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Gabbard calls Hillary "queen of warmongers," from Peter Myers

Gabbard calls Hillary "queen of warmongers" says 'Russian asset'  remarks are 'smear campaign'

(1) Gabbard calls Hillary "queen of warmongers" says 'Russian asset'  remarks are 'smear campaign'

(2) Gabbard Hammers Hillary

(3) Clinton and Gabbard exchange insults - WaPo

(4) Gabbard: Clinton 'personifies rot that has sickened Democratic party'

(5) Warren and Sanders Are Not the Same

(6) Trump’s Chaotic Syria Exit Puts Anti-War 2020 Democrats In A Delicate Spot

(7) Economist protests US departure from Syria

(8) Democrats attack Trump for abandoning the Kurds—but want U.S. to pull out of Afghanistan - Peter Beinart

(9) Democrats in an awkward position of defending U.S. forever wars

(10) Kurdish PKK/YPG troops join the Syrian army; MSM beatup Trump's withdrawal


(1) Gabbard calls Hillary "queen of warmongers" says 'Russian asset'  remarks are 'smear campaign'

Gabbard says Clinton 'Russian asset' remarks are part of 'smear campaign' as 2020 Dems voice support

By Julia Musto, Vandana Rambaran | Fox News

Tulsi Gabbard blasts Hillary Clinton for suggesting Russia is grooming her to run as third-party candidate

Presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard says Hillary Clinton represents warmongering and corruption.

Rep.Tulsi Gabbard, D-H.I. accused Hillary Clinton "and her proxies" of starting a "smear campaign that has been waged against me and my candidacy and my campaign from the very first day that we began," pushing back on accusations that she is a "Russian asset."

"This smear campaign is coming from people like Hillary Clinton and her proxies, the foreign policy establishment, the military industrial complex, who obviously feel threatened by my message and by my campaign because they know that they can't control me," she told an NBC reporter on Saturday.

When asked if she would disavow support from foreign entities, including an official Twitter account of the Russian Embassy who has circulated support for the candidate online, in order to quell American fear of foreign interference in elections, Gabbard responded: "This is not about Russia."

"Foreign interference in our election is not a good thing. But what we're seeing, this is not about Russia," she said.

"I don't control them. I don't control what anyone else says or does. All I can do is focus on the message that I am bringing to this campaign," she added.

In a podcast with former Obama adviser David Plouffe, Clinton said she wasn't "making any predictions, but [she thinks Russians] have got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate."

"She's the favorite of the Russians" she added, saying they "have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far."

Gabbard lashed out at Clinton on Twitter Friday calling her the "queen of warmongers [and the] embodiment of corruption" in response to the allegations.

She also told Fox News' Tucker Carlson on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" that the former Secretary of State is waging a smear campaign against her because "she knows she can't control me."

She accused Clinton of having "blood on her hands" after the Iraq war she "championed."

"Their blood is on her hands. That's why she's smearing my character and trying to undermine my campaign," Gabbard said.

Gabbard received an outpouring of support from fellow 2020 Democratic candidates including  Marianne Williamson, Andrew Yang and Beto O'Rourke.

Yang wrote in a tweet: "Tulsi Gabbard deserves much more respect and thanks than this. She literally just got back from serving our country abroad."

 Andrew Yang?? @AndrewYang 

Tulsi Gabbard deserves much more respect and thanks than this. She literally just got back from serving our country abroad.

11:47 AM - Oct 19, 2019

Williamson chimed in: "The Democratic establishment has got to stop smearing women it finds inconvenient!" Adding, "the character assassination of women who don't toe the party line will backfire."

 Marianne Williamson @marwilliamson 

The Democratic establishment has got to stop smearing women it finds inconvenient! The character assassination of women who don’t toe the party line will backfire. Stay strong @TulsiGabbard . You deserve respect and you have mine.

2:08 PM - Oct 19, 2019

"You deserve respect and you have mine," she told Gabbard.

Meanwhile, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker posted a wide-eyed gif reacting to Gabbard's rebuttal.

 Cory Booker @CoryBooker

Tulsi Gabbard @TulsiGabbard

Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a ...

6:53 AM - Oct 19, 2019

O'Rourke, a former Texas congressman, defended Gabbard as well telling reporters "Tulsi is not being groomed by anyone. She is her own person. Obviously has served this country, continues to serve this country in uniform, in Congress, as a candidate for presidency so I think those facts speak for themselves."

 The Hill @thehill  .@BetoORourke on @TulsiGabbard:

"Tulsi is not being groomed by anyone. She is her own person. Obviously has served this country, continues to serve this country in uniform, in Congress, as a candidate for presidency so I think those facts speak for themselves."

Clinton has since backed out of a speaking appearance at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit, where Gabbard was scheduled to speak.

Julia Musto is a reporter for


(2) Gabbard Hammers Hillary

Sat, 10/19/2019 - 12:00

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog,

Tulsi Gabbard has stones. She has the kind of stones born of a life dedicated to the cause of serving others.

She is the direct opposite of Hillary Clinton, for whom all causes serve herself and her enormous narcissism and pathology.

So seeing Gabbard go directly after Hillary Clinton after her debate performance the other evening where she explicitly called out both the New York Times and CNN (the hosts of the debate) for the hit jobs on her puts to rest any idea she’s someone else’s stalking horse.

Two weeks ago I asked if five tweets from President Trump changed U.S. foreign policy for good, Gabbard does him two better with these three tweets of absolute, Oscar Wilde-like beauty.

    Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a ...     — Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) October 18, 2019

    ... concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and ...     — Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) October 18, 2019

    ... powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose.

    It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.     — Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) October 18, 2019

There is so much goodness to unpack in these tweets it is almost beyond my ability to do so.

Clearly, Gabbard may have real problems with Donald Trump as president but she’s learned very quickly from him that the best way to deal with Hillary and her media quislings is to attack them without mercy.

Gabbard throws down the gauntlet here outing Hillary as the mastermind behind the DNC strategy of allowing the current crop of future losers to fall all over themselves to alienate as many centrist voters as possible.

This paves the way for Hillary to swoop in on her broom, pointed hat in hand, and declare herself the savior of the Democratic Party’s chances to defeat Donald Trump next November.

Remember that leading up to the debate Gabbard was going to boycott the event because it was such a corrupted event and stage-managed to showcase the chosen ‘front-runners’ — Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.

It makes sense to me that she decided at the last minute to join the debate after the Times piece just to ensure she got the national platform to openly call out the corruption in the same breath as attacking Trump for his, to this point, disastrous foreign policy mistakes.

She emerged from that debate as the only candidate with any moral compass capable of pointing in a single direction. Warren made a fool of herself responding with bromides about leaving in the ‘rightt way’ indistinguishable from any other presidential puppet of the last twenty years.

This is two debates in a row where Gabbard came out blazing at the front-runner, claiming a moral and ethical high ground on foreign policy that, at just over half the age of her rivals, that shows a maturity well beyond her years.

Her calling Hillary the “Queen of Warmongers” is so self-evidently true that it will reverberate far beyond Twitter into votes.

