEVER supposed to make it personal.
Get in - make friends - organize them - train them - equip them - combat advise them as they fight on behalf of US interests. Then when the fight for US interests is over - demobilize them.
Yes - demobilize them.

At least we are letting the Kurds keep all the shit we gave them.


**edited to add**
- its also disingenuous for folks to feign surprise considering that this "overnight development" has been on the table for quite some time now.
Didn't every ones favorite Mad-Dog Marine General leave his job as the SECDEF earlier this year because the POTUS said he wanted troops pulled out of Syria? Again - the laws of physics apply - a General Officer at war will remain at war until acted upon by an external force - and as far as the part of Newtons Law that states "for every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction" - well, when Trump said no more war in Syria WAAAY back in 2018 - the retired Marine G.O. decided it was time to move on - equal and opposite reaction.








"Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong."
 
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USNSCC_Guru

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Some allies Turkey turns out to be. They're only purpose of being in NATO was during the Cold War. Now they've been aligning themselves with Russia and we had to boot them from the F-35 program because they were trying to fly our planes against the Russian S-400 missile system to sabotage the F-35 stealth capabilities.
 

NikNifSik

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I'm totally fine with this move. It's not our job to protect Syrian Kurds in Syria. Those forces were co-combatants of convenience. Turkey is a far more important partner, and an actual ally of the US. Let Ankara absorb the blood and treasure of occupying Syria and combating Iranian, Russian, and Islamist proxies.
Slightly disagree with parts of this. Yes, Turkey is a NATO ally, but they are not truly our friends. They have conducted various levels of subversion on almost every effort of ours over the past 6 years that it's not even funny. The Kurds, on the other hand, put us in a weird spot. They were there, ready to go when we needed a force willing to fight immediately. But they fail to take the steps to legitimize so that we can champion their cause on the world stage. I do agree its not our job to protect them, but I do think we have a slight (ever so slight) obligation to support them in their pursuit of existence. I like holding Turkey at bay, supporting the Kurds indirectly and holding talks with all parties involved. Are we ready to leave Syria? yes, when it comes to the war against ISIS. Do we gain an advantage by staying in Syria when it comes to other adversaries? absolutely. Guess the big wigs need to bet on what the next giant move will be from the regional players.
 

AWP

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The only reason we care, or any nation would care, about Turkey is location, location, location. Their overt hostility to the US is starting to match their covert hostility. They are the definition of frienemies.

The Kurds...the US has a history of dumping locals who helped it, so this isn't a shock. The Kurds are on the hook for the hoopla as well for being naive enough to think we'd side with them against Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. Yeah, nah. I hate to break it to y'all, but we sold the Kurds out years ago as part of the deal to involve Turkey in the fight against ISIS. The day after the deal was announced I sat in front of our radar scopes and watched what seemed like the whole Turkish Air Force marshalling over Kurdistan. F-16'a, F-4's, all of the ISR...bombing the shit out of the Kurds, but now the Kurds want to boo-hoo in the press?

We've spent too much blood and treasure in SWA and for what? You could argue we're 1-2 in SWA since 9/11. Iraq and Afghanistan want us out of there? Cool story, let's see how long they last. Let their pride be their downfall. We'll have a nuclear armed Iran soon enough and that will change the entire dynamic of SWA.

I have no love for any of the external players in this drama. Let them sort it out and we can make nice with the survivors.

Edited for typos.
 
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