Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Syria’ Category

TRUMP, SYRIA, WILD SPECULATION, AND A VACATION NOTICE

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Some Democratic primary debates are going on. I can hear my housemate screaming, so, someone is scoring points. Woohoo! Political-ball! Smiles. I’m pretty cynical about the American political scene at this point. Trump has shown us the truth, a gerbil could occupy the Oval Office, and it would make little difference. It’s just theatre, POTUS is the perfect job for a narcissistic reality TV star.

Last post for a little bit. A week maybe. Some life issues to deal with. And the Middle East stuff is exploding, I can’t write posts fast enough. Syria, with Russia’s backing, is going to contest Turkey’s incursion into Syria. Showdown at the OK corral. Trump didn’t get us into this mess, but so far unimpressed with his response. Some symbolic sanctions on Turkey. More bluster. Moments of frightening clarity, like the above tweet. Think about what that money could have done if spent in America. Or not, it is both terribly sad and infuriating to think about.

Yes, Trump betrayed the Kurds. A few years back when he pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris global warming treaty he utterly betrayed our allies and the entire globe respectively. Crickets from the Dems. So it’s hard for me to take Dem righteous anger about the Kurd thing as anything more than American partisan politics, post Reagan style. All image, no substance. Politics as a team sport, something bad happens on the other guy’s watch, score! People don’t actually die on Superbowl Sunday though, people are dying in Syria.

So, wild speculation time. Worst case scenario. Trump in Syria ends up even more of a debacle than Obama giving Crimea to Russia. This time Russia gets the whole Middle East, the petrodollar collapses, the American economy goes into a tailspin. Or even worse, somehow this leads to a nuclear war, limited or no. Would Trump use nuclear weapons if he thought the alternative was a personal humiliation and the loss of the election? Hope not. And I hope such orders wouldn’t be obeyed if Trump did lose it.

My actual guess? Same as day one, the second Trump got elected, really smart people the world over said “We can checkmate this guy with a bit of preparation.” And now the chickens are coming home to roost. Frankly the world will be better off without Washington calling all the shots. What’s good for Raytheon is not good for America, or the world. Could be an ugly transition though.

How is it that being an adult means every question distills down to “Hell if I know.” If I die before I post again, my executor is instructed to publish my draft posts. There are hundreds of them. I assume this means a lot of people will wish me a long life. See, being a writer does have an up side. Have a great whatever everyone, I will return on the flip side.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Trump tweet. Credit. POTUS Trump. Pretty sure Trump’s tweets are Public Domain under US copyright law.)

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Written by unitedcats

October 16, 2019 at 4:08 am

Posted in Politics, Russia, Syria, Trump, Turkey

TURKEY, SYRIA, TRUMP … SHOES, SHOES, EVERYWHERE. AND A CORRECTION.

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Turkey has launched a full scale invasion of the Kurdish controlled region of northeastern Syria. This link has a good map, not a trivial bit of real estate, about a third of Syria. Serious fighting, dozens to hundreds dead. Tens of thousands of refugees, hundreds of thousands is possible. The operation is very popular among Turks, among ethnic Turks at least. In the US Trump’s political opponents are pillorying him, claiming that by pulling out of Syria he gave Turkey a “green light” to attack. Claiming Trump is betraying our allies, the Kurds, who we supported in their war on ISIS. Yes, Turkey’s leader Erdogan was undeterred by Trump’s threats to destroy Turkey’s economy. It’s unclear to me just how true these claims by Trump’s opponents are, the Turks would likely have invaded sooner or later. The presence of a tiny handful of US troops wasn’t going to stop them.

While I agree this is a terrible thing, I really wonder where all these people who are enraged by Trump’s “genocide” and “betrayal” of the Kurds have been for the past 20 years. The US has been waging war on half a dozen countries for a decade, where’s the outrage? Where was the outrage when Obama illegally sent troops into Syria with no coherent mission and no exit strategy? Or more precisely, when Obama’s disastrous blunder in Ukraine handed Crimea to Putin, why no outrage at Obama? To be suddenly outraged by Trump, when the US has been conducting and supporting invasions for decades is the height of partisan hypocrisy.

