Syria · The best of Pat Buchanan

Lessons of Aleppo — for Trump

Pat Buchanan is right on the money here and President- elect Trump could do worse than listen to this good advice.

“Lessons of Aleppo- for Trump”, Pat Buchanan, December 15, 2016:

In this world, it is often dangerous to be an enemy of the United States, said Henry Kissinger in 1968, but to be a friend is fatal.

The South Vietnamese would come to appreciate the insight.

So it is today with Aleppo, where savage reprisals against U.S.-backed rebels are taking place in that hellhole of human rights.

Yet, again, the wrong lessons are being drawn from the disaster.

According to The Washington Post, the bloodbath is a result of a U.S. failure to intervene more decisively in Syria’s civil war: “Aleppo represents a meltdown of the West’s moral and political will — and … a collapse of U.S. leadership.

“By refusing to intervene against the Assad regime’s atrocities, or even to enforce the ‘red line’ he declared on the use of chemical weapons, President Obama created a vacuum that was filled by Vladimir Putin and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.”

But the blunder was not in staying out of Syria’s civil war, but in going in. Aleppo is a bloodbath born of interventionism.

On Aug. 18, 2011, President Obama said, “For the sake of the Syrian people the time has come for President Assad to step aside.” Western leaders echoed the Obama — “Assad must go!”

Assad, however, declined to go, and crushed an Arab Spring uprising of the kind that had ousted Hosni Mubarak in Cairo. When the U.S. began to fund and train rebels to overthrow him, Assad rallied his troops and began bringing in allies — Hezbollah, Iran and Russia.

It was with their indispensable assistance that he recaptured Aleppo in the decisive battle of the war. And now America has lost credibility all over the Arab and Muslim world.

How did this debacle come about?

First, in calling for the overthrow of Bashar Assad, who had not attacked or threatened us, we acted not in our national interests, but out of democratist ideology. Assad is a dictator. Dictators are bad. So Assad must go.

Yet we had no idea who would replace him.

It soon became clear that Assad’s most formidable enemies, and probable successors, would be the al-Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaida, or ISIS, then carrying out grisly executions in their base camp in Raqqa.

U.S. policy became to back the “good” rebels in Aleppo, bomb the “bad” rebels in Raqqa and demand that Assad depart. An absurd policy.

Nor had the American people been consulted.

After a decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they saw no U.S. vital interests at risk in who ruled Damascus, so long as it was not the terrorists of ISIS or al-Qaida.

Then came Obama’s “red line” warning: The U.S. would take military action if chemical weapons were used in Syria’s civil war.

What undercut this ultimatum was that Congress had never authorized the president to take military action against Syria, and the American people wanted to stay out of Syria’s civil war.

When Assad allegedly used chemical weapons and Obama threatened air strikes, the nation rose as one to demand that Congress keep us out of the war. Secretary of State John Kerry was reduced to assuring us that any U.S. strike would be “unbelievably small.”

By 2015, as Assad army’s seemed to be breaking, Vladimir Putin boldly stepped in with air power, alongside Hezbollah and Iran. Why? Because all have vital interests in preserving the Assad regime.

Bashar Assad is Russia’s ally and provides Putin with his sole naval base in the Med. Assad’s regime is the source of Hezbollah’s resupply and weapons to deter, and, if necessary, fight Israel.

To Iran, Assad is an ally against Saudi Arabia and the Sunni awakening and a crucial link in the Shiite Crescent that extends from Tehran to Baghdad to Damascus to Beirut.

All have greater stakes in this civil war than do we, and have been willing to invest more time, blood and treasure. Thus they have, so far, prevailed.

The lessons for Trump from the Aleppo disaster?

Do not even consider getting into a new Middle East war — unless Congress votes to authorize it, the American people are united behind it, vital U.S. interests are clearly imperiled, and we know how the war ends and when we can come home.

For wars have a habit of destroying presidencies.

Korea broke Truman. Vietnam broke Lyndon Johnson. Iraq broke the Republican Congress in 2006 and gave us Obama in 2008.

And the Iran war now being talked up in the think tanks and on the op-ed pages would be the end of the Trump presidency.

Before starting such a war, Donald Trump might call in Bob Gates and ask him what he meant at West Point in February 2011 when he told the cadets:

“Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it.”

7 thoughts on “Lessons of Aleppo — for Trump

  1. Well, we can like, agree or disagree all we want, but the statistics do not lie. 90% civilian casualty rate in Iraq 2. That is a shocking bit of butchery. Further, it doesn’t detail that those are the people who suffered not just under Saddam but under our stupid cat and mouse UN sanctions through the Clinton years.

    Our atrocities feed those in the West who want to attack the West and gives them “ammo”. We are in essence slaughtering our credibility with this stupidity.

    The CIA is out of control and can be guaranteed to make a mess of situations better left alone, and there is simply far too much money making going on in armaments and reconstruction.

  2. I don’t think Trump will go down that road. He will deal with them on a financial and business basis to get things done. We don’t need another war in that area. We need to attack ISIS and rid the world of that scourge. I think Puty and Assad will be with us on that one.

  3. I really like Pat Buchanan. He was marginalized during the Bush years and we all know how that disaster went – twice! He breaks it down simply and effectively.

    However, I would go a step further and adapt the simple ideology of Ron Paul: “We need to learn to mind our own business!”

    Having just watched John Pilger (fantastic & recommended) “The War You Don’t See”, it seems to me Conservatives need to thoroughly reject the war-mongering machine gun diplomacy and really focus on peace through strength and exporting our values, skills and systems to regions where we can, and stop putting a gun to everybody’s head that they must be with us or against us.

    The world has come to hate us and with good reason. Civilian casualties in WW1 were 10%. By WW2 they were 50%. In Vietnam they were 70%. During the Iraq war they were 90%. We have become totally out of control butchers of innocents. This is especially tragic not only because it allows our own civilian misgivings to be used against us politically internally, but for heaven’s sake do we not have the stealth technology to almost be invisible and achieve our objectives without disruption?

    Why such bloodbath carnage? It seems the very definition of evil and Conservatives must chart their moral compass 180 degrees from that.

    1. Ok so I just don’t agree that the west has become totally out of control butchers of innocents. But conservatives do have a lot to learn and we would but a lot stronger as countries I we didn’t go into this nation building rubbish. Syria was a disaster, but let’s not forget that Libya was equally catastrophic in creating the migrant crisis that threatens the West. These 2 wars were such disasters they were equivalent to the Iraq war. Thanks for your comment!

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