Syria makes me so sad. If you’ve been with me through the Trump years, you’ll remember that I’ve periodically celebrated Trump’s approach to Syria. The truth is I got played.
The fact that Trump hasn’t gone whole hog and launched Iraq 2003 2.0 in Syria is a good thing, but Obama accomplished that too. We were promised more. Over and over. Today’s video makes clear how little was delivered.
Video Transcript after the jump…
Ladies and Gentlemen, Donald Trump is one of the weakest presidents we have ever had. Now I have never been one to deny that Donald Trump has a few good ideas.
In my opinion we’ve spent four trillion dollars trying to topple various people that frankly, if they were there, and we could have spent that four trillion dollars in the United States to fix our roads and our bridges and all of the other problems, our airports, and all of the other problems we have, we would have been a lot better off, I can tell you that right now. We have done a tremendous disservice, not only to the Middle East, we have done a tremendous disservice to humanity, the people who have been killed, the people who have been wiped away, and for what? It’s not like we had victory…
Trump’s willingness to say things like that is the reason he was elected. It’s also the reason the US national security establishment and intelligence community have spent 5 years gunning for him, but that’s a different video. Trump’s willingness to call out Washington DC on the campaign trail was thrilling. Unfortunately it has turned out to be worse than useless, because President Trump is so unpardonably weak.
Trump is not an honest Man, but I think he may honestly believe that he is a president that has promoted peace. We hear a lot that Trump hasn’t started any new wars, and if that were true, Trump would join Jimmy Carter as one of the most peace loving US presidents of all time. But it’s not true. Trump has wisely backed down from war with Iran on a few occasions, but those occasions only came because of his own weakness and lack of understanding. The truth is that Trump has started a war with Iran. As I pointed out a month or so back, it’s just on hold pending the result of the election. I will link to that video at the end of this one. Oh and there’s also North Korea, something I never cover, but a lot of people think that 2017 is the closest the world has gotten to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Trumpers have tried to sell that near catastrophe as bold mad man politics but so far all that risk has yielded abso-fucking-lutely nothing.
Trump has probably caused the most controversy with his statements on withdrawal from Syria. I have spoken to multiple US voters in recent weeks who think we did withdraw from Syria. We didn’t. Trump is so weak that he can’t even get the US military to follow his clear orders. I don’t blame people for falling for this by the way. I have fallen for it too… repeatedly.
When Donald Trump suggested we get out, he was having one of his stopped clock moments, he is absolutely right about that.
It pains me to admit this, but on this topic, Donald Trump is right, and all of those hashtag resistance neocons are very very wrong
Hey there, I really hate to admit this, but Donald Trump may have just made the world a much safer place.
I got fooled too, over and over again. Syria is the centerpiece of the Peaceful Donald case. But if we look at what actually happened, the story is very different.
It’s easy to forget, but under some definitions, it was actually Trump that first put boots on the ground in Syria. At the tail end of his presidency Obama set up a small outpost to train and equip anti-ISIS fighters at Al-Tanf in the middle of the desert. But Obama did not deploy any permanent troops to the hotly contested areas in Northern Syria. Before Trump, this region was just one of dozens, all over the world, where the US has small, deniable, instantly removable deployments of special forces troops. It was Trump that sent in the Marines, and set up the patrols that now occasionally feature troops from two nuclear powers playing chicken with military vehicles. The Obama administration was certainly trying to overthrow Assad covertly, but it’s Trump that started using open elements of the US military to kill Syrian soldiers and Russian mercenaries in large numbers. These distinctions may not seem important, but they are. The numbers are infinitely smaller of course, but the parallel that makes the most sense to me is the switch from what Kennedy was doing in Vietnam to what Johnson was doing in Vietnam. We certainly wouldn’t say that Johnson withdrew from Vietnam would we?
After making our first open and permanent deployment of troops to Northern Syria, Trump has repeatedly, clearly stated that he wants our troops to be removed from Syria. Yet they are still there. This is not like Trump’s failure to even propose the better healthcare system he has promised since 2015, or that infrastructure bill that never materialized. US presidents don’t have to negotiate with anybody to move troops around. Trump’s the commander-in-chief, if he wants something to happen with the military, there is no bar to it happening. Other than Trump’s extraordinary weakness. The military distracted Trump with the illegal, impracticable and absurd idea of “Taking Syria’s Oil”. Despite years of claims from Trump, we still have 50% more boots on the ground in Syria than we did at the end of the Obama administration. Trump has made a fool of me, and he has made a fool of you, but mostly he has made a fool of himself.
Trump also has a good instinct or two when it comes to Afghanistan. I don’t think Clinton would have been negotiating with the Taliban, but there are two really central problems with Trump’s claim that he is bringing the troops home from Afghanistan.
After a couple loud troop draw-down controversies, at the middle of this year, journalists estimate that we had a little under 9,000 troops in Afghanistan. This is around the same number of troops we had in Afghanistan four years ago at the end of the Obama administration. The media has consciously created a false impression of a peaceful Donald Trump. One of the facts they leave out of most discussion of Afghanistan is that he started out in 2017 by jacking up troop deployment to Afghanistan by about 50%. So up until this fall, the only troop deployments Donald Trump had withdrawn from Afghanistan were deployments Donald Trump made in 2017.
With the election impending, Trump is now scrambling to bring more troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq. Or so he claims. We don’t really know, because of one of the Trump administration’s worst innovations. The Obama and Bush administrations had serious difficulties with honesty and transparency. But under those presidents the Pentagon published regular reports of troop levels in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Those reports stopped coming in December of 2017. Under Trump, we have no way of knowing whether what the white house tells us about troop levels has any truth to it at all. Trump’s military has also ended the Obama administration’s minor efforts on drone warfare transparency. All reports indicate that the use and lethality of drones has skyrocketed. But this somehow never makes it into the news cycle. Trump’s tweets are more interesting than all those dead women and children, I guess. This is just another realm where an absent commander-in-chief means the Pentagon can do whatever the hell it wants, with minimal transparency.
Trump’s weakness has ramifications far beyond his presidency. The idea of bringing our troops home and engaging less abroad is consistently popular. Government and media use a range of strategies to thwart the will of the US people. Trump has given them a new one. The establishment has built a fraudulent story of a peaceful Donald Trump, so they can use it against arguments for restraint for years or even decades to come. Trump’s staggering weakness has actually made the fight for peace much, much harder.