A couple of points. The Kurds are not our allies, they are people we support when they are fighting people we don’t like. Granted Trump’s bizarre rant about how the Kurds “didn’t help us on D-Day” was surreal. We’ve betrayed the Kurds before and we will betray them again. And like Vietnam, it would be harder to find a region of the world less important to the US. The Kurds are in no position to help us protect American interests in their sphere, because there basically aren’t any. Turkey on the other hand, is absolutely a key US ally and NATO member, with key US military bases inside Turkey. So I’m not sure what Trump’s critics thought we should do, stay in Syria forever? Go to war with Turkey?

Basically the world is run by 300 or so armed gangs, and the US is one of the worst, despite our lip service to freedom and democracy. And most of them are rational actors, ruthless in protecting their own interests. And that is exactly what Erdogan is doing, a Kurdish enclave in Iraq would certainly act as a supply base for Kurdish separatists operating in Turkey. If part of Mexico was being run by people inimical to the US, you better believe the US would intervene. That doesn’t mean it’s right, but it does mean to criticise it while accepting and supporting the international order that creates these situations in the first place is absurd. As long as there are over 5,000 ethnic groups on the planet but only 300 or so of them have nations, this sort of thing is the reality. The Kurds may be one of the larger stateless peoples in the world, but there are hundreds of others equally deserving a state of their own. As long as this elephant in the room  is unaddressed, the US is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

God help the Kurds, nobody else will. We have failed as a species. As for what will happen now, I suspect it won’t be pretty. Efforts to set up a Turkish occupied neutral zone in Syria will likely prove unstable in the long run. Like the Israeli occupation strip in Lebanon, it may create more problems than it solves. Maybe it will drive the parties involved to the negotiating table and something will be done. It would actually make sense for parts of Iraq, Turkey, and Syria to be made into an independent Kurdistan. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

A sad week all around. I admit I overstated my case in my last post. I claimed there was a period of global peace after the Vietnam war. It was something I read decades ago, and it was only partially true then. A warning, once again, that so much of what I think I know is wrong. Yet I can’t double check every single thing I write. C’est la vie. The number six chart on this page shows battle deaths over recent decades. There was a big downtick in the late seventies, that is what I was referring to. Then horrible butchery taking off in the eighties, mostly in Africa. Battle deaths are low in recent decades, but they are only part of the story. And fodder for another blog.

I write to try and understand the world. My current take: Claiming Trump is a ‘monster’ for ‘betraying the Kurds’ is using the Kurds for domestic political points. That colonial mindset is far more a betrayal of the Kurds than Trump’s blundering, it’s what made the world a dystopian nightmare for people like the Kurds. I rest my case. Even blogging about it is a betrayal by those standards I guess. The more one knows, the more one hates oneself.

Good chance this will get edited in the AM. Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Polish cavalry during the German invasion in 1939. Credit: Unknown, wikipedia image, appears to be Public Domain under US copyright law. From Wikipedia: “Battle of the Bzura: Polish cavalry in Sochaczew in 1939.”)

Written by unitedcats

October 11, 2019 at 4:10 am

Posted in Kurds, Syria, Trump, Turkey, War

TURKEY TELLS TRUMP TO ‘TALK TO THE HAND’

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This week started off with Trump thinking he was a Mafia don I guess. He threatened “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!)” Yeah, that’s presidential. Where did he get the idea that threatening a major US ally in this way was going to lead to anything good for the US? This is all about the Kurds in Syria, which the US was perfectly willing to pay to fight ISIS. Trump is pulling the US out of Syria, Turkey apparently plans to invade Syria to both keep the Kurds from getting any ideas about independence, and to create a zone in Syria where they can resettle Syrian refugees that fled the Civil War in Syria.

