Yesterday President Trump announced that he was removing all US troops from Syria over the next 30 days. Today, “Mad Dog” Jim Mattis, the US Secretary of Defense and widely viewed as “the last adult in the room” among the Trump national security team, announced his resignation effective at the end of February. This is not a coincidence, although his letter makes it clear that he had been thinking about this serously for some time.
In his letter the most fundamental issue seems to be his concern for proper relations with US allies, with Trump obviously treating nearly all of them badly. So a crucial sentence is the following.
“While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies.”
Later after noting that 29 democracies supported the US after the 9-11 attack as showing the importance of allies he writes:
“The Defeat-ISIS coalition of 74 nations is further proof.”
Now I have mixed feelings about various pieces of this. Many of those upset by this sudden and unexpected decision by Trump are focused on Iran and Russia and Assad in Syria: that Assad will remain in power with both Russia and Iran influential there. I agree Assad is a murderous dictatorial creep, but Russia (and before it the USSR) has had a naval base there in Tartus since 1971 that they are not remotely going to give up. The Iranians are less important,so the worry about them is mostly silly huysteria. And on Assad, those most likely to replace him were radical Sunnis allied with al-Qaeda, the group that attacked the US on 9-11.
Juan Cole on Informed Comment has a pretty good article up. Accordingly, Mattis was a modifier in the Trump administration. He did have his issues in Yemen, Afghanistan, etc.
alliances, “74 nations to defeat ISIS”.
I keep a small finger on the “pulse”.
I do not hear much differences from Ash Carter who was a PhD educator.
With Joint Chiefs sitting at the NSC the Sec Def is the long range force structure side and buying F-35 as If they work is a huge second career move!
I have observed that getting out of Syria was a “thing” until Trump suggested it.
Let Israel and Turkey deal with Iran using the easily bombed highways for mayhem.
Peace with honor? Haha!
I think our options narrowed in the region when we destroyed Iraq. Now we are just puppets.
Dumping Saddam and occupying Iraq were huge mistakes.
Bush 41 was right to leave Saddam in Baghdad!
But US power to effect the Persian Gulf has been ineffective since the CIA’s puppet in Tehran was ousted by the Ayatollahs.
Why US’ bi partisan neocons always talk regime change in Iran!
The desertion of the Kurds reminds me of the abandonment of the South Vietnamese army.
While I get the analogy you’re trying to make, the US abandoned South Vietnam (an ostensible sovereign country) to North Vietnam. The Kurds don’t represent a sovereign country. Moreover, the goal of North Vietnam was to unify a Vietnamese people. The goal of Turkey is to exterminate the Kurdish people.
I understand that North Vietnam was far from a bulwark of freedom and democracy, but then, South Vietnam wasn’t much better.
I’m just pointing out that the mission we abandoned in S. Vietnam–propping up a puppet government–was quite different from the role we are abandoning with the Kurds. I regard the desertion of the Kurds to the tender mercies of Turkey to be far more egregious.
The S Vietnamese army was not worth the life of one US soldier! Corrupt and not representing the masses.
Same conclusion with Chiang’s “army”.
South Korea: Singman Rhee….. was an American plant. And the PRC was “dumb enough” to fight WW I over. Kim’s grandfather was no Ho.
I wasn’t claiming the South Vietnamese government or army should have been supported and defended to begin with. Once one intervenes however, duties are owed to those who supported and helped our troops. That’s South Vietnamese civilians as well as some of their military people. The helicopter lifting off the embassy with all those people scrambling toward it is a symbol of desertion for many of those left behind. Abandoning the Kurds does indeed remind me of that symbol although I agree the situations are not the same. Similar is enough.
Consider the irony of ICE seeking out Southeast Asian refugees from many years ago for deportation. Shameful.