[ Editor’s Note: We have been so caught up in current controversies, I thought it was time to take a step back for the long view which is needed from time to time, aka “how did we get from there to here”.
As we face new challenges, we need to take stock on how well we did in the past. One of my favorites is to look at US overseas adventures to see if they paid off as they were presented to us.
VT readers know what a sketchy track record that is, so we have to ask ourselves, why can’t we stop repeating the same mistakes over and over? The simple answer is that despite our having a vote, that does not seem to affect what happens much in foreign policy, as historically people vote on domestic policy issues.
Because Mr. Trump has been so effusive in his claim to be Mr. Numero Uno on unipolarism, this was the theme I chose. This was not dashed off in an evening, but a several days project while juggling VT current tasks.
While this piece roams all over the world, we also find ourselves roaming all over northern Syria, following a fast moving military conflict and a political one.
It looks like a busy week coming at us. Iran and Saudi Arabia are in talks, as are the Houthis, while the world is lining up against Turkey’s incursion into Syria as a counter terrorism action when Turkey has been involved in terrorism inside Syria for years, as have others. It has sadly become an industry…JD ]
– First published … October 12, 2019 –
“With a gentleman I am always a gentleman and a half, and with a fraud I try to be a fraud and a half. ~ Otto von Bismark, Prussian statesman who dominated German and European affairs from the 1860s until 1890.
American Unipolarism may seem like a Trump-inspired creation, but it has deeper roots. As a concept, Unipolarism was created long before Trump took center stage. He has just taken it to a new level, telling country after country that if they do not do what he says, he will punish them via a variety of sanction tools, or even military force if he so desires.
Paul Wolfowitz, in his infamous 1992 Defense Planning Guidance paper, promoted the need for Washington to “account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our [US] leadership or seeking to overturn the established economic and political order.”
How ironic to watch Trump take a wrecking ball to the established economic order with his sanctions jihad, as he raises the bar for chaos theory.
Unipolarism comes out of the closet
From The Guardian back in 2007 we have, “The problem with the US hegemony is that it’s hegemonic, not that it’s American.” The Guardian went on to say, “The intervention in Iraq has strengthened the very forces of extremism and violence it was meant to weaken, with the result that we are in much greater danger.”
Recently, we saw sudden mass uprisings in Iraq timed with the start of their big religious pilgrimage, apparently because Iraq had been working to get trade with Syria cranked up again, and with militarily wiping out the last remnants of ISIS in the border areas.
Historically, these demonstrations have happened in July during the summer heat, and so, the smell of another regime overthrow effort is in the Iraqi air.
President Putin characterized the hegemony issue in his 2007 historic Munich Security Conference address, which has become a classic, where he stated that the unipolar model is inherently flawed,
“…Because it concentrates power in ways that are unhealthy and undemocratic…The United States, in contrast, is in favor of interference in other countries on principle: because it seeks a Unipolar world, with a single democratic system, and considers itself the final authority as to which regime a country should have and how it should run its affairs”.
Syria is still unipolarism’s ground zero?
Putin’s words are as true today as they were twelve years ago. But now we have the king of unipolarism with us in Mr. Trump having taken his flamboyant reality TV show style into the Whitehouse, issuing orders about who must do what, or else suffer the consequences.
Today Trump casually stated that, … “While we only had 50 soldiers remaining in that section of Syria, and they have been removed, any unforced or unnecessary fighting by Turkey will be devastating to their economy and to their very fragile currency,”
Turkey has its own unipolar game going on in Syria
The Turkish Air Force bombed the Rabia border crossing in Syria’s Hasakah Province, the main Kurdish supply line for war materials that have been going into the SDF Kurds from US bases inside Iraq. Mr. Trump stated today that those supplies, along with paying the Kurds, had cost a huge amount of money.
Turkey claims it has been shelling People’s Protection Units (YPG) in al-Malikiyh town, northern Hasakah. The Kurds of course have put in a quick call to Damascus − the expected, “Hey, we made a big mistake, the Americans are leaving us to be pounded by the Turkish Army, we want to come back.” They claim to have contacted Russia for possible support in fighting off the pending Turkish offensive against them.
This “second” Trump Syrian pullout is as confusing as the first one
There is confusion about what areas the US pullout extends to. The US troops that had been patrolling around the north Syrian border could be shuffled over to Deir Ezzor province; for how long we don’t know, because the Russians and Syrians are building a bridge at Deir Ezzor. So, the troop movements there would indicate Trump is not bringing them home as he stated initially.
The Pentagon says it was caught totally by surprise and the Russians have indicated that new with the Syrian Constitutional Committee set up that all parties must avoid any actions that would impede their work.
The US’ low-key British partners in the SDF area said they only learned about the pullout from the mainstream news, and then had to scramble to get their people out − although Trump said, “I consulted everybody, I always consult people.”