And it tells Hillary that Gabbard has zero fear of her and her political machine.

You can’t cow a person without fear who has nothing to lose.

[ZH: And Gabbard was not done - she ripped into Hillary's terrible legacy in a Friday night “Tucker Carlson Tonight” interview.]

    During her discussion with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Gabbard framed Clinton’s opposition as being not only against her candidacy, but against “every veteran in this country, every service member, every American, anyone watching at home fighting for peace and who was calling for an end to these regime change wars.”

    “Ultimately she knows she can’t control me,” Gabbard said, responding to Carlson’s question about why Clinton is taking aim at her. “I stand against everything that she represents and if I’m elected president, if I’m the Democratic nominee and elected president she will not be able to control me. She won’t be able to manipulate me. She won’t be able to continue to work from behind the curtains, to continue these regime change wars that have been so costly.”

    The Democratic presidential candidate said the blood of her “brothers and sisters in uniform” killed in Iraq, a “war she championed,” is “on her hands.”

    “I am calling for an end to these regime change wars. This is why she’s speaking out strongly and smearing my character and trying to undermine my campaign,” she said.

    “Just as she is doing this to me, this is what will happen to anybody who is doing the same.”

    Responding to a question from the Fox News host about the massive media and political opposition from both parties to her foreign policy positions, Gabbard noted that it happened as soon as she announced her candidacy.

    " And now we know exactly why. It’s because I am standing up and speaking out strongly against the Hillary Clinton legacy, the warmongering legacy of waging these regime change wars, continuing to escalate these tensions between the United States, nuclear armed countries like Russia, China, this nuclear arms race bringing more profits to the military-industrial complex. "

Bullies like Hillary never learn that lesson until they are humiliated beyond recognition.

Moreover, when you look at this sequence of events it’s clear that the DNC, Hillary and everyone else close to the corridors of power fear Gabbard’s rise. If they weren’t they wouldn’t be putting out smears in the New York Times.

They wouldn’t be spending millions on social media trolls to discredit her in the public fora.

The first rule of politics is “You never attack down.”

Well, Hillary attacked down. The Times attacked down. The DNC, by gaming the debate rules, attacked down. And that spells disaster for anyone who does it.

Just ask Rudy Guiliani.


(3) Clinton and Gabbard exchange insults - WaPo

Battle lines drawn after Clinton and Gabbard exchange insults

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) reacted after 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton suggested Russia was grooming Gabbard to disrupt the 2020 race. (Reuters)

By Colby Itkowitz

Oct. 20, 2019 at 6:13 a.m. GMT+10

There are fresh battles lines in the 2020 presidential campaign, reflecting an unpredictable rivalry between two Democratic politicians — one who isn’t even running this cycle and another who is polling at barely 1 percent.

It began when former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton suggested this week that current primary contender Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii is being used by the Russians, who could be plotting a third party run to siphon votes from the eventual Democratic nominee. It’s a scenario that Clinton is sensitive to, since she blames Russian election interference and Green Party candidate Jill Stein for her loss to President Trump.

Gabbard, in a scathing response, called Clinton “the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long.”

“It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me,” Gabbard wrote on Twitter. “Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.”

Hillary Clinton compares Russian electoral 'attack' to 9/11 Hillary Clinton said Russian election inference "altered the outcome in enough places," and contrasted President Trump's response to Bush's reaction to 9/11. (The Washington Post) Clinton has not directly responded, but her spokesman, Nick Merrill, told CNN, “If the nesting doll fits.”

Merrill, in an interview Saturday, said Clinton was “not saying Americans are Russian spies but that Russia has found ways to take advantage and is not being held responsible by anyone in government.”

Few outside Clinton’s immediate orbit defended her comments. The closest anyone came was Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who retweeted Gabbard’s reaction to Clinton with a viral GIF from the June debate when he glanced “side eyed” — a look that often conveys shock or disdain — at another candidate. That garnered a reply from Clinton — a viral GIF of her own from a 2016 debate where she exhales, says, “okay,” smiles and shimmies her shoulders.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, whose Iowa bus tour had been overshadowed by the Gabbard-Clinton fight, told reporters on Friday that Clinton could “defend herself, and will.” Asked about the story again on Saturday, she pivoted to talk about her election integrity legislation.

“This is something I’m not getting into right now,” she said. “I will talk about election security, because I think that’s much more significant than any Twitter fight going on right now.”

But two of the nonpoliticians in the Democratic primary, entrepreneur Andrew Yang and author Marianne Williamson, sided with Gabbard.

Yang tweeted that Gabbard, a veteran, “deserves much more respect and thanks than this.” Williamson accused the Democratic establishment of “smearing women it finds inconvenient.”

“The character assassination of women who don’t toe the party line will backfire. Stay strong @TulsiGabbard. You deserve respect and you have mine,” Williamson tweeted.

Notably, Clinton — who made the comments on a podcast hosted by David Plouffe, a former adviser to President Barack Obama — never used Gabbard’s name. But Gabbard is the only female candidate in the Democratic primary who has been accused of having ties to Russia.

“I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton said.

Gabbard has repeatedly ruled out running as a third-party candidate. But she has been courted to run in the general election outside the Democratic Party by activists who believe the two-party system is corrupt and should be cast aside.

Stein has suggested in the past that Gabbard “should become a Green” because her comments were “similar to our message.”

In the podcast interview, Clinton also accused Stein, who won more votes in several states than Trump’s margin of victory over Clinton, of being a tool of the Russians.

“Yes, she’s a Russian asset, I mean, totally,” Clinton said. “They know they can’t win without a third-party candidate.”

President Trump weighed in on on the dispute Saturday afternoon, urging a third party Green Party candidate to run in 2020, which would benefit him by peeling off Democratic voters.

“Crooked Hillary Clinton just called the respected environmentalist and Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, a ‘Russian Asset.’ They need a Green Party more than ever after looking at the Democrats disastrous environmental program!” Trump tweeted.

While it’s unclear why Clinton initiated this fight, the bad blood between her and Gabbard goes back to 2016, when Gabbard quit her post as a Democratic National Committee vice chair so she could endorse Clinton’s primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont.

Gabbard is an unconventional Democrat, whose message of an isolationist foreign policy and willingness to buck the party establishment has gained her fans among the far right. She’s a frequent guest on Fox News, often Tucker Carlson’s show. She went on Friday night to talk to Carlson about her clash with Clinton.

She has also gained a following with some white nationalists. A neo-Nazi website called Daily Stormer said it deserved credit for getting her the support necessary to qualify for the first two debates.

But the main reason many Democrats, including Clinton, are wary of her is because she’s a favorite topic on Russian websites and social media.

“Hillary is absolutely going to continue to call balls and strikes as she sees them because while she knows she was on the receiving end of it in 2016, our 2020 nominee will face the same threat,” said Philippe Reines, a former Clinton adviser.

Gabbard was back on the campaign trail Saturday, holding two town hall meetings in Iowa, including one in the town of Clinton.

David Weigel in Ames, Iowa and Michael Scherer contributed to this story.


