Trump’s Illegal Syrian Mission Creep

Even as the Islamic State’s “caliphate” in Syria collapses, the U.S. government is keeping about 2,000 soldiers in-country despite lacking any legal right to be there, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar discusses.

By Paul R. Pillar

The other day we learned that there are four times more U.S. troops in Syria than any earlier official figure had acknowledged. The discrepancy did not get much public attention, perhaps because the numbers are small compared to some other U.S. military deployments: about 2,000 troops in Syria, with the earlier official figure being 500.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis meets with troops stationed at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, April 21, 2017. (DoD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley)

The incomplete count evidently had omitted personnel on short-term assignments and some others performing sensitive missions. A Pentagon spokesman said that release of the newer, more complete figure is part of an effort by Secretary of Defense James Mattis to be more transparent.

Less transparent than the new data about numbers of U.S. troops is the reason any of those troops are staying in Syria. The one uncontested rationale for the deployment in Syria has been to combat the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), which is an unconventional non-state actor but presented conventional sorts of military targets when it established a state-like entity occupying significant territory in Syria and Iraq.

The ISIS mini-state is now all but eliminated. Nonetheless, the U.S. military presence in Syria, although down from its peak strength, shows no sign of ending. Mattis has said that the United States “won’t just walk away” from its efforts in Syria.

Signs of Mission Creep

The United States is exhibiting mission creep in Syria, with new rationales being spun to replace the mission of armed combat against the ISIS caliphate. Underlying the mission creep are some familiar patterns of thinking that have been behind other U.S. military expeditions as well. Donald Trump did not originate these patterns but his administration has slid into them.

Mattis’s comment about not walking away from where the United States already has been involved points to one of those American habits of thought, which is to believe that the United States is best equipped, and should be most responsible, for setting right any troubled country in which the United States has had more than a passing interest. To believe this about Syria goes well beyond the mission of combating ISIS and gets into pacification and even some elements of nation-building.

Other patterns of thinking about the Syrian case entail amnesia about recent relevant experiences and the lessons that should have been drawn from them but evidently weren’t. American attitudes toward ISIS, the Syrian regime, and Syria’s Russian and Iranian allies are all involved.

The dominant American perspective toward counterterrorism, and thus toward ISIS, has been a heavily militarized one inherent in the notion of a “war on terror.” Use of the military instrument has been appropriate insofar as ISIS, as a mini-state, presented military targets. But ISIS, which lives on as more of a clandestine movement and ideology, no longer presents many such targets. Non-military counterterrorist instruments are now relatively more important.

Too often forgotten is how much war itself, and specifically the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, was a boon to ISIS. Also too often forgotten is how much the collateral casualties and damage that are almost unavoidable byproducts of U.S. military action in complicated conflicts tend to boost rather than reduce anti-U.S. extremism, including extremism that takes the form of international terrorism.

‘Regime Change’ Dreams

One habitual thought about ISIS has been that Assad must be toppled if there is to be any hope of killing off ISIS. Max Abrahms and John Glaser catalog the many iterations, voiced over the past two years, of the theme that defeating ISIS would require defeating Assad. Today’s situation, with the ISIS caliphate extinguished while Assad remains ensconced in Damascus, demonstrates how erroneous that argument was.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in front of a poster of his father, Hafez al-Assad.

Many who propounded the argument are among those now pushing for continuation and expansion of the U.S. military expedition in Syria, with no acknowledgment of how wrong was their earlier assessment. This demonstrates anew how little accountability there is for faulty policy analysis among the Washington chattering classes.

The dream of felling Assad does not die, even though with the help of his friends he does not appear to be going anywhere in the foreseeable future. Persistence of the dream involves more amnesia, in at least two respects. One is to forget the consequences of earlier U.S. or U.S.-backed efforts at regime change in the region. These include the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which gave birth to the group that we later came to know as ISIS, and the chaos-fomenting ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.

There also seems to be forgetfulness of how long the Assads — including the father Hafez, who put down internal opposition at least as brutally as his son Bashar — have been in power. Forty-seven years, to be exact. Anyone arguing that continuation of Bashar Assad in power is intolerable needs to answer the question “why now?” and to explain how the world and U.S. interests somehow have survived nearly a half century of the Assads.

As for Bashar Assad’s Russian and Iranian friends, the dominant American perspective is the zero-sum assumption that any presence or influence of either Iran or Russia is ipso facto bad and contrary to U.S. interests. This perspective makes no effort to sort out the respects in which Russian or Iranian actions conflict with U.S. interests, parallel U.S. interests, or are irrelevant to those interests.

