The mainstream press coverage of President Trump’s announcement that he would be removing US troops from Syria has been unanimously apocalyptic. Journos who until a few days ago couldn’t care less about the Kurds (certainly not when US president after US president has used them as a cat’s paw and then abandoned them to their fate), were all of a sudden up in arms warning about an impending slaughter with the blood dripping squarely onto Trump’s hands.
In fact, US weapons, training, and backing had carved out a de facto super-sized Kurd-controlled section of northern Syria which it does not take a geopolitical expert to understand would incense NATO ally Turkey. Why prop up the Kurds and in the process infuriate Erdogan? The US-led regime-change program simply did not have many other boots on the ground to turn to. After years of arming jihadists whose masks slipped quickly thereafter to reveal al-Qaeda or ISIS markings, the game was up for the “Assad must go” crowd and the only move left was to pretend that a proxy Kurd militia was something called the “Syrian Democratic Forces.” When in fact it was nothing of the sort. It was simply the Kurds, rented by Washington.
And the bloodbath the media and neocons warned would come about should Trump dare reconsider another US forever war? More lies and bluster. The Kurds are re-considering their foolish refusal to partner more closely with the Syrian government against foreign-sponsored insurgencies. Just last week, they began negotiations with Damascus to reconcile and forestall a massive Turk incursion.
But the Kurds acting in their own best interest is a big problem for the neocons. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has given himself credit for slowing Trump’s announced withdrawal from Syria, has gone on record claiming it would be a “major disaster” if the Kurds in Syria aligned themselves with the Syrian (aka their own) government. To Graham and his neocon cohort, the US can never leave any war. Undeclared wars are just fine with them, but declared peace is a “major disaster.”
Which brings us back to public opinion. With the neocons clogging up the airwaves with predictions of gloom and doom if the US ends its illegal occupation of Syria and with the mainstream media in its continuing Pravda-esque lock-step when it comes to the US global military empire, something quite remarkable has happened: the American people are happy that Trump plans to bring the troops home. According to a recent poll, more than half of Americans surveyed support the removal of US troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
Overseas, support for President Trump’s moves is also significant. The Baroness Caroline Cox of the UK House of Lords, has sent President Trump a letter, with former UK Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford, and on behalf of a network of “concerned parliamentarians, senior clerics, former ambassadors and academics,” congratulating the president on his announced pull-out.
The Baroness writes:
Your courage in doing the right thing, in the face of conflicting advice and an onslaught from ill-informed politicians, a blinkered media and brittle allies, commands respect. We salute you.
The letter continues with a call for the end of US sanctions on Syria, which, she writes “only hobble its economy, hamper refugee return, cause mass unemployment, hinder recovery and create conditions for a re-emergence of ISIS.”
She warns Trump that there’s nothing his critics (like Lindsey Graham) would like more than a resurgence of ISIS in the areas left by US troops so as to make Trump look wrong in withdrawing. An end of sanctions would help strengthen the Syrian government and better enable it to fight against ISIS.
Let’s hope President Trump heeds the wise counsel of very engaged experts like Baroness Cox. Perhaps next time Sen. Graham demands a meeting to harangue Trump on a troop pull-out he can beg off. Let Graham and Bolton stew in their own juices in some West Wing broom closet. Better yet…maybe Trump should consider some additional personnel changes…
Daniel McAdams is director of the The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity. Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.