(4) Gabbard: Clinton 'personifies rot that has sickened Democratic party'

Gabbard: Clinton 'personifies rot that has sickened Democratic party'

2016 candidate implies 2020 hopeful ‘favorite of the Russians’ Congresswoman fires back in extraordinary intra-party spat Associated Press in Washington

Sat 19 Oct 2019 23.21 AEDT Last modified on Sun 20 Oct 2019 04.55 AEDT

In an interview, Clinton said she believes the Russians have “got their eye on somebody who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate”.

The former senator, secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate did not name Gabbard directly.

But in tweets on Friday, Gabbard called Clinton the “personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long”. Gabbard also alleged there has been a “concerted campaign” to destroy her reputation since she announced her presidential run in January.

“It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me,” Gabbard tweeted about Clinton. “Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.”

There is lingering trepidation in the Democratic party of a repeat of the 2016 race, when Russia interfered in an effort to help Donald Trump defeat Clinton. US intelligence agencies have warned that Russia intends to meddle in 2020. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has mocked that possibility, joking earlier this month that Moscow would “definitely intervene”.

During a Democratic debate on Tuesday, Gabbard criticized a commentator who she said called her “an asset of Russia”. She called the comments “completely despicable”.

Clinton seemed to echo the commentator’s remark during a podcast appearance this week on Campaign HQ with David Plouffe. Plouffe was campaign manager for Barack Obama in 2008 and a senior adviser to the president.

“She’s the favorite of the Russians,” Clinton said, referring to the person she had earlier identified as a woman “who’s currently in the Democratic primary”.

”They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”

Clinton also called Trump “Vladimir Putin’s dream”. She went on to say Trump’s inauguration speech was “like a declaration of war on half of America”. Clinton also described the 2016 Green party presidential candidate Jill Stein as “a Russian asset”.

Gabbard said on CBSN she “will not be leaving the Democratic party. I will not be running as an independent or a third-party candidate.”

Stein, who ran against Trump and Clinton, received about 1% of the vote in the 2016 election. But some Democrats said her candidacy syphoned votes from Clinton and helped Trump win, particularly in states like Wisconsin.

The Senate intelligence committee asked Stein for documents as part of its inquiry into Russian interference in the election because she attended a 2015 dinner in Moscow sponsored by the Russian television network RT, with Putin. Stein has said she attended “with a message of Middle East peace, diplomacy and cooperation”.

In a tweet on Friday, Stein accused Clinton of “peddling conspiracy theories to justify her failure instead of reflecting on real reasons Dems lost in 2016”.


(5) Warren and Sanders Are Not the Same

OCT 16, 2019

No, Warren and Sanders Are Not the Same

When Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., had two heart stents inserted into his arteries in early October, media pundits were quick to foresee the end of his pioneering, movement-based candidacy. Some questioned why it took three days for his family and campaign to confirm the details of his medical condition and others wondered whether age and health would be important factors in his candidacy. Given the documented media bias against Sanders, it is certainly not surprising to see Sanders’ health scare exploited to undermine his candidacy. (Sanders, on the other hand, in his typical fashion, exploited his situation to demand that health care ought to be “a human right.”)

Los Angeles Times opinion writer Rich Benjamin pushed the bias further by saying, “any perception of fatigue and frailty can undercut his effectiveness in competing for the nomination and in the dogfight against Trump if he does beat the rest of the Democratic field.” Benjamin demanded that it was time for “Bernie and his bros”—using a sexist, racist and discredited smear that assumes Sanders’ supporters are mostly pig-headed white men—“to get behind Elizabeth Warren.” In fact, men and women are roughly evenly split among Sanders’ supporters, and people of color are more likely than whites to back him.

Benjamin is echoing a sentiment that has been gaining traction: that Warren is a good enough emulation of Sanders and has adopted enough of his progressive policy proposals for Sanders’ supporters to unreservedly support her. But while a Warren nomination would certainly be a strong sign of progress, particularly in the era of Donald Trump, there are serious distinctions between Sanders and Warren that should not be dismissed.

For example, on health care, although they both back the idea of a “Medicare for All” plan, Warren and Sanders do not take identical positions. Health care is the most important issue for the American electorate. During Tuesday’s Democratic presidential candidate debate, Warren repeatedly avoided admitting that backing a Medicare for All plan would mean that taxes would go up across the board. She sidestepped questions twice, saying, “I will not sign a bill into law that raises their costs, because costs are what people care about.”

But in fact, people care about getting the health care they need more than anything. According to a new poll released on the same day as the debate, “Fifty-six percent of Americans think providing access to affordable health care coverage for all Americans is the responsibility of the federal government, and two-thirds favor the creation of a national, government-administered health insurance plan similar to Medicare that would be available to all Americans.” writer Tara Golshan explained that although Warren has endorsed Sanders’ health care plan, “she speaks about Medicare-for-all more in terms of expanding public options for health care, rather than eliminating private insurance altogether.”

Sanders, on the other hand, was far more candid about the cost of his plan during the debate, saying, “I do think it is appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up. They’re going to go up significantly for the wealthy. And for virtually everybody, the tax increase they pay will be substantially less — substantially less than what they were paying for premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.” By acknowledging that taxes will go up while premiums, co-payments, deductibles and “all out-of-pocket expenses are gone,” Sanders was far more honest about what his bill to expand Medicare to every American would entail while also demolishing the right-wing argument about high costs. Later in the debate, he went further and slammed the Democratic Party, challenging it to have “the guts to stand up to the health care industry, which made $100 billion in profit.”

There are differences in other policies too. For example, Sanders’ plan to tax the wealthiest Americans goes much further than Warren’s. His tax rate for billionaires is more than twice that of Warren’s, leading one commentator to declare that Sanders’ plan to tax extreme wealth “makes Warren’s wealth tax look moderate.” Sanders has even said he doesn’t think billionaires should exist.

It has become more and more apparent that Sanders is the only Democratic candidate to have a lengthy track record on progressive politics, compared to those who have discovered their progressive backbones more recently, because they know it plays well to the party’s left-leaning base. Seven years ago, Warren did not back Medicare for All, and 23 years ago she was a registered Republican. In fact, she maintains she is an avowed capitalist. Meanwhile, Sanders has been backing the idea of a Medicare plan expanded to all Americans for at least 10 years. He has been calling himself a socialist for decades, and he most recently distinguished himself from Warren’s self-proclaimed capitalist label in an interview.

When Sanders ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, media outlets ignored him until he began winning primaries, and even then, experts routinely underestimated his pull and popularity. Progressives were thrilled to finally see a bona fide leftist candidate on a national stage echoing the issues that we longed to hear about, analyzed in ways that targeted corporate profiteers.

After the election ended, the movement that was borne from his candidacy flourished and proliferated into multiple organizations determined to challenge establishment politics from inside and outside the electoral system. Among the successes of that movement was the 2018 election of the outspoken and staunchly progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

While recent polls show Sanders’ popularity as a candidate dipping a few percentage points behind Warren, his performance this week during the Democratic debate (including his characteristic dismissal of concern over the state of his health, saying only that he was “healthy” and “feeling great”), may bump his numbers up in the next poll. Perhaps even more important is the announcement that Ocasio-Cortez will be endorsing his candidacy. Both Warren and Sanders had sought the endorsement of the young and very popular progressive Democrat, and now that Sanders has clinched it, it may well boost his standing.