Why is Trump up in arms about this? I don’t know, it’s not like he gives a crap about the Kurds or the Syrians. I think it’s just because he doesn’t like being crossed, Trump has always used his wealth and power to get his own way, regardless of the cost to others. The silly thing about this threat, is any economic action taken against Turkey is going to cost the US too. In fact it’s not clear to me that Trump has many options for hurting Turkey’s economy, it’s not like the world is going to agree to sanction Turkey. We’ll see what Turkey does, but my guess is they will proceed as planned and tell Trump to “Talk to the hand.”

Oh well, at least Trump is entertaining. Sadly the joke is on the American people. The impeachment circus grinds on, I don’t think it’s going anywhere soon, so I’m guessing it’s about rallying the base. Or more accurately, keep the base rallying around the prefered “centrist’ candidates, and away from Bernie sanders and his ilk. And if impeachment does succeed, probably by causing Trump to melt down completely and resign, we get Pence. Yeah, another Evangelical neocon. More “Bombing in the name of Jesus” basically. Here’s an interesting article about a potential Pence presidency.

Well, poot, reality is overtaking this post as I type. Turkey has called Trump’s bluff. With the Washington establishment’s blessing. What a complicated mess. Trump is being pilloried for “abandoning” our Kurdish “allies” to attack by Turkey. Well, we are abandoning the Kurds, as we have done before when they were no further use to us. And they aren’t our allies, just locals we armed and paid to defeat a mutual enemy, ISIS. Turkey is a member of NATO and thus most definitely our allie. A member that has no intention of allowing an autonomous Kurdish defacto state to be established in Syria. It would give the millions of Kurds living in Turkey ideas.

Yes, this post is almost incoherent. Like America’s strategy in the Middle East. Let’s try to sum it all up. Revolution/Civil War breaks out in Syria some years back. Numerous other countries get involved, but eventually with help from Iran and Russia, the Syrian regime wins the war. A large part of Northeastern Syria remains under de facto Kurdish control. Trump announces he is going to actually fulfill a campaign promise (gasp!) and pull at least some US troops out of Syria, who are there completely illegally by the way. The neocon Washington ‘all war all the time’ establishment goes nuts over Trump’s decision, then the Turks announce they will be going into Syria. Trump does his Mafia don schtick and threatens turkey, while also praising them, in a series of classically Trumpian (IE near incoherent) tweets. Turkey announces Trump can “talk to the hand,” Turkey is going into Syria. And now we wait for other shoes to drop.

What a complicated mess in other words. Wars within wars. I miss the seventies. For a time after the Vietnam War there was peace in the world. No wars anywhere. What a concept. For about 8% of the last 3,400 years the world has been at peace. So it’s not an impossible dream. Since the peaceful days of the seventies, we’re now involved in half a dozen wars, with other wars ongoing as well. And most of the wars the US is fighting are stalemates, and are at least as senseless as the Vietnam War. Great for profits in the war industry and promotions in the Pentagon I guess. My point here is that if the world was at peace in the seventies, but is riven with war now, who’s to blame? I would posit that the people who rule the world, the US and its allies, are to blame. In fact the current pile of pointless and hopeless wars we are involved in proves Washington’s strategy, if “kill all the bad guys” can even be called a strategy, has failed.

Alas, America is the country that can do no wrong. So no matter how often our wars fail, we just pay the toll in blood and gold (usually not American blood) and carry on. This is why the world is a mess, this is why by all objective metrics the US is worse off than any other developed nation, this is why Trump got elected! And this is why it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

I know, I know, ranting again. I’ll go take a Valium.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: From Wikipedia: “Part of the set of five hanging scrolls Extermination of Evil depicting benevolent deities who expel demons of plague. This scroll was originally part of a handscroll known as the “second edition of the Masuda family Hell Scroll” before being cut into sections after World War II. The text on the scroll explains the acts of the god in exterminating evil. The Divine Insect is an euphemism for the silkworm which takes the form of a moth here. The set of five scrolls has been designated as National Treasure of Japan in the category paintings.” Credit: Unknown, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

October 9, 2019 at 5:13 am