Mr. Trump: Re-intervention in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan kills the chance to revive America

Mr. President:

I was driving home Friday afternoon (10 March 2017) and listening to Oliver North doing an interview on FOX. North was delighted that we now had 5,000 troops in Iraq and 1,000 in Syria and — he said — more would be going to each. North also gleefully praised you for “listening to your generals.”

Colonel North, Mr. President, is — like John McCain — a brave man but a war-loving ninny. He sees America’s glory only in military activity abroad, not, as the Founders did, in protecting liberty, prosperity, and social cohesion at home, and in maintaining the affection of the citizenry for the republic and its limited government.

During the campaign you once said something like “I know more about the war against the Islamic State (IS) then the generals.” You were right then because you have two qualities they utterly lack: (a) substantial commonsense and (b) a sure knowledge, deep in your bones, that to put things right at home, the non-interventionist facet of America First is of supreme importance. You should put a minimum of confidence in your general officers, as they, and all of their predecessors back to 1945, have not won a war, and now, because of Obama, are fully engaged in turning the U.S. military into an LGBT resort.

Additionally, you should put zero confidence in all of TV’s retired generals — now in their well-paid dotage — who have been right about absolutely nothing since 9/11. They have pontificated about the “cowardly enemy” and “the surge” and about the coming victory over the Islamists, while the lives and limbs of U.S. Marines and soldiers were shamefully wasted in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that no general or president intended to win.

For God sake, Mr. President, get a map of Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, look at it carefully, and then realize that:

  • 6,000, 60,000, or 600,000 Marines and soldiers — the latter two probably not possible without renewed conscription in America — would not be sufficient to win the war, because the wars in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan are wars of all against all. Our so-called allies in each are united in only one thing: they hate the United States, but will take its weapons, blood, and money until each faction of this motley bunch believes it is ready to make a grab for complete power. When that time comes, they will turn on any residual U.S. forces we are foolish enough to leave behind.
  • Captured cities are great irrelevancies in this war. Your generals took all the major cities in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they still definitively lost both wars. If you held Mosul, Aleppo, and ar Raqqa tomorrow morning, Mr. President, what would you have? The answer is simple, Sir, three completely wrecked cities, peopled by the sick, hungry, unemployed, and orphaned, and IS forces fading into the wilderness from where they will do what they do best, fight as guerrillas. In this situation, U.S. forces would be responsible not only for feeding, clothing, healing, defending, and rebuilding the cities and their people — which amounts to a sharply deeper U.S. debt — but also for keeping Arabs, Turks, Iranians, Russians, Kurds, Sunnis, Alawites, and Shias from turning on each other and starting an even more bloody than that fought against IS. Mr. President, you would have a festering, prolonged, unending, manpower-intensive, and utterly bankrupting disaster on your hands.
  • There are no democrats on in all the players in Syria and Iraq, even if your intelligence services and generals tell you there are such supposedly noble creatures present. If IS is driven into the wilderness and Asaad’s government falls — and it will, because its military has been bled white — only Islamists will form the next government. The Islamists are the best fighters in the war and they will never, ever, permit any part of Syria to ruled by Kurds, Alawites, or Shia. Indeed, in a battle against this combined apostate-atheist enemy, the Islamists will find a reliable glue for rough unity, and they will draw support from Saudi Arabia, the other Gulf States, Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey. The bottom line is that U.S.military intervention in Syria — and in Iraq and Afghanistan — will yield, at best, either a Sunni or Shia theocratic tyranny, almost certainly the former.
  • There are no genuine, life-and-death U.S. interests at risk in Syria and Iraq. Whichever sect forms a government in Damascus and Baghdad — and in Kabul, for that matter — will become enslaved to the needs of governing, while still fighting an Islamist insurgency. Road construction, re-electrification, restoring irrigation systems, oil production, providing potable water and medical care, rebuilding war damage, and a hundred other tasks will — with the IS insurgency — consume both its attention and meager resources. And if the Islamists succeed in rebuilding anything, they also acquire (a) something they do not want to lose, and (b) items that give even your generals a target they can understand: easily visible, immobile, and susceptible to air power. If a future Islamist government in Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan becomes a threat to any genuine U.S. interest, an intense U.S. aerial campaign can demolish any reconstruction the Islamists have done in a matter of weeks, and thereby return them to trying to fight the IS insurgency and apostate-atheist forces, as well as to govern an again destitute population.
  • There are no reasons why the U.S. government should take any actions to get the Russians and Iranians to withdraw from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Rather, it should be making every effort to ensure that Russia and Iran remain players in all three. Russia’s President Putin leads a country that is an economic shambles, a demographic nightmare, and, increasingly, a top priority target for the Islamists. Putin, instead of waging a short, decisive campaign in Syria, has pulled Russia’s military punch and is now stuck. Our withdrawal from Syria would leave him stuck fast, and he still has a mandatory and surely fiscally disastrous military intervention to conduct in Afghanistan. Mr. Putin, in reality, is containing himself and Russia without any assistance from the West. Regarding Iran, the mullahs will ensure their own demise if they try to create the Iran-to-the Mediterranean Shia imperium that your generals, the Necons, and Israel-First and their mainstream media shills are always howling warnings about. Any effort by Iran to acquire and maintain this kind of empire will pit 200 million Shia against 1.58 billion Sunnis in a sectarian war which would seem to favor the Sunnis.

Mr. President, you were right during the campaign, your instincts about America’s Islam war are far better than those of your generals. Indeed, you would be better off speaking — with no generals present — to some serving and recently retired or separated field officers and gunnery sergeants. These men and women have actually risked their lives in combat against the Islamists, and they would give you the true skinny about what the republic is facing and why it is in danger of getting stuck like Putin. This is a benefit you will never derive from listening to your generals.

There is, Mr. President, no upside in continuing and expanding U.S. military intervention in Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan. The only things to be gained for the republic in such a continuation are more dead and maimed military personnel, more debt, more Islamist hatred and domestic attacks, and — if you are, as North said, listening to your generals — more humiliating military defeats. Perhaps the last chance for America to again become, as you say, “great,” will be lost if you discard America First’s non-interventionism, which you know is the key to the republic’s survival, and thereby ensnare U.S. forces in the murderous and none-of-our-business Syria-Iraq-Afghanistan morass.

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.