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who are considered part of the four-member “squad” of prominent progressive congresswomen of color, have also decided to throw their weight behind the Vermont senator. Sanders and Omar just co-sponsored a bill to feed all schoolchildren three free meals a day regardless of income. Clearly Ocasio-Cortez, Omar and Tlaib see a distinction between Warren and Sanders.

There is one thing Warren has going for her over Sanders: She’s far more charismatic than he is. At a recent LGBTQ event in Los Angeles, Warren won over the crowd when she was asked how she might respond to a supporter who claimed that marriage should be between one man and one woman. She replied, “I’m going to assume it is a guy who said that. And I’m going to say, ‘Well, then just marry one woman. I’m cool with that.'” With the perfect timing of an improv artist, she waited for applause and added, “Assuming you can find one”—which of course resulted in even more applause.

Yes, Warren’s candidacy would be huge step in the right direction for the United States in the Trump era—especially if she were the most progressive front-runner in the race. But she’s not. In fact, she is arguably being pulled to the left by Sanders’ candidacy. CNBC’s Jim Cramer suggested that if Sanders dropped out of the race, “she doesn’t have to be worried about that [far-left] flank anymore.” So, do progressives want the candidate who may be feeling pressured to move to the left or the person whose candidacy is setting the progressive standard?


(6) Trump’s Chaotic Syria Exit Puts Anti-War 2020 Democrats In A Delicate Spot

Alex Emmons

October 16 2019, 5:31 a.m.

THE PENTAGON announced on Monday that the U.S. was pulling all of its troops out of northeastern Syria at President Donald Trump’s direction, completing a withdrawal he had started by Twitter declaration a week earlier. The move further clears the way for a full-on invasion by Turkey, whose soldiers have already been accused of executing noncombatants. In the chaos, hundreds of Islamic State detainees have reportedly escaped.

Trump defended his decision in a series of early-morning tweets on Monday. “The same people who got us into the Middle East mess are the people who most want to stay there!” he wrote. “Never ending wars will end!”

Trump’s abandonment of eastern Syria and the U.S. military’s Kurdish allies has put progressive Democrats — many of whom also favor withdrawing from overseas military operations — in a delicate spot. Over the past week, they have been trying to thread the needle between condemning Trump for recklessly abandoning an ally and emphasizing that withdrawing U.S. troops should be an eventual policy goal.

Trump’s decision has showcased what a worst-case scenario for expedited military withdrawal could look like, making it harder for progressive Democratic presidential candidates like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to press their cases against “endless wars” on the campaign trail. The question of how progressives can go about drawing down U.S. military commitments without repeating Trump’s calamitous actions would be an obvious pick for Tuesday night’s Democratic debate.

So far, the Democratic candidates have been critical of Trump but light on specifics about what they would do differently. Last week, Sanders condemned Trump’s withdrawal from Syria, telling reporters that “as somebody who does not want to see American troops bogged down in countries all over the world — you don’t turn your back on allies who have fought and died alongside American troops. You just don’t do that.” But when George Stephanopoulos asked Sunday morning on ABC for Sanders to explain the difference between his and Trump’s approaches, Sanders responded simply that Trump “lies. I don’t.”

Warren’s response was similarly vague. Ro Khanna, a Democratic representative from California and co-chair of Sanders’s 2020 campaign, told The Intercept that progressives urgently need to make the case for a “doctrine of responsible withdrawal.”

“I don’t believe that withdrawal from a progressive perspective means a moral indifference to the lives of the places that we leave,” Khanna said in a phone interview. “It’s not an ‘America First’ approach that says our interests and our American lives are the only things that have moral worth. Rather, our withdrawal is based on an understanding of the limitations of American power to shape and restructure societies. It emphasizes the need for effective diplomacy and understands our moral obligations in these places.”

The U.S. should not have withdrawn troops without negotiating a deal that would have kept Turkey from invading Syria, backed by a threat to withhold future arms sales and economic assistance, Khanna told The Intercept. “We could have used all those points of leverage to get their commitment that they wouldn’t slaughter the Kurds.”

Another key difference between Trump’s approach and that of progressives is their level of trust for civil service expertise, Khanna said. “What this shows is that it’s not enough to have a president with certain instincts. Foreign policy requires great expertise. You need a progressive president who understands the importance of military restraint, but who also has the ability to put together an extraordinary foreign policy team to implement the goals that they may have.”

Far from admiring Trump’s approach to Syria, many anti-interventionists and foreign policy experts in D.C. view it as a blueprint for how not to withdraw from a conflict, according to Adam Wunische, a researcher with the Quincy Institute, a new pro-diplomacy, noninterventionist, and nonpartisan think tank.

“What we should have been doing from the very beginning is once we achieved the limited objective of destroying ISIS territory, they should have immediately begun contemplating what kind of peace or settlement could come afterwards,” Wunische told The Intercept. “To my knowledge, the U.S. is one of the only actors that can effectively talk to both the Turks and the Kurds. So they should have been trying to find an acceptable political arrangement for all the parties involved that doesn’t involve an endless, ill-defined military presence for the U.S.”

The Quincy Institute is working on a report outlining a possible plan for U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan that would avoid the type of disorder on display in northeastern Syria, Wunische said, though the timing of the report remains unclear.

Throughout the 2020 Democratic primary campaign, a number of candidates have railed against “endless wars.” But in a conversation that has been defined by intricate domestic policy proposals and detailed outlines of how to structure a wealth tax, candidates have said little about the rest of the world and even less about how they would wind down overseas conflicts.

Sanders, for example, has called for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan “as expeditiously as possible.” Warren has said “it’s long past time to bring our troops home, and I would begin to do so immediately.” Joe Biden has said he would bring “American combat troops in Afghanistan home during my first term,” but left the door open for a “residual U.S. military presence” that would be “focused on counterterrorism operations.” When asked during a July debate whether he would withdraw from Afghanistan during the first year of his presidency, Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend mayor and Navy Reserve veteran who spent seven months in Afghanistan, answered emphatically in the affirmative.

But aside from seeking a diplomatic solution, candidates have said very little about their policies for ending the war. And as in Syria, stakes for U.S. allies in Afghanistan are high.

A January study by the Rand Corporation found that a “precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan” would have far-reaching consequences. The legitimacy for the U.S.-backed Kabul government would plummet, the report argued, and the Taliban would extend its control and influence. People all across the country would turn to regional militias and rival warlords for basic security.

“I don’t think that anyone, whether they promise it or not, is going to get out of Afghanistan in a week,” said Wuinsche. “What we need to focus on is, what is the political solution that we think is possible, and how do we get there? That requires marshaling all of these different tools of foreign policy, not just the military.”

Kate Kizer, policy director for the D.C.-based advocacy group Win Without War, stressed that one of the most revealing differences between progressives and Trump is how they would treat a conflict’s refugees. Under Trump, the U.S. has accepted historically low numbers of refugees and closed the door on future Syrian immigrants applying for Temporary Protected Status.

