Friday, June 23, 2017
War without End, Amen
Ever since the end of WW II the US has been slowly but at a recently accelerating pace, inserting its military into countries around the world. It began innocently enough with the occupation of our fallen foes after The Big One. It suffered a hitch when we were pushed out of North Korea and Southeast Asia after military failures. It began again with the Bush War I against Saddam Hussein and has steadily encroached upon every country we could for any reason we could manufacture. And now we are about to try for war in Iran and include Syria.
To hear the Pentagon tell it, the United States still has no intention of getting involved in Syria’s six-year civil war; the American presence there is solely to help its allies defeat the Islamic State.Since Donny Metmucilini has given the Pentagon carte blanche to blow up or shoot whoever they please, we cn expect an unhindered increase in our efforts to bring eternal war to the Middle East for the benefit of our good friend Bugsy Netanyahu.
But a recent spate of incidents have raised alarm from diplomats and national security officials that the United States may be inadvertently sliding into a far bigger role in the Syrian civil war than it intended.
“We don’t seek conflict with anyone other than ISIS,” Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said on Wednesday, using an acronym for the militant Sunni extremist group that is rooted in Syria and Iraq.
This month alone, the United States has shot down a Syrian warplane, come close to shooting another and downed two Iranian-made drones that were nearing American-backed troops on the ground.
Russia has retaliated by threatening to treat American planes as targets; in a dramatic “Top Gun”-style maneuver on Monday, one of Moscow’s jets buzzed within five feet of an American spy plane.
None of these encounters involved the Islamic State. The contradiction opens a larger question, national security experts say, of what kind of broader strategy the Trump administration plans once the Islamic State — now on the defensive — is defeated in Syria.
With each episode, “we own more of the conflict in Syria without articulating a strategy,” said Vali Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. “We are sleepwalking into a much broader military mandate, without saying what we plan to do afterward.”
American military gains in Syria have far outpaced any diplomacy toward a political settlement of the Syrian civil war.
When President Barack Obama first began airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria three years ago, the instructions to the Pentagon seemed clear: Defeat the Islamic State through alliances with Syrians who oppose the brutal extremist group, but do not help them fight President Bashar al-Assad.
The Islamic State is now reeling in Syria. It has been battered by strikes from a host of enemies, from the United States and its regional allies to the Syrian government that is backed by Russia and Iran. It no longer holds one-third of the country, according to American officials who say that the group has lost around half of the territory it once controlled.
In past years, the Pentagon and its allies could stay out of the Syrian government’s way — and that of Mr. Assad’s backers in Russia and Iran — as all fought the Islamic State. Now, all sides are converging on a smaller piece of territory, resulting in competing forces increasingly turning on one another, in addition to the common enemy.
Captain Davis, at the Pentagon, noted that when American-backed ground troops are confronted by “armed drones, that leaves us with no choice but to defend ourselves and our partners.”
He said that the downing of an Iranian-made drone this week was done in self-defense. Defense officials insist that does not amount to a greater United States involvement in the broader war.
But privately, American military officials acknowledge that they are quickly running out of space in Syria to stay out of Mr. Assad’s way — not to mention Russia’s and Iran’s.
In Europe, the new president of France, Emmanuel Macron, announced that he would be taking a distinctly different tack on Syria than his predecessor. Mr. Macron said that getting rid of Mr. Assad was no longer a top priority.
Instead, Mr. Macron said, getting rid of terrorists is more important — and he is prepared to work with anyone toward that end, including Moscow.
“The real change I’ve made on this question is that I haven’t said the deposing of Bashar al-Assad is a prerequisite for everything,” Mr. Macron said in an interview with European newspapers, according to Agence France-Presse.
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