This absence of effort persists despite the glaring example (not just in Syria, but also in Iraq and beyond), of the fight against ISIS as a parallel interest. Joined to this habitual perspective is the also habitual use of the misleading vacuum metaphor, according to which not just U.S. involvement but physical and preferably military involvement to fill a space is needed to counter bad-by-definition Iranian or Russian influence in that same space.

These habits of thinking, taken together, close off an escape route from Syria. They imply no end to the U.S. military expedition there. They preclude declaring victory (that is, a military victory against ISIS) and going home. Vladimir Putin, more conscious than most American pundits are of the hazards of indefinitely being stuck in Syria, is doing that now.

Thus Syria is becoming one more place, like Afghanistan, in which the United States endlessly wages a war. Meanwhile the Russians will keep reminding everyone that they were there at the invitation of the incumbent government and the United States is not. The Turks will keep getting angry about U.S. tactical cooperation with Kurds. Sunni extremists will keep exploiting for propaganda and recruitment any damage done by the United States or its local clients. And the Pentagon may or may not tell us how many U.S. troops are actually there.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is author most recently of Why America Misunderstands the World. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)

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40 comments for “Trump’s Illegal Syrian Mission Creep

  1. KenH
    December 17, 2017 at 10:29 am

    We’re still in Syria because that’s what Israel wants. It’s totally illegal and lacks Congressional approval, but that matters not when “our greatest ally in the Middle East” is the beneficiary.

  2. Tuttle
    December 15, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Speaking of sliding into patterns, I noticed you slid into the pattern of referring to the legitimate Syrian government as “the Syrian regime,” using a subtle propaganda smear term often used against Washington’s enemies to suggest a brutal dictatorship.

  3. Peter Loeb
    December 15, 2017 at 7:22 am

    AN “INCOMPLETE” GRADE FOR MR. PILLAR?

    Paul Pillar presents many insightful reasons in his article, “Trump’s
    Illegal Syrian Mission Creep” above.

    Unfortunately he leaves blank —or undiscussed– the specific ways
    in which the mission creep is illegal.

    In “The Middle East Eye” ,so often an unreliable source— the following
    appears in an AFP article:

    “…Washington has cited Article 51 of the UN charter allowing for self-defense
    of partner forces as legal justification for its military engagement, and that
    will remain the case going forward…”

    As absurd as this may be, it is reported almost as fact, by AFP.

    As discussion of Article 51, when it can be applied and by whom is
    needed.

    I would also like to have made clear the reasons for Israel attacking targets
    on the soil of a foreign nation. Why has Syria failed to bring both these
    issues to the attention (in emergency session?) of the Security
    Council of the United Nations? Or have they and no information has been
    made available in the west?

    Paul Pillar should be able to provide answers to these pertinent questions.

    Thereby, he would fill in at least a few of the blanks for all of us.

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  4. T.J
    December 14, 2017 at 7:29 am

    The US and it’s allies manage to repeat the same mistakes, over and over, in the Middle East and elsewhere. Their actions have left nothing but destruction and tragedy in their path and they, apparently, have learned nothing in the process. Inevitably, the continuance of such actions must become policy and that policy must be intentional. If so the pursuers of such policies must be either fools or psychopaths. In either case those policies are unlikely to change anytime soon.

    • M C Martin
      December 14, 2017 at 9:32 am

      The policies are no mistake. Their intentions are succeeding all too well. “Follow the money …”

  5. M C Martin
    December 14, 2017 at 5:12 am

    Greed, lust for power, and mendacity will continue to mask its seeming failures as simple stupidity, without caring a wit about truth, reality, and human rights so long as we continue to allow it. Although it’s possible Pillar is simply using the “interveners” lack of achievement of their stated goals as proof of their incompetence without delving into the more fundamental questions of the basic immorality and illegality of ongoing US interventions (overt and covert), when he fails to outright condemn such intervention in the affairs of other nations he by default supports it, and by supporting it he supports the real reason the interventions are undertaken in the first place: revenues for the military industrial complex and power – not the nominal “success” or “failure” of their stated “goals” which were only manufactured to support the ongoing mayhem necessary to increase the profits of the war mongers. The underlying assumption that “great powers” MUST by nature meddle in other nations’ affairs is left untouched and unquestioned. If it’s a truism that the existence of military power dictates it will be used, then let it be used to punish those who intervene overtly and covertly in the affairs of others. Let justice roll like a river, and let it roll first onto our own shores.