“One of the cruelest parts of Trump’s policy is the fact that, in addition to fueling more bloodshed with this decision, he’s also banning any types of civilians who would be fleeing from the conflict,” Kizer said. “In a situation like Syria and even Afghanistan, there’s a way to responsibly withdraw and then there’s a way to cut and run, which is what Trump has shown he has a predilection for. But I’m not sitting here saying that any type of military withdraw will necessarily be bloodless.”


(7) Economist protests US departure from Syria

 Things fall apart Turkey’s invasion has thrown a once-stable corner of Syria into chaos Less than a week after America removed its troops, a Kurdish-run fief has collapsed

Oct 14th 2019 | ABU DHABI

ALL OF IT was foreseeable: the death and displacement, the atrocities, the flight of jihadists and the return of a brutal regime. But it has happened more quickly than almost anyone predicted. In the days since Turkey invaded north-east Syria on October 9th, scores of people have been killed and more than 100,000 displaced. A brief Syrian Kurdish experiment in self-rule has come to a crashing halt. Their entity, known as Rojava, is now a carcass to be picked over by the Turks and the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s dictator. Hundreds of Islamic State (IS) supporters, once held by the Kurds, have escaped into the desert scrub.

Small though it may seem, President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw some 100 troops from north-east Syria has reshaped the Levant. It cleared the way for a long-threatened Turkish invasion meant to dislodge the Kurdish-led militia in control of the region. Turkey views the group, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), as a mortal foe because of its ties to the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a long insurgency against the Turkish state.

With America gone the Turks, backed by Syrian rebels under their command (mostly Sunni Arabs), swept across the border and quickly seized a swathe of central Rojava. They control a stretch of the M4, the main east-west highway about 30km south of the border, allowing them to bisect the Kurdish enclave and cut the YPG’s supply lines. Advancing Syrian rebels have already been accused of atrocities. One gruesome video circulated on social media showed giddy militiamen executing a bound Kurdish prisoner on the battlefield. “Photograph me,” one rebel urges the cameraman, before he turns a sniper rifle on the captive.

 Though known as fierce fighters, the Kurds lack armour or air power. Their light infantry stands little chance against a modern Turkish army. Instead of fighting to the death they have asked Mr Assad for protection. For years the YPG, perhaps hedging its bets, tried to avoid open conflict with the regime. And on October 13th the Kurds struck a deal to bring the regime back to the north-east. “If we have to choose between compromises and the genocide of our people, we will surely choose life,” the Kurdish commander, Mazloum Abdi, wrote in an op-ed for Foreign Policy, an American magazine. Mr Assad wasted little time. His troops are already fanning out into territory formerly under YPG control.

While his men moved in, America moved out. On October 13th the defence secretary, Mark Esper, said America would withdraw all 1,000 troops deployed across northern Syria, fearing they would be caught between the Turkish and Syrian armies. Hopeful Pentagon officials still think they might maintain a presence elsewhere. This is wishful thinking. It will be hard to protect and resupply troops. One group of American soldiers already had to flee under Turkish shelling. America does hope to maintain its outpost at Tanf, in the badlands of south-east Syria, which is meant (rather improbably) to constrain Iranian influence in the region. Even that may be impossible, too.

Faced with a crisis of its own making, a flailing superpower has turned to economic sanctions to pretend it is still relevant. Senators have drafted a bill that takes aim at Turkey’s leadership and its armed forces, with apparent support from the president. “There is great consensus on this,” Mr Trump tweeted. Set aside the hypocrisy of America punishing Turkey for an offensive that Mr Trump himself acquiesced to earlier this month. Sanctions will not compel Turkey to halt its invasion. Nor will condemnations from European powers, some of which have also restricted arms sales to Turkey, a fellow NATO member.

If anyone can stop the fighting, it is Vladimir Putin. The Russian president finds himself in an awkward spot. Mr Assad is a client, and Russia is happy for his regime to retake territory. On the other hand, Turkey is a valued friend, and part of a Russian-led effort to find a political agreement that ends Syria’s wider civil war. “Losing Turkey means losing a solution to the Syrian problem,” says a former Russian diplomat. Mr Putin will try to push both sides towards a modus vivendi. Having thrown away his last bit of leverage in Syria, Mr Trump will be a mere bystander. Eight years after Barack Obama called for Mr Assad to go, it is America that is ignominiously leaving Syria.


(8) Democrats attack Trump for abandoning the Kurds—but want U.S. to pull out of Afghanistan - Peter Beinart

Democrats Are Hypocrites for Condemning Trump Over Syria

Presidential hopefuls blasted Trump for abandoning the Kurds—but want the U.S. to pull out of Afghanistan under similar conditions.

6:00 AM ET

Peter Beinart -  Professor of journalism at the City University of New York

On Tuesday night, the Democratic presidential candidates vied with one another to offer the harshest condemnation of President Donald Trump’s abrupt withdrawal of American troops from northern Syria. Joe Biden called it “the most shameful thing that any president has done in modern history … in terms of foreign policy.” Elizabeth Warren said Trump “has cut and run on our allies,” and “created a bigger-than-ever humanitarian crisis.” Kamala Harris announced, “Yet again Donald Trump [is] selling folks out.”

Pete Buttigieg’s denunciation was the most personal. Recalling his military service in Afghanistan, the South Bend, Indiana, mayor asked whether America’s wartime allies would ever trust it again. “When I was deployed,” he declared, “not just the Afghan National Army forces but the janitors put their lives on the line just by working with U.S. forces. I would have a hard time today looking an Afghan civilian or soldier in the eye after what just happened over there” in Syria.

It was a powerful statement—but also an ironic one. Because if Trump’s unilateral, non-negotiated withdrawal from northern Syria makes it harder for Buttigieg to look America’s Afghan allies in the eye, the same might be said of the unilateral, non-negotiated withdrawal that Buttigieg and the other leading Democratic candidates are proposing in Afghanistan itself.

At this week’s debate, Warren explained that the United States should only have withdrawn its troops from northern Syria “through a negotiated solution.” But speaking about Afghanistan last month in Houston, she rejected that very same principle. ABC’s David Muir asked whether she would “bring the [American] troops home starting right now with no deal with the Taliban.” Warren replied, “Yes.”

In Houston, Warren’s rivals also refused to condition America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan on a negotiated deal. When Muir asked Buttigieg whether he would stick to his pledge to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan in his first year despite warnings from top American commanders, Buttigieg ducked the question and insisted that “we have got to put an end to endless war.” Turning to Biden, Muir cited “concerns about any possible vacuum being created in Afghanistan.” But Biden brushed them off, declaring, “We don’t need those troops there. I would bring them home.”

