Folly in Syria

by Phil Anderson

“Wise people understand the need to consult experts; only fools are confident they know everything.” Ken Poirot, author and social commentator.  

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” Old adage  

Nothing says “folly” and incompetence like Trump's recent blundering in Syria.

Two weeks ago he was pulling our troops out of Syria saying, “...it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous endless wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home.” This surprise decision, taken without consultation with his own advisers, or U.S. allies in the region, led to a Turkish invasion of Northern Syria, thousands more refugees, and abandoning our Kurdish allies in fighting ISIS.  

We certainly do need to get out of the endless wars in the Middle East. Even fools are right sometimes. But the current occupant's sudden conversion to peace advocate is suspect. For openers, one week after “bringing our soldiers home” he ordered troops back into Syria to “secure” its oil fields. Plus he is willing to go to war for oil. He publicly said “We may have to fight for the oil. It’s O.K. Maybe somebody else wants the oil, in which case they have a hell of a fight.” In addition, only five days after withdrawing 50 troops from northern Syria, he sent an additional 3000 to Saudi Arabia in the latest military response to his ongoing tiff with Iran.  

Later he said at a speech in Chicago, "We're keeping the oil — remember that. We want to keep the oil. Forty-five million dollars a month? Keep the oil. We've secured the oil." Everyone knows the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were about “securing” the oil for the western multinational oil companies. But intelligent people didn't say that publicly! The usual process is to manufacture high sounding excuses for wars. We must protect the world from weapons of mass destruction or promote democracy or keep us safe from terrorists. Only an incompetent idiot would openly state a desire to steal Syrian oil.  

Why do we need to “secure” Syria's oil? The U.S. is now oil independent and an oil exporter (that's what the fracking is all about). But, according to Trump, we have to protect Syrian oil from ISIS. Trump has also said several times that ISIS has been defeated. Two weeks ago he tweeted, “When I arrived in Washington, ISIS was running rampant in the area. We quickly defeated 100% of the ISIS Caliphate including capturing thousands of ISIS fighters...” If all this seems like mass confusion, welcome to the world according to Trump. The erratic, chaotic wild swings in foreign policy are being driven by a fool.  

In the past Trump has called himself a “very stable genius.” Recently, in reference to Syria, he bragged about “..my great and unmatched wisdom...” Politicians are ego personified but I can not remember any politician making public statements this arrogant. These ridiculous statements are again proof we have a fool in charge.  

This is not partisanship on my part although I plead guilty to opposing the current occupant and his administration's agenda. Listen to what conservative Republicans have to say about Trump's behavior. Joe Walsh is a former U.S. Representative, former Trump supporter, and now a Republican candidate for president. Speaking about Trump he says,   “He’s nuts. He’s erratic. He’s cruel. He stokes bigotry. He’s incompetent. He doesn’t know what he’s doing...”  

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called the actions in Syria “shortsighted and irresponsible.” Graham said Trump's assertion that the ISIS has been defeated is “the biggest lie being told by the administration.” Republican representative Liz Cheney said, Withdrawing US forces from Northern Syria is a catastrophic mistake that puts our gains against ISIS at risk and threatens US security.” Other conservative Republicans voicing similar complaints include Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Mitt Romney, Sen. Marco Rubio, former Republican governor Mike Huckabee. Nikki Haley, former governor and U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under Trump, said,  

“We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back. The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake.”  

The most damning testimony against Trump comes from his own appointees. On September 5, 2018, a “senior official” within the Trump administration published an anonymous op-ed in The New York Times titled “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration” (note: it is extremely rare for the NY Times to publish any opinions anonymously). The same author has recently published an anonymous book called “A Warning.” Both of these describe White House insiders being so worried about the “instability” of Trump that they considered invoking the 25th Amendment (which provides for removing a president who is incapable of fulfilling the duties of the office). The author compares dealing with Trump's early morning tweets to trying to manage the erratic, dangerous behavior of a senile relative and says,  

“...many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations... So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.”  

There has been ample evidence over the last three years that Joe Walsh, and this anonymous author, have a very accurate assessment of Trump. As the old adage suggests he has too often opened his mouth (or tweeted some inanity) and “removed all doubt” of his incompetence. We can not afford this bull in the china shop crashing around destroying everything with his ugly, ignorant, delusional, narcissistic, un-presidential behavior. Syria is just the most recent example.  

We don't need a president who has to be managed as if he is senile and might hurt himself or someone else. It is time the responsible adults took charge of our national affairs. This means Republicans must act. Whether through the the 25th amendment, impeachment, or simply not allowing him to run for re-election, Republicans must put the country ahead of party loyalty and their own political ambitions. Continuing this folly can only result in disaster for us and the rest of the world.