Trump has learned the hard way that Reality TV Show blustering is not only an unsuitable demeanor for a President, but a disaster in foreign policy. A new reality is emerging publicly, very slowly like an iceberg in fog, where 90% of what is going on is beneath the surface. We have been digging deep at Veterans Today to find out what is happening. Here it is.
The Trump administration, after the sea-launched missile attack on Syria, has suffered a number of reverses, starting with the Pentagon finding the attack unsupportable. Last week Trump agreed, with pressure from the generals, to end all personal involvement in Iraq and Syria. All American forces decisions for those two areas will now be made at the Pentagon.
There is a silver lining in this for Trump. If a disaster happens in either place, he can blame it on the generals. This is part of another shift going on with Trump, “layering himself up” by delegating decision authority so that mistakes can be dealt with by firing people – something Trump has a proven talent at, and maybe his only talent.
Why did the generals put the squeeze on Trump? Our Pentagon sources tell us one big reason was their humiliation at having to watching the Turks bomb US-backed Kurdish units in north Syria. The backdrop for this had been Putin’s canceling the air cooperation agreement with the US after the Syrian missile strike.
I have to add that, so far, there is no investigation into the alleged Khan Shaykhun sarin gassing, where the evidence collected would be admissible in a US court of law by being able to prove that the evidence had not been planted or tampered with. All efforts by Syria and Russia to have such a real investigation have been blocked by the US. Imagine that.
Erdogan was able to do this because the US was no longer able to provide air support for its forces fighting ISI after the air cooperation agreement was ended. This brought the Raqqa offensive down to a snail’s pace, and ISIS got a chance to rest, tighten its lines and prepare better for the coming battle. The vast US investment into making the Raqqa campaign, with its surrogate Kurdish forces, the shining star of the US-controlled ground operation basically fizzled out.
Erdogan saw a greater threat in the US not only supporting the Kurds, but training them in combined operations with modern equipment. Unmentioned publicly is that one of the reasons the Kurds are fighting and dying to take Raqqa, an historically Arab city, is because the US is making a real army out of them and is planning to remain there for some time.
This of course would drive Erdogan crazy. So his air attacks, basically on a NATO ally, was his way of showing his displeasure to a US Pentagon that was caught with its pants down. This is the last thing that multi-star generals want on their combat records – that they got flanked by a dumb move by their own rookie President pretending he understands what is going on.
But the blowback on the Syrian missile attack is having a ripple effect. Lavrov made a surprising trip to Jordan, a country where the US has quietly built up an armored division to open a new front on Damascus when it chooses. The Saudis are funding the manpower and running the operation out of their large embassy in Jordan, which has a vast underground war operations command center, populated with officers from a number of anti-Syria countries.
But the biggest part of the blowback has been the quick and public announcement by Russia to help Syria improve its air defenses to the S-400 level, which will be the end of Israel being able to fly any mission strikes that it wants into Syria. It would make any future airstrikes by the US unlikely, as the losses would make both the White House and military look bad for making a poorly planned move.
Russia’s announcement was quickly followed by Turkey coming to a quick agreement to buy the S-400 system from Russia, also. Turkey is stepping away from NATO with this move; and the US strengthening the Kurdish army on Turkey’s border had more than a little to do with it. With these missiles in place, if Turkey wants to attack Kurdish positions inside Syria, it has much less to fear from US retaliation. Erdogan has even said there will be more such attacks against the Syrian Kurds, so we have a ticking time bomb here.
This messy situation resulted in some quick behind-the-scenes diplomacy, where Trump apologized to Russia for the Syrian missile attack and agreed not to do it again. The Russians reinstituted their air cooperation agreement, and the US planes went back to bombing ISIS positions around Raqqa, with the reports of civilians being killed in some of attacks filtering into the news.
As a token retaliation toward the Turkish airstrikes, we have seen widely publicized, joint US-Kurdish armored patrols along the Turkish border. The Kurds in Northern Syria do not think this is enough because their people were not only killed but Erdogan gloated over it, as he called it an airstrike on terrorists – just like the US has been doing in Syria without that country’s permission. The Turks can hide behind the US’ precedent.
The cherry on top was Russia’s Gazprom announcement that it will begin laying the Southstream pipeline this summer and will have the first two lines completed to the Turkey-Greek border by 2019. So while some are stalling for time, still hoping to wear Syria down into submission and Balkanize it, partially so the Gulf States would get their long dreamed of pipeline to Europe, we see the shifting sands of the Mideast putting Turkey in the front runner slot for being the region’s energy hub.
Putin getting a major NATO country like Turkey as an S-400 customer is a big coup, because arms exports are a key factor in Russia’s funding its military modernization and continued state-of-the-art weapons technology development. When it is confronted by a NATO outspending it ten to one on military expenditures, Russia has to get the maximum value that it can, just to maintain a credible deterrent and defense.
The endless claims of the “Russian Threat” have been the replacement for the now-debunked Iranian nuclear weapons program hoax. Not even Israel, who had claimed for over two decades that Iran was only a year or two away from having “the bomb”, was able to lay one shred of real evidence on the table to kill the P5+1 deal, because it had been lying the whole time.
It is my personal opinion that these huge fake threat hoaxes rise to the level of a crime against humanity, as their purpose is to create false conditions to justify a preemptive-strike war. I find the archives of Western media and think tanks completely empty on this topic. Perhaps now is the time to change that.
Jim W. Dean, managing editor for Veterans Today, producer/host of Heritage TV Atlanta, specially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.