What makes these statements so remarkable is that experts warn that if the United States withdraws its troops from Afghanistan in the absence of a peace agreement, Afghanistan will suffer a fate remarkably similar to what is happening in northern Syria. In this week’s debate, Warren denounced Trump for having “created a bigger-than-ever humanitarian crisis.” But earlier this month, the International Crisis Group warned that, if American troops unilaterally leave Afghanistan, “Afghans could pay a heavy price” as that country’s war “would likely intensify and become more chaotic.” A Rand Corporation report in January predicted that following a unilateral American withdrawal, “civilian deaths will spike, and refugee flows will increase significantly,” and that “the major advances that Afghans have achieved in democracy, press freedom, human rights, women’s emancipation, literacy, longevity, and living standards will be rolled back.” In September, nine former American diplomats with experience in Afghanistan pleaded, “A major withdrawal of US forces should follow, not come in advance of [a] real peace agreement,” or else the United States might “betray all those who have believed our promises or stepped forward with our encouragement to promote democracy and human rights.”

Peter Beinart: The two psychological tricks Trump is using to get away with everything

Afghans themselves have offered equally ominous warnings. In February, two Afghan women—Mariam Safi, who runs the Organization for Policy Research and Development Studies in Kabul, and Muqaddesa Yourish, a commissioner on Afghanistan’s Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission—predicted that “a hasty American withdrawal will jeopardize for Afghans the future of hard-won gains such as constitutional rights, freedoms of citizens and democratic institutions.” In March, Palwasha Hassan, the executive director of the Afghan Women’s Educational Center, urged “a responsible withdrawal that is not at the expense of women’s rights.” And in July, Akram Gizabi, a leader of Afghanistan’s Hazaras, a Shia minority, noted that his people had suffered under the Taliban in “brutal, vicious and unimaginable ways” and that “women and Hazaras [had] thrived after the Taliban.” Now, Gizabi said, Taliban victims “watch with amazement that the United States is busy finding the fastest way out of Afghanistan, while leaving the Afghans to the wolves.”

The parallels between Afghanistan and northern Syria aren’t merely humanitarian. In condemning Trump’s actions in Syria, Warren accused him of having “helped ISIS get another foothold, a new lease on life.” But experts forecast a similar terrorist resurgence if Warren carries out her proposed Afghan withdrawal. Following a unilateral American departure, the Rand report predicts, “extremist groups, including Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, [will] gain additional scope to organize, recruit, and initiate terrorist attacks against U.S. regional and homeland targets.” In their joint statement, the nine former American diplomats envision “an Afghan civil war in which the Islamic State (IS) presence could expand its already strong foothold” and “the Taliban would maintain their alliance with al-Qaeda. All of this could prove catastrophic for US national security as it relates to our fight against both al-Qaeda and IS.”

In Houston, Warren suggested that in the absence of American troops, the United States and its allies could combat terrorism in Afghanistan through “economic investment” and by “expanding our diplomatic efforts.” But Rand maintains that, if American troops leave Afghanistan before a peace agreement, the resulting insecurity will spark “the departure of foreign diplomats, aid agency officers, and other civilians,” including “many of Afghanistan’s most educated and capable citizens.”

In another ugly echo of the current chaos in northern Syria, leaving Afghanistan unilaterally could endanger American troops. The International Crisis Group warns that if the U.S. leaves without a deal, the Taliban “might then be unwilling to allow departing U.S. forces safe passage. Those forces might end up fighting their way out.” The thousand or so personnel at the U.S. embassy in Kabul might have to be evacuated from the building by air, as happened in South Vietnam.

There are, of course, differences between Afghanistan and northern Syria. Afghanistan hosts about 14,000 American troops at an annual cost of roughly $45 billion. And in each of the past five years, the Afghan war has claimed roughly 20 American service members’ lives. In northern Syria, where the United States stationed only 1,000 troops prior to Trump’s recent withdrawal, the financial and human costs were lower. In Afghanistan, U.S. forces are battling a homegrown Taliban rebellion (aided by foreign support), whereas the recent bloodshed in northern Syria is largely the result of a foreign invasion by Turkey (aided by local Syrian allies). In Afghanistan, the United States is defending a government it installed when it overthrew the Taliban in 2001. In Syria, by contrast, the United States was, until Trump’s withdrawal, defending an autonomous zone—known as Rojava—that the Kurds carved out themselves, and then expanded with American help during the war against the Islamic State.

Daniel Nexon: Trump’s a paper tiger, and everyone knows it

If pushed to distinguish their positions on Syria and Afghanistan (which, sadly, didn’t happen at this week’s debate), Democratic candidates might survey these differences and declare that America’s presence in Rojava was sustainable in a way the Afghanistan mission is not. The best argument for a rapid, unconditional American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan is also the harshest. It’s that Afghanistan is doomed either way. Rand, the International Crisis Group, and the former diplomats all suggest that, if the United States makes a deal with the Taliban that conditions America’s withdrawal on a peace agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government, then Afghanistan might survive an eventual American troop departure without collapsing into civil war and again becoming a terrorist sanctuary. At least Americans won’t have to be ferried off the embassy roof via helicopter.

But to the skeptic, all this sounds suspiciously like Henry Kissinger’s request that the North Vietnamese allow a “decent interval” following America’s departure before conquering Saigon. Since America won’t keep its troops in Afghanistan indefinitely, and since the Afghan army will likely crumble once they leave, neither Washington nor Kabul possesses the leverage to make the Taliban keep its promises, even if there is a peace deal. According to a recent report by the Institute for the Study of War, Afghan warlords are already preparing for the civil war they now expect. So why, leading Democratic presidential candidates might ask, should the United States wait around for a negotiated agreement that is unlikely to make a difference? It’s not worth sacrificing any more American lives and spending tens of billions more dollars to delay for a couple of years—and perhaps reduce from 95 percent to 85 percent—the likelihood that Afghanistan descends into hell.

Intellectually, this is a defensible answer. But it’s not an answer the Democratic candidates can easily give. They can’t give it because Democrats aren’t comfortable with the brutal language of unvarnished national interest. They aren’t comfortable acknowledging tragic tradeoffs between the welfare of ordinary Americans and the welfare of vulnerable people overseas. Donald Trump is. He genuinely doesn’t care what happens to the Kurds or the Afghans—or any other group of people who can’t offer him votes or money or project his image onto the side of a luxury hotel. Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Joe Biden do care, which is why they found it so easy to offer ferocious moral denunciations of Trump’s Syria policy at this week’s debate. They just don’t care enough to ask Americans to sacrifice to reduce the chances that Syria’s horrors repeat themselves in Afghanistan.

The trauma of America’s post-9/11 wars, and the reduction in America’s resources, are pushing Democrats toward policies of retrenchment that can only be coherently defended in the language of realism, a language few Democrats speak. And because they don’t speak it, the Democratic candidates for president had better hope that no enterprising moderator asks them about Afghanistan and Syria at the same time.


(9) Democrats in an awkward position of defending U.S. forever wars

Democrats Have No Answer for Trump's Anti-War Posture

OCT 17, 2019 OPINION |

I hate to say I told you so, but well … as predicted, in the wake of Trump’s commanded military withdrawal from northeast Syria, the once U.S.-backed Kurds cut a deal with the Assad regime. (And Vice President Mike Pence has now brokered a five-day cease-fire.) Admittedly, Trump the “dealmaker” ought to have brokered something similar before pulling out and before the Turkish Army—and its Sunni Arab Islamist proxies—invaded the region and inflicted significant civilian casualties.