Some of Trump’s language indicated a complete pullout; but we don’t really know, because not even Trump may know. And we know from experience, he can change his mind in a minute.
Can Damascus maintain control of recaptured territory and confront Turkey?
Since the first phase of the SAA campaign to retake Idlib and taking back all of northern Hama, no major efforts have been made to go further north. It seemed strange for the Syrian Arab Army and Russians to stop their combined efforts, as they have been an effective team.
Recent Idlib fighting has centered around destroying jihadi war infrastructure and also trying to push those in the West farther away from the Russian airbase.
I had been thinking that Damascus wanted to save its combat forces and was waiting to see what was going to happen with the Turkey-US shotgun marriage in north Syria, and how long it would last. It ended today.
The tactical combat map in Syria has been shifting. As Netanyahu struggles to stay out of jail on corruption charges, IDF bombing raids into Syria have dropped off. Even the commercial Syria-Iraq border crossing at al-Bakumal opened last week; it has not been bombed by “unknown forces”, despite the Iranians rebuilding their base just a few miles east of the crossing after two earlier precision drone strikes.
The US supervised terror at the Al-Tanf refugee camp on the Jordan border should be internationally sanctioned. US jihadi proxies ruthlessly exploit the refugees there − stealing their humanitarian aid, charging them for water − all while performing light infantry patrol duty for their US masters who seem to stay inside the wire.
ISIS cells have infiltrated back into the Daraa area south of Damascus, the scene of endless bloody fighting. They are launching IED attacks on road traffic there once again, killing Syrian soldiers.
A partial list of unipolar target updates
US economic sanctions extend to Asia, where India is threatened with US sanctions if it proceeds with its purchase of a Russian S400 system, a sanction which seem off the rails because after what happened to the Saudi Aramco facilities, who would want to bet their lives on the US Patriot system?
Merkel has been told repeatedly by Trump that Germany should walk away from the new Russian Nordstream 2 gas pipeline, despite the fact its economy has almost flat-lined. Keeping gas prices low with a dependable supply is not a luxury for the Germans, but an economic national security.
Venezuela remains economically encircled by a South American version of a Gulf-states coalition, in which members pledge to take a targeted country down. Despite claims by the US that civilians are not being targeted, they have been dying due to shortages of medicals supplies that US sanctions block via payment restrictions.
North Korea is getting tired of the song and dance show that US negotiators are doing, saying that no progress is being made and the US delegation just seems to be putting on a show so Trump can get more brinkmanship press coverage.
We all expected from the beginning that the only feasible way for any North Korea de-escalation was for the US to ease of sanctions in stages reciprocating NK’s denuclearization steps. To date we are still stuck on stupid with Trump’s position that NK must dismantle its entire nuclear program before ANY sanctions are removed. North Korea would never do that, hence, we seem to have a fake negotiation going on.
Libya continues to be carved up like a pizza via a number of countries supporting mercenary groups fighting the Tripoli government. Some suspect that the internal Libyan turmoil is kept cooking to distract it from hunting down all the Libyan wealth stolen after Gaddafi went down.
In Hong Kong, the smell of the CIA is in the streets, as civilian protesters display some of the creative mayhem talents that you would expect of trained Special Ops military people creating regime change circumstances.
Iraq is looking into a repeat of the Madain coup in Ukraine where mercenary snipers were brought in to shoot both police and protesters during their recent violent protests. Iraqi police were only firing rubber bullets so who shot the protesters?
Qatar is losing its big US airbase, and − you guessed it! − is sanctioned by the US. Fortunately, Qatar does not need the income from the base lease. Can you imagine what a hoot it would be if Qatar leased the base to Iran to use, and then Trump had to own that during next year’s election season?
Trump has doubled-down on the EU with new sanctions − and legal ones, too − because the World Trade Organization approved them due to the EU having subsidized the AirBus flight program to the detriment of Boeing. Regardless of the WTO’s approval, the EU has declared it will roll out counter sanctions.
Trump’s claim to have complete immunity gets sanctioned by US Appeals Court
Trump’s own personal ‘sovereignty’ is at risk, since an appeals court threw out his case to stop the New York State Attorney General obtaining eight years of the Trump organization’s tax returns. Insiders say the current Ukraine impeachment effort will pale in comparison to what is expected to be in those returns.
Mr. Trump has been busy with his Twitter, denouncing Democratic leaders as traitors and asking China to investigate Mr. Biden, then claiming there is nothing wrong with that. China has responded that it would not investigate, so it will probably get more sanctions.
Mitt Romney is already being mentioned as a Republican primary challenger to “save the Republican party” from destruction by Trump’s free wheeling actions. We are going to see an incredible political battle fought in the US, while Trump’s geopolitical one rages on in tandem.
Jim W. Dean, managing editor for Veterans Today, producer/host of Heritage TV Atlanta, specially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.