Steve Brown

Why so certain in Syria?

U.S. personnel on patrol in Manbij, Syria, Aug. 11, 2018. (from MilitaryTimes)

I’ll admit, I couldn’t find “Kurdistan” in Northeast Syria on a map before this week nor did I know the relationship between the Syrian Kurdish YPG (who we are supposed to love) and its sister militia, the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, (who we aren’t supposed to love), since they’ve been killing folks in Turkey for years, and which the US Department of State (and Joe Biden) and NATO call a terrorist group. I’m still trying to figure out why the press loved Turkey’s President Erdogan when mourning the loss of Adnan Khashoggi (by all accounts a sweet guy, if an Erdogan propagandist) at the same time Erdogan locked up 1000 journalists and shut down 100+ newspapers and a major TV network and the press have nothing to say on the suffering of their fellow scribes. I think Erdogan is an insufferable despot and anti-Semite and Hamas coddler, yet we are duty bound to defend him and Turkey by NATO treaty. NATO, which the press tells me is “sacred!.. you can’t criticize NATO!” when Trump wanted Europe to pay their NATO share that they have been mooching on for years. 

I didn’t know that YPG are Maoists and declared a “communist revolution”: these are the folks we are “deserting” and have been at war with our (sacred) NATO partner Turkey since 1978 – when they started blowing up Turkish civilians, or ’84 – when they declared war on Turkey… 40 years of conflict. The YPK (remember we love them, don’t want to “desert” them) recruits child soldiers, has kidnapped thousands of children, including girls and shoved rifles in their hands. Probably US made. Yet they’ve done good, too, saved Yazidis from slaughter, kicked ISIS’ butt, but not for us, BTW, but because ISIS was murdering their folks, selling their daughters as slaves, and good on ’em for winning. The enemy of the sister of my NATO-declared enemy is my enemy. Yep, they’re holding ISIS cretins as prisoners, and we don’t want THAT death-cult rabble on the loose. That seems to be a key argument: we don’t want ISIS fighters on the loose. So should we stay in Syria till they all get old?

We’ve been in Afghanistan fighting for eighteen years against the Taliban and they are holding more ground than ever. The Taliban is winning, all the folks with epaulets are failing. I used to believe the maxim that “we either fight them over there or we fight them here.” Will that go on forever? How is the whole conga line of US left/right/center congressfolk rushing to the microphones so darned sure right now given the abysmal failure of this perennially creeping defeat?  

Is it about time someone told the PKK and the YPG to man up and settle?  Can the US get out of this thing? Did you know France’s Macron announced he’s getting the country out of the Middle East at the end of ‘19? Was that a major story?  Did you know four US soldiers died in Syria in January alone? I couldn’t find their names or their life stories amidst page after page of google searches that diverted to stories about “betrayalbetrayalbetrayal” but somewhere, their families are wondering what why.   

I don’t know if I support Trump’s move to reduce the handful of troops we have in Syria. Maybe the aging anti-Vietnam protesters (I was one) who hate Trump’s every move think four is a dandy number of American troops to die for a dusty patch of Syria.   Maybe ten, maybe a hundred.     

I just have no idea how anyone else seems so darned sure.  

About the Author
Steve Brown is a registered architect and has headed an architecture, environmental design, and construction firm in the Philadelphia, PA area since 1985, whose recent work includes several Net Zero Energy projects.