  6. Superman
    December 14, 2017 at 3:58 am

    “Anyone arguing that continuation of Bashar Assad in power is intolerable needs to answer the question “why now?” and to explain how the world and U.S. interests somehow have survived nearly a half century of the Assads” Cmon all ready! Really? 50 years ago there was a little thing called the cod war and the Russian Empire (technically the USSR but who we kidding?) so the US had plenty of lands to conquer and lives to ruin. Those days are gone my dear friend and with the Russian Empire shrinking the sphere of influence of the US grows. The middle east was somewhat controlled at the time via the over throw of Mosaddegh and FDR’s dealing with Saudi. Placing strongmen to run the other countries at the time would be wise. Let us not forget the US has overthrown the Syria
    before in 57. The US smashed Yugoslovia into pieces so it could be more easily controlled and for 17 years it appears to be attempting to do the same in Central Asia and the Middle East. Smaller countries after all are much easier to control then larger ones. The first reason is Syria is not what anyone should be looking at and if you look behind it you will see Iran. One must never forget the true prize and Iran’s only ally is Syria or was before this entire mess started. Placing a friendly government in Syria makes the fall of Iran a bit easier. Second. How many McD’s, Taco Bell’s Exxon’s, GE power plants… .etc does Syria have? Zippy! One must always remember the great phrase by Colonel Mathew Perry while visiting Japan in 1857 “stick em up we’re here for your money!’ Of course I embellished a tad but war is mainly done for economic reason and Syria is large independent of western control in that simply can not be tolerated. Third.. why not? The US can do anything it wants as long as people have no clue and let me just say the people have no clue.

  7. Realist
    December 14, 2017 at 1:29 am

    No question but that most of Washington’s military adventures are blatant violations of international law, damaging not only to the invaded countries but to the American treasury and domestic social programs from which the necessary funds are raided. But who is left upon the world stage to oppose the hegemon and its NATO street-thug enforcers? The United Nations, with Washington’s Security Council veto, has always been a gelding and never a stallion in enforcing world peace. The Warsaw Pact has not only disbanded but rushed to join their age-old adversaries in NATO. The EU would rather stand for vassalage than sovereignty. China would much rather make money than make war, and Russia gets demonized all out of proportion to the half-hearted resistance it puts up against bald American aggression in its front yard. There is simply no country capable of giving full-throated resistance to Washington and its 1000 military bases ringing the planet, so the maniacs in DC attack at will any country that puts up even a political or philosophical defense of principles, rights or interests the least bit at odds with what the neocon warmongers want. How many countries over the past 50 or 60 years have had their governments overthrown or their leaders assassinated by American operatives because they didn’t pass vetting by Langley or the Pentagon? The list is by no means short and could probably justify an entire museum dedicated to the subject.

  8. alley cat
    December 13, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    “…those American habits of thought, which is to believe that the United States is best equipped, and should be most responsible, for setting right any troubled country in which the United States has had more than a passing interest…”

    American troops will stay in Syria to cause trouble, i.e., to protect and sponsor terrorists, not to combat them. Historically, the U.S. military sets troubled countries wrong, not right. That’s what General Smedley Butler (an expert on the subject) meant when he said:

    “I spent 33 years in the Marines. Most of my time being a high-class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and the bankers.”

    — Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.

    Insert the word “Zionist” before “Wall Street” and “bankers” in the above quotation and you will understand why the U.S. military won’t withdraw from Syria until it’s ruled by a compliant stooge.

  9. December 13, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    This was never about Assad, but they needed a figure to be the focus of political enmity because the real reason they want regime change in Syria is too politically-incorrect to speak in public. If you don’t know the history of Syria in the 20th century then you are what they want you to be. Ignorant of what the power structure of Syria is all about. It is led by a coalition of socialist and secular minded “minority” ethnic groups in one sense, and in another sense by the Alawite community who have dominated the military and presidency. The Alawites are often claimed to be a Shia sect, but that isn’t true, they are allied with the Shia for political reasons. In reality Muslims don’t consider them to be real Muslims, because they aren’t, they are like the Druze, neither of which are Muslim but both of which have a long history of integration in Muslim culture in order to protect themselves from persecution as Kafir (unbelievers, heathens). Still the Alawite were a despised and persecuted minority mostly hiding out in the mountains of north-west Syria until the French gained control over Syria after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire after WWI. The French colonial agenda had a policy of using persecuted minorities to their advantage by giving them support and succor so as to gain a dedicated group of people in a colony they could rely on. In Syria that was the Alawite community.

