The Kurds (Again)

Controversy swirls around Trump’s declaration that US troops will leave Syria, where they have been sitting as a buffer between Turkish troops and Kurdish irregulars. [stderr]

What’s amazing, to me, is that the military-owned members of congress are suddenly in the unusual position of having to pretend to care what happens to the Kurds. Presumably that’s because they can’t come up with any other actual good reason for US troops to continue to illegally occupy part of another sovereign state – that’s the kind of naughty thing that Russia does, not us, so let’s not discuss that part of it.

I think the understood thing that Trump is refusing to recognize is that there’s a giant US special forces/CIA drone base somewhere up in there, and it’s conveniently located strategic real estate that the US intelligence/military apparatus intend to hang onto for a very long time. Unlike Iraq, which got pesky and asked the US troops to leave, Syria can be treated as a failed state that nobody has to listen to. The Iranians can allegedly move troops and gear in, and the Israelis can allegedly bomb them, and the US can allegedly call artillery strikes in on Russians that are allegedly not there either – it’s hell’s play-ground and the military and intelligence community are making their own foreign policy. How dare Trump interfere with them? It was OK when his crooked buddies were messing around in Ukraine but Afghanistan and Syria are “where the iron crosses grow”; there are still a lot of people to be shot and bombed. Who cares if there is an actual, militarily achievable, strategic objective?

Turkey is already making a land-grab; Afrin is under Turkish control but it’s a city in Syria.

It’s odd that suddenly Trump is the one who is talking sense about strategic reality, but you know what they say: even a broken clock is correct twice a day, if only briefly. There is no point in being in Syria; it’s just expensive murder. I’m baffled that Trump is bothering to pretend to care about either of those things.

The establishment and press are describing the situation as Trump knocking “US foreign policy” off the rails, or something like that. Is that supposed to imply that US foreign policy regarding Syria is “on the rails” and going smoothly? US foreign policy is what opened the gap in which ISIS grew in the first place; it’s not impressive. In fact, it’s downright incompetent and has resulted in Iran growing more powerful, the rise of well-armed and hardened insurgent factions throughout the region, and it opened the door to land-grabs like the Turks have been doing for the last year-plus.

A Turkish M-1 Abrams, Made in Detroit, prowls the streets of Afrin

Having a bunch of US troops blocking Turkish troops from grabbing more land is going to accomplish exactly nothing; what, are they going to do, stay there forever? The US is obviously not going to stop Turkey, or they would have done it by now, and proto-dictator Erdogan is already past listening to appeals for kindness toward the Kurds.

As usual, I’m shocked by Trump’s vulgarity; speaking of the Kurds as though they were Uber drivers that he was going to shaft by not leaving a tip.

There are two things of value that come from this:

One, nobody in the US military can claim any longer to believe in what they are doing. They must accept that they are not there to “help” anyone and are mere servants of an imperialist power. I believe that it ought to have been impossible to feel that participating in the US military, after Vietnam, was plausibly a service or a good thing, but now that sham needs to be put away for good. As the hippies used to say in the 60’s: “baby killer!” To be a US soldier means to mostly spend your time killing defenseless civilians.

Two, no other nation should believe the US’ “we’re here to help!” bullshit. The US should be recognized internationally as an imperial power with a completely nihilistic foreign policy; our policy is “might makes right!” Naturally, there will still be plenty who choose to work with the US, but they should not kid themselves – it’s a relationship of expedience and they are merely servants.


  1. says

    I think it’s showing.

    A lot of the regular guys are just mooks who needed a fucking job, and the incredibly vast “special forces” operation is sliding rapidly in to a borderline criminal organization. Ask a jarhead about the SEAL teams. I mean, the answer was never particularly positive, but now it’s complete disdain backed up by as many stories as you’ve got time for.

    The Marines, god love ’em, retain some belief in the chain of command, but evidently the SEAL teams… don’t.

    Meanwhile the leadership is an enormous bunch of bureaucrats, which is the only reason these shitheads aren’t just turning the USA into a war zone. It’s possible that building the largest office building in the world to house the military HQ was formative here.

  2. Ketil Tveiten says

    Just to a) shoot down a very tiny part of your argument, and/or b) give you an in towards an “everyone else in the West is in on this too” argument: That’s not an M-1 Abrams, built in Detroit. It’s a Leopard 2, built somewhere in Germany.

    Regardless, “in my great and unmatched wisdom” really is the phrase of the day. Or week, even.