One must admit that a single phone call between Trump and President Erdogan of Turkey has turned the situation in Syria upside down in just over a week. The Kurds have requested protection from Assad’s army, Russian troops are now patrolling between the Kurds and invading Turks, and the U.S. is (for once) watching from the sidelines.

The execution has been sloppy, of course—a Trumpian trademark—and the human cost potentially heavy. Nonetheless, the U.S. withdrawal represents a significant instance of the president actually following through on campaign promises to end an endless American war in the Mideast. The situation isn’t simple, of course, and for the Kurds it is yet another fatalistic event in that people’s tragic history.

Still, while the situation in Northeast Syria constitutes a byzantine mess, it’s increasingly unclear that a continued U.S. military role there would be productive or strategic in the long term. After all, if Washington’s endgame wasn’t to establish a lasting, U.S.-guaranteed Kurdish nation-state of Rojava, and it hardly appeared that it ever was, then what exactly could America expect to accomplish through an all-risk, no-reward continued stalemate in Syria?

What’s truly striking, though, and increasingly apparent, is that President Trump possesses—as a foreign policy autocrat, of sorts—the power to derail the Democrats and place 2020 hopefuls in an awkward position of defending U.S. forever wars. It’s already happening, at least among mainstream “liberal” media and political personalities who’ve flooded the networks with anti-Trump vitriol since the Syria withdrawal.

Lest we confuse Donald Trump with a consistent antiwar dove, it’s important to remember that his behavior is erratic and often turns on a dime. Take, for example, his decision to impose sanctions on Turkey right after greenlighting the very invasion he now seeks to punish. He’s also prone to contradictory moves. Also, just as he pulled troops from Syria, he added an even larger number to Saudi Arabia, justifying the move on the grounds that the Saudis will foot the entire bill, making rather official the U.S. military’s gradual transformation into a mercenary force ready to serve the highest bidder. Trump has also surpassed, in his first two years, the number of drone strikes his predecessor Barack Obama launched overseas during the same phase of Obama’s presidency.

Nonetheless, Trump’s Democratic opponents have bet big on using Syria to attack the president without providing any real alternatives to withdrawal. In doing so, they might just hand Trump a winning hand for 2020. In fact, I haven’t seen so much foreign policy coverage of a U.S. war by the establishment media for over a decade, at least since Democrats finally turned against Bush’s failing war in Iraq as a tool for midterm electoral success.

The attention suddenly focused on Syria is rather cynical, of course, with the country’s civil war only receiving notice now because it’s a cudgel used to reflexively attack Trump. It’s not about Kurdish ethnic rights or women’s, rights—and it never was. No, this is all about partisan political advantage. And it might just backfire on the Dems.

Trump isn’t all that scared of criticism on Syria, even from the establishment wing of his own party. Firing back at critics this week, Trump tweeted: “Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other [in Syria]. Let them!”

See, this president knows what many congressional Republicans do not appear to realize: that the old conservative coalition—which included a powerful hawkish national security wing—is breaking down. The Republican base, well, they’re just about as sick of endless war as is Trump himself. Consider this remarkable turnaround: In recent polls, 56% of Republicans supported Trump’s Syria withdrawal, while 60% of Democrats opposed it.

Which brings us back to the mainstream Democratic machine and the potentially awkward position of even the most progressive of the 2020 presidential hopefuls on the “left.” By flipping the script and demonstrating that Trump and his conservative backers constitute the only serious antiwar coalition, he could expose that establishment Dems—who’ve almost all stood tall with the neocon retreads against Trump’s move—represent little more than Sen. Lindsey Graham lite. He could show that they’re hawks too, opportunistic hawks at that, figures mired in the Washington swamp. Disgust with that bipartisan beltway elite is exactly what got Mr. Trump elected in 2016 (along with a peculiar outdated Electoral College, of course), which is exactly why responding to Trump’s (tentative) war-ending propensity will be sensitive and awkward for Democratic leaders and presidential candidates.

Look, even America’s usually conservative, if (purportedly) apolitical, soldiers and veterans are now against these forever wars that Trump ostensibly seeks to end. A series of polls this summer indicated that nearly two-thirds of post-9/11 vets say they believe the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the military engagement in Syria “were not worth it.” This should have been an alarm bell for both major parties, but expect the Democrats to once again squander the opportunity presented by these frustrated, alienated troopers.

By ignoring foreign policy—generally having ceded that political territory to the Republicans since midway through the Cold War—the Dems have ensured that most of these antiwar veterans won’t find a home, or land in the Democratic Party.

I personally know dozens of these sorts of exhausted veterans. Almost none have followed my own journey toward the left. In fact, the vast majority tell me they trust Trump, warts and all, over figures like Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden or any of the other Democratic elites that they find even more corrupt than the reality-TV-star-in-chief. My friends and colleagues may be wrong, may be off-base, but most truly believe it, which ought to worry Democrats. Only it won’t, or at least not in enough time.

So, while I’m cautious about giving sensible advice to Trump (luckily, he doesn’t read Truthdig, or read much at all), I think there’s potential for him to craft a winning strategy for 2020.

Here’s a modest proposal on just how it might go: He could end one of America’s illegal wars, particularly those clearly not covered by the post-9/11 AUMFs [Authorization for Use of Military Force], every three months. Little-to-no warning, ignoring the complaints of senior generals and national security officials; just pick an ill-advised military intervention (there’re plenty to choose from) and announce its end.

Not only would this distract from impeachment, but it would force Trump’s potential 2020 opponents to perform some awkward intellectual gymnastics. They’d be obliged to double-down and promise to end even more wars, even more quickly, than Trump. Or, more likely, they could join the bipartisan swampy establishment and half-heartedly (and disingenuously) defend continuing the very unwinnable wars with which the American people have grown so tired.

I know all of that’s unlikely, but it’s not unthinkable. Trump could even wrap himself in a new brand of patriotism and emphasize his concern for America’s beloved troops. Now, this president isn’t known for his sincerity, but he has previously claimed that signing condolence letters for the families of fallen servicemen “is the hardest thing he does.” So in my fantasy, Trump would address the nation in prime time, and, noting that 18-year-olds have begun to deploy to Afghanistan, assure the people that he intends to end these wars before a kid born after 9/11 dies in one of them.


Danny Sjursen is a retired U.S. Army Major and regular contributor to Truthdig. His work has also appeared in Harper’s, The LA Times, The Nation, Tom Dispatch, The Huffington Post and The Hill. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, “Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.” He co-hosts the progressive veterans’ podcast “Fortress on a Hill.” Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet.


(10) Kurdish PKK/YPG troops join the Syrian army; MSM beatup Trump's withdrawal

October 18, 2019

Media And Pundits Misread The 'Everyone Wins' Plan For Syria

The U.S. media get yesterday's talks between U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan all wrong. Those talks were just a show to soothe the criticism against President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeast Syria.