    They gained a new hope under the French, they were no longer so fearful of persecution that they kept to themselves in their poverty stricken villages in remote mountains, many joined the military and became part of the political establishment over time. When the French left they feared a return to their previous status, but through a combination of their dominance of the middle ranks of the military, and the fact that the Sunni establishment saw military service as low-class and didn’t want their kids to be a part of it, and the fact that high ranking Sunni officers were having their own problems, what happened was that the military was effectively taken over by the minority groups and mostly the Alawite. That along with the rise of the Syrian Baathist party (socialist, secular, pan-Arab) which was led by a coalition of Alawites, Druze, Christians, and to a lesser degree Shia and Sunni, they took power in Syria with a military dominated by the Alawites. Over time they became allies with Iran, the main Shia power. Not because they are Shia, they are their own religion with beliefs and practices very different from Muslims, but they have integrated some aspects of Islam.

    The Shia leaders in Iran and Lebanon were willing to give them official decrees as “actual real Muslims” in exchange for their alliance. Still, most Muslims do not accept them as Muslims, but officially they have been given consent by some major Muslim religious leaders as “official Muslims” while other Muslim religious leaders condemn them as kafir, or heathens, as not being Muslim since they have a totally different set of beliefs and practices, which like the Druze, has more in common with other religions and philosophies than Islam.

    That is the real reason for the desire for regime change in Syria. But it would be politically-incorrect to say they want to remove the Alawites since that would appear racist, or to say they want to remove the Syrian Baathists since that would appear politically motivated. So they focus on Assad as “the bad guy.” But in reality they want a completely different Syrian government and establishment because even if Assad was to leave his position, there is the Baathist establishment and governing system which would replace him with another of their ilk who would continue with the same policies.

    • Gregory Herr
      December 13, 2017 at 10:42 pm

      Israel wants everything they can get there hands on and the entire Golan Heights is to their liking. The Golan is also to the liking of Genie Oil & Gas.
      Then there’s pipelines and central banks and stamping out socialism and weakening Iran and destabilizing the underbelly of the Russian Federation….

    • LJ
      December 18, 2017 at 4:34 pm

      The Alawites are an ancient people. Despised ? Not as despised as Jews . Hiding?, not even, When you live in the mountains you have the high ground and a strategic and physical advantage against any and all who approach. . Kurds are also a high ground people.They are a fairly large population and are educated, Bashir Assad for instance has a medical degree from Oxford and speaks several languages. I do not buy your narrative, it is racist and simplistic and one dimensional.,. The Alawites are the most Western like of all groups that call themselves Muslim. They are natural allies with the West. That the USA is against them reflects a lot of inputs the most important of which is our support of Israel which wants the Golan Heights permanently. We also covet Syrian Oil and Syrian geography that we covet for pipelines. Ideologically, the USA is against the interests of any Nation that has Nationalized Oil resources whether Venezuela , Libya or Russia for that matter. Syria also hosts the Russian Mediterranean Naval port which we want to eliminate. . The USA tried to dislodge Assad’s Father in a similar manner and the USSR/ Russians did not abandon Assad’s father then either. US opposition to the Assad government is political and economic. Our nation is immoral and amoral we do not honor our word or our treaties or the allies that we buy. Our recent attempt at Regime Change , like our support of Saudi Arabian policy in Yemen, is in support of genocide. We do not care any more than we care about Fascists in Ukraine. What you wrote isn’t even fact based. The Sunnis are weak. Iran would destroy Saudi Arabia in a War. Saudis are too stupid and inexperienced to meet the Iranians on any battlefield no matter what weapons the USA sells them. Of course the Sunnis want the USA and Israel to do their fighting for them, unfortunately for SA the State of Israel wants Saudi Arabia to do the fighting for Israel and the USA supports Israel when push comes to shove. Most importantly, Syria was a key target for the Neoconservative Project for a New American Century which also hopes to eliminate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah as well. It failed. Kali Ma I will watch your posts now.

  10. December 13, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    I believe Trump has joined the war criminals. He fired 59 missiles into Syria in an illegal act of war and some people were killed. The U.S. is in Syria illegally and that is a fact. I believe we need war crimes trials. See more at link below.
    April 6, 2017
    “Has Trump Become a Chump For the War Criminals?”
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/04/has-trump-become-chump-for-war-criminals.html

    • Realist
      December 14, 2017 at 1:35 am

      The world needs to litigate numerous war crimes trials against Washington, however, it lacks the courage and initiative to organise and do so because any such attempt would be met with a widespread hybrid war against the participants by Washington.