  3. nastes says

    @Ketil #3
    While I have no idea about weapons systems, yeah, most weapon exports of Germany went/go to Turkey. I think Saudi-Arabia is second. Probably all labelled for humanitarian use only…


  4. komarov says

    There is no point in being in Syria; it’s just expensive murder. […]
    The establishment and press are describing the situation as Trump knocking “US foreign policy” off the rails, or something like that. Is that supposed to imply that US foreign policy regarding Syria is “on the rails” and going smoothly?

    It’s not murder, it’s not-quite war and therefore a-ok. Furthermore, money is being spent which might otherwise sit idle or end up in nonsense projects infrastructure, healthcare or other socialist schemes. Everything’s going great! Status quo maintained.

    Having a bunch of US troops blocking Turkish troops from grabbing more land is going to accomplish exactly nothing; what, are they going to do, stay there forever?

    Presumably, yes. They’re shipping more troops to Europe right now for “exercises”. Like a fungus, once the US sinks its roots in, it’s there to stay.

    Regarding the tanks, yes, they’re a proudly made in Germany. Well, someone in Germany is proud to make and market them, and that someone is a group that naturally includes politicians who sign off on exports.
    When Erdogan first started building his “buffer”, there was an uproar in Germany because he was using German tanks to slaughter people. Part of the arms deal apparently limited the use of those tanks to essentially defensive purposes.* (I wonder if whoever came up with that and signed the papers managed not to snicker or dislocate their eyeballs)
    The German government responded with upset phone calls to Erdogan and an arms embargo, which, amazingly was even upheld for a little while. Of course it was all temporary – won’t somebody please think of the economy?! – and the status quo was once more restored.

    Incidentally, these buffer zones continue to astound me. I’d have thought that, if you felt you need a buffer zone, you’d start at your border and then walk back by however many miles you needed to feel safe. That would be fine, except maybe for your fellow citizens living in that region but, meh. Justdon’t let them vote.**
    Instead everyone is always moving forward and cribbing neighours’ territories, and gods help them if they should venture in there. Erdogan’s doing it, Israel’s doing it, and who knows who else. Why isn’t there a great deal more headscratching going on over this?

    If Mexico annexed part of Texas to keep gun-toting Americans away from law-abiding citizens, there’d be a war. (An actual defensive war on US soil, a historic first?) When Germany tried to do this with a “buffer” right up to the Atlantic coast (and some other places), it led to the biggest war, the largest amphibious landing, and a whole host of other superlatives, twice! Though the first time wasn’t exactly Germany’s fault.

    * Checking up a bit on this I’m not so sure anymore. It might have been a tacit understanding / assumption that was simply irgnored, to the total surprise of noone.
    **In accordance with the Pawn Sacrifice Act, passed unanimously in ca. 10 000 BC and upheld by supreme courts / rulers ever since.

  5. says

    I’m really embarrassed that I mis-ID’d the tank. The flat front (what were the Germans thinking?!) of the turret should have given it away. Also, I already covered the Turkish tanks before, when they were getting destroyed willy nilly. They have a weird mix of vehicles out there – old Korean War-era US Pershings and new Leopards.

    At least they’re humanitarian tanks.

    The news this morning is that explosions are already being heard by the border. Perhaps some Kurds snuck down and got a few preliminary licks in, but it’s probably not that. Also: I blame Bush and Co, and US foreign policy for giving Erdogan the “anti-terror” language. The Kurds are “terrorists”, see, and the Turks are building an “anti-terror buffer zone” – it’s not a land-grab at all.

  6. komarov says

    According to the BBC it’s official now. Turkey is blowing stuff up and killing people, though strangely enough the article is categorised as “Syrian civil war”, which must be wrong in whatever way you choose to look at it.

    The Turkish government plans to create a “safe zone” without Kurdish militias – regarded by Ankara as terrorists – which will also accommodate two million of Turkey’s 3.6 million Syrian refugees.

    Apparently it’s not just going to be a buffer zone, but a buffer concentration camp. Get rid of all those unwanted refugees (to whose number Turkey no doubt contributed) and maybe even turn them into human shields? What could possibly be wrong with that? On some other nation’s soil, no less!

    On Twitter, Mr Erdogan said the mission “was to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area” […]
    President Erdogan says this is the beginning of Operation Peace Spring.

    Blackadder put it best, “I think the phrase rhymes with clucking bell.

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