The fake negotiations did not change the larger win-win-win-win plan or the facts on the ground. The Syrian Arab Army is replacing the Kurdish PKK/YPG troops at the border with Turkey. The armed PKK/YPG forces, which had deceivingly renamed themselves (vid) "Syrian Democratic Forces" to win U.S. support, will be disbanded and integrated into the Syrian army. Those moves are sufficient to give Turkey the security guarantees it needs. They will prevent any further Turkish invasion.

The Washington Post reports:

Turkey agreed Thursday to a cease-fire that would suspend its march into Syria and temporarily halt a week of vicious fighting with Kurdish forces, while allowing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government to carve out a long-coveted buffer zone far beyond its borders.

The agreement, announced by Vice President Pence after hours of negotiations, appeared to hand Turkey’s leader most of what he sought when his military launched an assault on northeastern Syria just over a week ago: the expulsion of Syrian Kurdish militias from the border and the removal of a U.S. threat to impose sanctions on Turkey’s vulnerable economy.

Pence said Turkey had agreed to pause its offensive for five days while the United States helped facilitate the withdrawal of Kurdish-led forces, called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), from a large swath of territory stretching from Turkey’s border nearly 20 miles south into Syria. After the completion of the Kurdish withdrawal, Turkey’s military operation, which began Oct. 9, would be "halted entirely," Pence said.

The New York Times falsely headlines: In ‘Cave-In,’ Trump Cease-Fire Cements Turkey’s Gains in Syria

The cease-fire agreement reached with Turkey by Vice President Mike Pence amounts to a near-total victory for Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who gains territory, pays little in penalties and appears to have outmaneuvered President Trump.

The best that can be said for the agreement is that it may stop the killing in the Kurdish enclave in northern Syria. But the cost for Kurds, longtime American allies in the fight against the Islamic State, is severe: Even Pentagon officials were mystified about where tens of thousands of displaced Kurds would go, as they moved south from the Turkey-Syria border as required by the deal — if they agree to go at all. ... Military officials said they were stunned that the agreement essentially allowed Turkey to annex a portion of Syria, displace tens of thousands of Kurdish residents and wipe away years of counterterrorism gains against the Islamic State.

The U.S. can not "allow Turkey to annex a portion of Syria". The U.S. does not own Syria. It is completely bollocks to think that it has the power to allow Turkey to annex parts of it.

Turkey will not "gain territory". There will be no Turkish "security corridor". The Kurdish civilians in Kobani, Ras al Ain and Qamishli areas will not go anywhere. The Turks will not touch those Kurdish majority areas because they are, or soon will be, under control of the Syrian government and its army.


The picture, taken yesterday, shows the Syrian-Turkish border crossing north of Kobani. The Syrian army took control of it and raised the Syrian flag. There are no longer any Kurdish forces there that could threaten Turkey.

The Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu confirmed that Turkey agrees with the Syrian government moves:

Russia "promised that the PKK or YPG will not be on the other side of the border," Cavusoglu said in an interview with the BBC. "If Russia, accompanied by the Syrian army, removes YPG elements from the region, we will not oppose this." Even partisan Syrians opposed to its government recognize the ploy:

Rami Jarrah @RamiJarrah - 12:53 UTC · Oct 17, 2019 Turkey’s foreign minister once again reiterates that if Russia and the Syrian regime take over border areas they will not object, as long as the PYD are expelled. This has to be the easiest land grab opportunity Assad has had since the war started.

These moves have been planed all along. The Turkish invasion in northeast Syria was designed to give Trump a reason to withdraw U.S. troops. It was designed to push the Kurdish forces to finally submit to the Syrian government. Behind the scene Russia had already organized the replacement of the Kurdish forces with Syrian government troops. It has coordinated the Syrian army moves with the U.S. military. Turkey had agreed that Syrian government control would be sufficient to alleviate its concern about a Kurdish guerilla and a Kurdish proto-state at its border. Any further Turkish invasion of Syria is thereby unnecessary.

The plan has everyone winning. Turkey will be free of a Kurdish threat. Syria regains its territory. The U.S. can leave without further trouble. Russia and Iran gain standing. The Kurds get taken care of.

The 'ceasefire' and the retreat of the armed Kurdish groups from the border, which is claimed to have been negotiated yesterday between Pence and Erdogan, had already been decided on before the U.S. announced its withdrawal from Syria.

As veteran reporter Elijah Magnier wrote yesterday, before the Turkish-U.S. negotiations happened:

Assad trusts that Russia will succeed in halting the Turkish advance and reduce its consequences, perhaps by asking the Kurds to pull back to a 30 km distance from the Turkish borders to satisfy President Erdogan’s anxiety. That could also fit the Turkish-Syrian 1998 Adana agreement (5 km buffer zone rather than 30 km) and offer tranquillity to all parties involved. Turkey wants to make sure the Kurdish YPG, the PKK Syrian branch, is disarmed and contained. Nothing seems difficult for Russia to manage, particularly when the most difficult objective has already been graciously offered: the US forces’ withdrawal.

What Magnier describes is exactly what Pence and Erdogan agreed upon after he wrote it because it was - all along - part of the larger common plan.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 20:13 UTC · Oct 17, 2019 This is a great day for civilization. I am proud of the United States for sticking by me in following a necessary, but somewhat unconventional, path. People have been trying to make this "Deal" for many years. Millions of lives will be saved. Congratulations to ALL! The question is now if the U.S. will stick to the deal or if the pressure on President Trump will get so heavy that he needs to retreat from the common deal. The U.S. must move ALL its troops out of northeast Syria for the plot to succeed. Any residual U.S. force, even an unsustainable small one, will make the situation much more complicate.

That the U.S. media and pundits completely misread the situation is a symptom of a wider failure. As Anatol Lieven describes the mess of U.S. Middle Eastern strategy:

This pattern has its roots in the decay of the US political system and political establishment at home, including the power of lobbies and their money over US policy in key areas; the retreat of area studies in academia and think tanks, leading to sheer ignorance of some of the key countries with which the USA has to deal; the self-obsession, self-satisfaction and ideological megalomania that in every dispute leads so much of the US establishment and media to cast the USA as a force of absolute good, and its opponents as absolutely evil; and the failure – linked to these three syndromes – to identify vital and secondary interests and choose between them .. Only a few realist in the U.S. recognize reality. Stephen Walt:

The bottom line: The solution to the situation in Syria is to acknowledge Assad’s victory and work with the other interested parties to stabilize the situation there. Unfortunately, that sensible if unsavory approach is anathema to the foreign-policy "Blob"—Democrats and Republicans alike—and its members are marshaling the usual tired arguments to explain why it’s all Trump’s fault and the United States should never have withdrawn a single soldier.

I am confident for now that the blob will be held off by Trump and that the Win4 plan will succeed. Erdogan will soon travel to Russia to discuss the next steps towards peace in Syria. The talks will be about a common plan to liberated the Jihadi controlled governorate of Idleb. That step may require a summit between the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Erdogan which Russia and Iran will help to facilitate.

With the U.S. removed from the Syria file such steps towards peace will now be much easier.

Posted by b on October 18, 2019 at 6:43 UTC |

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