      • Gregory Herr
        December 14, 2017 at 6:57 am

        We even have a “Hague Invasion Act” (2002).

      • jsmith
        December 14, 2017 at 2:59 pm

        I’d be happier if the American simply packed their bags and went home. There’s no need for show trials.

  11. mike k
    December 13, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    There is only one way to cure ignorance and stupidity: education. But what those whose hubris tells them they already know all they need to know? Then they will keep butting their heads against the same old wall – with the same old results.

  12. December 13, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    how many bridges could we build/ roads we could repair etc. with the money being stolen by our highjacked/ rigged “democracy” in which the sheep have the choice of being shorn headfirst our tailfirst! The Germans were beaten up for losing control of their government to raving fascists. What’s the difference for the United States Persons (legal term for what used to be “Americans”)

    • JanisRipple
      December 13, 2017 at 8:11 pm

      Agree.Rebuld our infrastructure rather then destroying others; homes, schools, hospitals, …..???????????????????Let Your Representatives Know.your throughts.
      Warmongering WeaponsProfiteering…Military Industrial Bank, Congress, Pentagon Complex…..Follow the ???

  13. Bolt
    December 13, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    “..Hafez, who put down internal opposition at least as brutally as his son Bashar..” is a commonly repeated trope, while the evidence seems to indicate the opposite at the start of the present conflict. See https://gowans.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/the-revolutionary-distemper-in-syria-that-wasnt/ or Abbie Martin’s interviews with Syrian demonstrators and police.

    It seems the Assads were an ally in the region (rendition program etc) and a US ally until they weren’t, and US supported excesses were condoned, then used as evidence when it suited the Empire.

    Is anyone able to provide independent irrefutable evidence of brutal suppression that does not use Empire sources (MSM, CIA, etc)?

    • Joe Tedesky
      December 13, 2017 at 8:57 pm

      I hate when it’s put that way as well. I mean with all of the known and unknown war crimes the U.S. & it’s Allies have committed it’s hypocritical to the highest order that we Americans still continue to judge other nations leaders. Assad is not a regime, he represents the Syrian Government, but in Western journalists speak he is a regime….Castro always was a regime, anyone who questions the Empire’s edict is marked a demon regime.

      Thanks for pointing this slight of hand out.

    • Gregory Herr
      December 13, 2017 at 10:31 pm

      And it wasn’t simply “internal opposition”…the Muslim Brotherhood, likely in conjunction with Western intelligence, sought violent overthrow of the secular Syrian government from 1979-1982 starting with the killing in June 1979 of 50 cadets. Hafez Assad did match violence with violence and the Brotherhood was brutally defeated in ’82.

      Bashar Assad’s Syria became infested in 2011 with vermin supported by the CIA and others. Assad did not suppress or brutalize any internal opposition. The Syrian government, with bravery and help from Russia and Iran (no, the U.S didn’t and isn’t fighting ISIS), eventually exterminated the vermin.

  14. Abe
    December 13, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    “there remains the most important question for the region: the face-off between the U.S.-Saudi-Israeli coalition and the Shi’ite coalition headed by Iran. The proposal to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and the situation in Yemen have just delayed things, but have not affected the three-party coalition’s determination to deal a blow to Iran’s positions in the region. This does not mean that the question is closed- it is most likely to be raised again in 2018 after the Christmas holidays in the U.S, and closer to the Russian presidential elections. As long as the current regime in Saudi Arabia does not collapse as a result of the current wave of repression led by the Crown Prince, Muhammad bin Salman. And the Houthis may be able to stabilize the situation in Yemen after the killing of Ali Abdulleh Saleh. The main wave of conflict in the Middle East is still ahead of us.”

    Has the War in Syria Finished?
    By Alexander Orlov
    https://journal-neo.org/2017/12/12/has-the-war-in-syria-finished/

    • WC
      December 14, 2017 at 1:08 am

      Abe. As Chris Hedges said in a recent article – “U.N. Resolution 476, adopted in 1980, declared Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem “null and void,” called it “a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War” and said it “constituted a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.” But this resolution and others have routinely been ignored and defied by Israel and the United States.”

      By my count, that was almost 38 years ago, and not much has changed since. God, money and power is believed to be on their side, and I suspect they will continue to push toward their ultimate objective or die trying. On the other side you have the God is Great crowd who firmly believe this life is just a transition stage to something better. All of this is a truly lethal mixture that you have every right to fear going ballistic at some point.

