With rancor and recriminations over America’s withdrawing our protection to the Kurds in Syria (the Peshmerga) that resulting in the Turkish invasion now underway, it is illuminating to reflect on how we got into Syria in the first place. But the grand-strategy view makes hope for clarity even more ridiculous; we find ourselves in a confrontation with a NATO ally, for trying to protect an autocratic terrorist-supporting group, after necessitating its rise, because we destabilized the Middle East on a crusade to fight terror through the forced implementation of democracy.

Tensions with Turkey are at the point where we fear for the safety of the nuclear weapons we have stored there (incredibly, nuclear war tensions will re-occur in our reflective retrospective). NATO is gagged from its usual proclamations on ethnic cleansing by Turkey’s threat to inundate Europe with the refugees they plan to repatriate to the areas they are attacking. Which country do we level the ethnic-cleansing charge against? Turkey, Syria, and the European Union all might qualify. We haven’t begun to discuss cancelling our mutual defense treaty with the nation that holds our nuclear power hostage, but we will mull economic sanctions against it.

This all started during the Arab Spring demonstrations (a consequence of American intervention), when Bashir Al-Assad crushed his protestors. Hillary Clinton (HRC), then Secretary of State, got ahead of the Obama administration’s messaging when she declared the USA would not stand for Assad’s human rights abuses. She never specified what this meant, meaning that contradiction and confusion started the suck on Syrian policy.

Assad, knowing we would never be ISIS’s Air Force, concentrated on destroying moderate factions, and defeated them in detail. So much for sustaining democracy (“we will fuck Assad with America’s dick,” tweeted one of the ISIS Jihadis). Assad was then free to turn on ISIS, who helpfully (to Assad) warred on neutral (in deed) nations]3. The strategy would ultimately win him the war.

So began the international round-robin of bombing ISIS, giving the civilian-slaughtering Syrian air force a much needed rest. This phase of the suck culminated in HRC threatening (during the Presidential debate) to confront Russia (raising nuclear war tensions) for the privilege of bombing ISIS, when Russia was just the black horse on the world’s ISIS-bombing carousel. To add more peril, our troops fought a pitched battle with Russian mercenaries in Syria. What goal were we pursing that justifies a reheated Cold War? Nobody knew.

Then there was that time President Obama failed to parse his own message when he mentioned that Syrian use of chemical weapons would introduce a new element to the conflict. This got twisted by partisan/media distortion into a threat he never made. When put to a vote, Americans wanted no part of further Syrian involvement (the wars were for Democracy, remember?), yet there we were, sucked more deeply into Syria, and eyeball to eyeball with our most powerful foe.

We had to turn to the Peshmerga to combat ISIS when our expensively trained Iraqi Army(1.5 billion dollars worth) disintegrated the way they it always has. The Peshmerga wound up chasing ISIS into Syria.

That sucked us into the position we are in now: telling the Peshmerga they must not persist in occupying a nation they were never invited into. President Trump now taking his turn in the partisan/media distortion field, his policy (clumsy as it is/was) turned into “betrayal.”

But all of our seemingly permanent political class must know perfectly well we never gave any security guarantees to Kurdish forces in Syria. When Iraq asked us to withdraw our forces from their country, we withdrew. We did the same in the Philippines. Japan periodically considers asking the same. A Turkish invasion of Kurdish territory in Iraq would be a true red line (as well as a unique bit of clarity).

Then there is the complication of Kurdish terrorism. Every intelligence agency in the world categorizes the PKK, the kernel of Kurdish military power, as a terrorist group. Terrorism must always be de-legitimizing: the poor folks in Turkey that get caught in a PKK car bombing have as little to do with Turkish policy as the New Yorkers caught in the 9/11 atrocity do.

Another cloud to clarity is the question of the American energy independence that would free us of this region, which has not produced a single faction upholding the values we went to war to seed, in three-quarters of a generation of trying. That independence means natural gas. Gas has the added benefit of replacing the oil that fuels the wars, as much as it carbonizes the planet. You’d think this would be as agreeable to the European-leaning NATO as much as to our green-leaning Democrats. It would check Russia in a way killing their “green men” could never do. But Democratic front runner Elizabeth Warren promises gas production will be summarily banned on her first day as President.

The last irony: with an impeachment of the President for using foreign policy as a political tool imminent, who wants to bet me the Democratic Presidential nominee will not resist scoring points by waving a Kurdish genocide bloody shirt on the campaign trail?

author’s note: this bit was written on 10/10/2019. So, the bet was lost before proposed, and the winner is Joe Biden.

author’s note: 10/16/2019, The Peshmerga, the regular Syrian Army, and the Russians now ally against Turkey’s invasion. More undefined peril and pointless-as-it-is-opaque destruction will no doubt follow.

author’s note: as of 10/17/19, 22:30 hours, a ceasefire to allow a withdrawal of Kurdish forces has been implemented.

Eugene Darden Nicholas

About Eugene Darden Nicholas

Eugene Darden (Ed) Nicholas is from Flushing Queens, where he grew up sheltered from the hard world, learning the true things after graduating college and becoming a paramedic in Harlem. School continues to inform and entertain in all its true, Shakespearean glory. It's a lot of fun, really. In that career, dozens of people walk the earth now who would not be otherwise. (The number depends on how literally or figuratively you choose to add). He added a beloved wife to his little family, which is healthy. He is also well blessed in friends and colleagues.


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