Before United States President Donald Trump announced US forces would quickly withdraw from Syria. Kurdish forces, who have done the bulk of the dirty work on the frontlines against ISIS in the middle east ‘had been gearing up for a new fight for weeks, digging trenches and defense tunnels in northeastern Syria in preparation for an offensive,’ according to the Associated Press.
US military personnel were bringing in reinforcements through Iraq, hoping to prevent conflict between Turks and their Kurdish partners on the ground. The Associated Press continues to say the US forces ‘were as surprised as we are’ quoting Mustafa Bali, spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
US Media Reaction
The largest independent news media in the world, The Young Turks featured a lengthy conversation in which they detailed the nuance surrounding the situation including the US military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, how the withdrawal hurts the profit margins of weapon manufacturers, who may have influenced President Trump’s decision, and the lack of the progressive position on the issue being presented on television.
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“I think the Kurdish position could be precarious. I think we should be extraordinarily careful about that. If we made promises to the Kurds and now we are not delivering on them…first of all that would be Trump 101, but that isn’t what America should do, but that doesn’t mean America should stay in Syria forever,” said The Young Turks Founder, Main Show Co-Host Cenk Uygur during the conversation. “The correct answer is that yes we should definitely leave, but we should be very careful in how we leave, including making sure we support the Kurds who supported us,” he continued.
“It’s not just about Russia there’s another country involved and that country is Turkey,” Main Show Co-Host, and No Filter Host Ana Kasparian began later during the program. “Trump had a call with Erdogan only a few days prior to his decision to pull troops out of Syria. That’s relevant because the United States just agreed to sell weapons to Turkey,” she continued.
“So there are two countries involved here there both involved in the ongoing conflict in Syria, but more importantly they may have some corrupt influences on our President. While the decision to pull the troops out, we believe is the right decision [The Young Turks] what influenced him could be a problem,” Ana added.
Television news media from MSNBC to Fox News have largely attacked President Trump’s decision without having a detailed conversation of how US pre-emptive intervention in the middle east played a role in the current Syrian humanitarian and displacement crisis.
What Happens From Here?
Jim Mattis stepped down from his US Secretary Of Defense position, one day after President Trump made the change to his policy on Syria. His blunt resignation letter explains his reasoning:
Dear Mr President:
I have been privileged to serve as our country’s 26th Secretary of Defense which has allowed me to serve alongside our men and women of the Department in defense of our citizens and our ideals.
I am proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years on some of the key goals articulated in our National Defense Strategy: putting the Department on a more sound budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces, and reforming the Department’s business practices for greater performance. Our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in conflict and sustain strong US global influence.
One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies. Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world. Instead, we must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances. 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America. The Defeat-ISIS coalition of 74 nations is further proof.
Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies. That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.
My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.
Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position. The end date for my tenure is February 28, 2019, a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed as well as to make sure the Department’s interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events to include Congressional posture hearings and the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in February. Further, that a full transition to a new Secretary of Defense occurs well in advance of the transition of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September in order to ensure stability within the Department.
I pledge my full effort to a smooth transition that ensures the needs and interests of the 2.15 million Service Members and 732,079 civilians receive undistracted attention of the Department at all times so that they can fulfill their critical, round-the-clock mission to protect the American people.
I very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform.
Jim N Mattis
Mattis joins a long list of Trump officials who have been fired or resigned. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, Director of Ice Tom Homan, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley are just several names to have left an administration rarely without drama.
Mattis is the first Defense secretary to resign in protest, highlighting the abnormally high rate of turnover within the administration.