      Is there a cure for all of this before the shit hits the fan? If we are to accept the notion that the deep state more than likely has plans for, not just the middle east, but the world in general, that is what we should first be looking at. And exactly who are the deep state? Are they just wealthy Zionists or are they in cahoots with other money interests, like all of that old money plundered by the European aristocracies, along with the new money interests in America and Asia? We also have to establish a time-line for these deep state plans to probably materialize so as to calculate the speed required for any resistance. Evaluating the time-line is best calculated by where we are in the present economic cycle. If we are to conclude we are near the end of the economic cycle, given the endless amounts of money that have been used to keep the system on life support since 2008, then we had better get our asses in gear.

      While we all appreciate the wealth of information you bring to this site, if the powers that be haven’t been listening for 38 years why would anyone think they are listening now? I suppose we can be wishful and say the BDS movement and other protest groups are having an influence, but that would be a stretch given Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem, which amounts to getting more of what they want instead of less (aka winning, at least for the moment, unless the tide turns which seems highly unlikely). That is a statement of fact and has nothing to do with being pro or anti Israel, Zionist or anything else. All I have been saying from the getgo is the answers go beyond the problems in the middle east, and to focus solely on the middle east takes the mind off the bigger picture.

      Having said all of that, looking at the bigger picture it is also a stretch to think we can have a peaceful, all-out win against this organized cabal. The best we can do without going to war against the bastards is to negotiate our terms on a give and take basis. If they want what is generally known as globalism, we first want proof it is in our collective best interests (not la la land) and secondly we want iron-clad guarantees it will not become a nightmare totalitarian entity. If they are not willing to compromise on those terms they will inevitably get the alternative. As a side-note to the latter option, it won’t be old farts like me and Abe involved in the rigors of urban combat, but rather the young who ironically never had anything to do with creating the mess to begin with.

      So keep givin’ ’em hell. Abe, but don’t lose sight of the fact that there is way more in the mix than just a “little shit-hole state” grubbing for their own self-interests.

      No need for a reply as I’m just throwing this out there as food for thought. :)

      • Abe
        December 15, 2017 at 1:45 pm

        Conventional Hasbara (pro-Israel / pro-Zionist) propaganda troll “WC” continues foaming at the mouth and puking prodigiously.

        “WC” is now desperate to spin a recent Chris Hedges article about Israeli disregard for international law and well-documented war crimes as some sort of justification for Israel’s latest land grab efforts.

        The demented strategy embraced by the Zionist regime was famously outlined by Moshe Dayan: “Israel must be a like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.”

        The world has realized that there is no way to “negotiate” a “deal” with a rabid animal.

        The “mad dog” is about to be put down.

        Netanyahu is foaming about a new “deal” to save his political future and expand annexations of Palestinian and Syrian territory.

        Hasbara army trolls like “WC” try to ‘splain’ it all as a fait accompli, and even dare threaten us all with the specter of another war.

        Indeed the next war will be a political and military catastrophe for Israel.

        The dog goes down if Netanyahu bares fangs and lunges again.

    • Abe
      December 14, 2017 at 4:17 pm

      Conventional Hasbara (pro-Israel / pro-Zionist) propaganda troll “WC” is back, still vomiting “la la land” (nine posts and counting) and “bigger picture” mischigas, still entrenched in a dull inviolability and muttering a Charlie Sheen-style schtick about how Israel is “winning”.

      For previous Hasbara hilarity from “WC” see the CN comments here
      https://consortiumnews.com/2017/11/29/us-bows-to-israeli-saudi-alliance-in-blaming-iran/

      With Israel’s agenda increasingly in peril, Hasbara propagandists are threatening a “nightmare totalitarian entity” and “urban combat”.

      The constant return by “WC” to Hasbara propaganda vomit, or “just throwing this out there as food”, is to be expected as the Israeli and pro-Israel Lobby chickens come home to roost.

      So keep vomiting. “WC”. No doubt you’ll soon feel a need for a reply and resume retching.

      • WC
        December 14, 2017 at 5:48 pm

        Abe. So much for trying to talk sense to a zealot. You are just as bad as the Zionists you believe to be hiding under every bed. What’s worse is you are driving this toward an armed conflict, which is just fine for you because you are too old to do the wet work when push comes to shove.

        For those of you who are young enough to get caught up in the nightmare that is coming as a result of this attitude, remember who and what started this shit when the depleted uranium rounds are chiselling away at the concrete wall you are hiding behind. Mark my words – You ain’t seen nothing yet.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7miRCLeFSJo

      • Abe
        December 14, 2017 at 8:21 pm

        More lurid Hasbara troll army claims that boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel are “driving this toward an armed conflict”.

        Conventional Hasbara (overtly pro-Israel / pro-Zionist) propaganda troll “WC” feverishly mutters about a “nightmare that is coming as a result of this attitude”.

        That’s supposed to scare “those of you who are young enough” to “remember who and what started this shit”.

        Those who are old enough remember: Israel has amply demonstrated that it has no concern whatsoever for the United States.

        So “when push comes to shove” and Israel fires depleted uranium rounds at US troops, it will be no surprise.

        Mark the words of Hasbara troll “WC”, a zealot for Israel and the pro-Israel Lobby.

        • WC
          December 14, 2017 at 9:33 pm

          Abe. In all honesty, I have never in my life run across someone with such a narrow mind. You are a finger-pointer who is not capable of having a rational conversation, but rather behave like the asshole in a crowded room that just slings vitriol, and when asked to support his simplistic view can only quote out of a history book. You have no answers or solutions, and worst of all you are not even asking questions. Just bang the drum louder and louder like the asshole in the room who thinks repetition and vociferousness will solve all of our problems.

          What a stupid old fuck you are to think all of your yammering will not produce the exact same response you are throwing out. This has to be the result of a silver-spooned upbringing to think you can stir the shit and none of it will splash up on you. You need a couple of months in an active combat zone to clear your head of that kind of thinking.

          I am going to crown you the poster boy of putting emotion before logic and reason. You are in fact blinded by emotion. On the Israel question, even Zac has got it figured out the Zionists are winning, but you refuse to accept this obvious fact and prefer to stay in some closeted head space that denies reality. And this is somehow going to solve our problems?

          You had me fooled when I first came to this site with your encyclopedia-like knowledge, but now you are just a major disappointment. So keep banging the drum there, Abe. But be careful what you wish for. ;)

        • Abe
          December 14, 2017 at 10:13 pm

          Conventional Hasbara (overtly pro-Israel / pro-Zionist) propaganda troll “WC” vomits profusely with the slightest li’l tickle:

          “On the Israel question […] the Zionists are winning, but you refuse to accept this obvious fact”

          Israel’s Meltdown
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMGqdtAOFQQ

          Hasbara hilarity ensues.

  15. LJ
    December 13, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    Trump’s illegal mission creep? What about Obama signing an Executive Order his last day in office to further arm terrorists in their losing battle against the Syrian Government. Just how long has the USA /CIA been active in Syria? Longer than 6 years I can assure you. Wasn’t the announced unofficial total 30,000 trained fighters supplied in Syria by the CIA. Come on Paul. Life is a Long Song like Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull on Living in the Past sang about 47 years ago. Just what were Trump’s options besides what he was forced to do ? Kinetic potential has to exhaust itself. OOps . Sorry

    • Daniel
      December 14, 2017 at 5:36 pm

      Obama supporters continuously insisted that the reason he wasn’t able to do all those wonderful things he’d promised was because “he was forced to do” what TPTSB wanted.

      One reason I was relieved that the Clinton Crime Family didn’t get a second occupation of the White House was because I’d hoped that Trump supporters would have more spine, and so would not deny/defend him when he turned around and continued the same policies that the US has been following for decades.

      For a while, my optimism seemed well placed. Some Trump supporters were appalled when he stopped the “Lock Her Up” chants on election night and said we should all honor the Clintons for their decades of public service.

      Then, others were disappointed when he filled “the swamp” with the very Goldman Sachs alumni that he’d spent 2 years rightly disparaging HRC for serving.

      The biggee was the first time Trump ordered the US military to illegally bomb the armed forces of the sovereign country of Syria. There was a huge backlash from Trump supporters. That was when I thought perhaps we, the people would finally unite against this criminal, tyrannical government. I reckon that’s why the MSM underplayed the next two times he bombed Syrian forces, and even shot down a Syrian jet flying in Syria airspace, defending Syrian people against the mostly foreign invaders who have been supported by the US since before the 2011 “pro-democracy revolution” began.

      But the MSM have colluded with the Trump Administration and Democrats to overwhelm us with political theater that has largely succeeded in driving wedges between us, to the point that some of us are literally beating each other in the streets.

      We’re such suckers that I’m finally starting to believe we really do deserve this.

      • LJ
        December 15, 2017 at 6:04 pm

        Maybe some people are stupid but when Trump appointed Gorsuch you should have got a clue. Everything else including this tax cut is on auto pilot and it seems likely that Trump will be forced to resign. Either/or Pense will be a do nothing as well but unfortunately another ” Obstructionist”, I mean “Originalist” will be appointed to the Supreme Court and the next President will be swimming upstream for 4 years. . Democracy /Liberalism is a failed experiment that is locked in a death spiral everywhere in the world. Micromanagement , which is to say, ad hoc rationalization of microeconomic policies is not good governance but that is the future , the next economic downturn in the next election (2020) will dictate as much.

        • Daniel
          December 16, 2017 at 6:45 pm

          I was certainly never a Trump supporter. I had some hope that when Trump supporters saw what he actually did, they would turn on him – unlike most Obama/Clinton supporters.

          But despite some promising movement early on, the MSM political theater and faux protests have succeeded in bolstering his support, and dividing us even more than we had been.

  16. Martin - Swedish citizen
    December 13, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    Thank you for an important article highlighting the fact the US is not yet withdrawing from Syria.
    Maybe interestingly, I have heard Russian media comments that the US will probably stay on in Syria, and also that there might be some benefit in this in terms of protection of the Kurds (from Turkey) in this.

    • Realist
      December 14, 2017 at 1:48 am

      I read that one reason Putin pulled Russian forces out of Syria is because he suspected that Washington was trying to instigate an armed conflict between its forces and the Russians, which could have escalated into a full-out war. The American MSM and congress would go into instant unabated unstoppable war fever if the Russians ever shot down an American plane or bombed an American base. Those American troops are not only meant to permanently occupy part of Syria, thus denying total Syrian sovereignty and not allowing the book to be closed on armed hostilities, but to serve as a potential trip wire to another major war of Washington’s choosing.

  17. Joe Tedesky
    December 13, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Yes, the U.S. will pursue a continue to stay the course mission when it comes to Syria, because while few battles are to be won, the money being made by the MIC is priceless. Other than that, I personally am tired of fighting Israel’s enemies.

    • MichaelWme
      December 14, 2017 at 11:05 am

      Bush, jr, Obama, and Trump are in complete agreement: 9/11 was ordered by the Ayatollahs of Iran and carried out by their co-religionists, the Taliban, Iraq, Libya, Syria, North Korea, and Cuba. Trump says that searching Osama’s computer he found proof of this. No Saudi was involved at all. https://www.cia.gov/news-information/speeches-testimony/2002/DCI_18_June_testimony_new.pdf

      Syria is allowing Russians to squat on military bases that legally belong to NATO (just ask NATO), so the evil regime must be removed. Read the MSM. The evil Russians, Iranians, and Syrians have brutally murdered 600,000 innocent, peaceful members of the pro-democracy group al-Qaeda, many with the illegal poison gas sarin. http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n24/seymour-m-hersh/whose-sarin

      So the rest of Bush, jr’s Axis of Evil remains to be liberated from their evil dictators, for America’s interests, not the interests of any other country.

      (And removing Iran will help the Saudi and American oil and gas interests, so a win-win military exercise.)

      • December 14, 2017 at 3:48 pm

        If it suited the PTB, the KKK would be recast as a Post Slavery Negro Dispersal Motivation Enablers. So as to enrich the entire nation with hard working African Americans by encouraging emigration from the south through some tough love.

  18. fudmier
    December 13, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    Pillar’s hidden realism “how little accountability there is for faulty policy analysis among the Washington chattering classes.”
    Does that translate to “activities for private profits in violation of International law?”

    Apparently more is hidden; Iran to clear Syria of foreign “anyone” not authorized in Syria.. I read (Russia is putting a naval base in Syria, pulled its ground troops from both Syria and Yemen..serious? Saudi interest in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Egypt are coming under challenge
    http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/12/13/545479/Saudi-Iran-Yemen-war-Zarif-United-Nations
    after Russia did an Arms deal with Saudi Arabia, Saleh, head of the GPC in Yemen, reversed course toward Saudi interest, was then assassinated, his GPC party in disarray, Russia moved its presence from Yemen.. Apparently Yemeni are in possession of Saana .. Saleh, Lebanon Minister Saad al-Hariri, detained in Saudi Arabia (mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/hezbollah-leader-accuses- during the same period Egyptian General Sisi visited Saudi Arabia MBS has been busy, Who is in Control in the middle east is changing: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, and ISIS copartners are being challenged? https://www.rt.com/news/412942-erdogan-trump-jerusalem-decision/ may explain what is behind this? Then there is the arrest of Saaskavilli in Ukrane. <=chatter class policy failures.. maybe private profit making ventures ???

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