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Why Trump’s Syria 'Surge' Will Fail
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Last week President Trump significantly escalated the US military presence in Syria, sending some 400 Marines to the ISIS-controlled Raqqa, and several dozen Army Rangers to the contested area around Manbij. According to press reports he will also station some 2,500 more US troops in Kuwait to be used as he wishes in Iraq and Syria.

Not only is it illegal under international law to send troops into another country without permission, it is also against US law for President Trump to take the country to war without a declaration. But not only is Trump’s first big war illegal: it is doomed to failure because it makes no sense.

President Trump says the purpose of the escalation is to defeat ISIS in Raqqa, its headquarters in Syria. However the Syrian Army with its allies Russia and Iran are already close to defeating ISIS in Syria. Why must the US military be sent in when the Syrian army is already winning? Does Trump wish to occupy eastern Syria and put a Washington-backed rebel government in charge? Has anyone told President Trump what that would to cost in dollars and lives – including American lives? How would this US-backed rebel government respond to the approach of a Syrian army backed up by the Russian military?

Is Trump planning on handing eastern Syria over to the Kurds, who have been doing much of the fighting in the area? How does he think NATO-ally Turkey would take a de facto Kurdistan carved out of Syria with its eyes on Kurdish-inhabited southern Turkey?

And besides, by what rights would Washington carve up Syria or any other country?

Or is Trump going to give up on the US policy of “regime change” and hand conquered eastern Syria back to Assad? If that is the case, why waste American lives and money if the Syrians and their allies are already doing the job? Candidate Trump even said he was perfectly happy with Russia and Syria getting rid of ISIS. If US policy is shifting toward accepting an Assad victory, it could be achieved by ending arms supplies to the rebels and getting out of the way.

It does not appear that President Trump or his advisors have thought through what happens next if the US military takes possession of Raqqa, Syria. What is the endgame? Maybe the neocons told him it would be a “cakewalk” as they promised before the 2003 Iraq invasion.

Part of the problem is that President Trump’s advisors believe the myth that the US “surge” in Iraq and Afghanistan was a great success and repeating it would being the victory that eluded Obama with his reliance of drones and proxy military forces. A big show of US military force on the ground – like the 100,000 sent to Afghanistan by Obama in 2009 – is what is needed in Syria, these experts argue. Rarely is it asked that if the surge worked so well why are Afghanistan and Iraq still a disaster?

President Trump’s escalation in Syria is doomed to failure. He is being drawn into a quagmire by the neocons that will destroy scores of lives, cost us a fortune, and may well ruin his presidency. He must de-escalate immediately before it is too late.

(Republished from The Ron Paul Institute by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, Syria 
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  1. Interference in Syria and threats against Iran and China are inconsistent with Trump’s stated intentions regarding detente with Russia. Either Trump lied about his foreign policy or he is not in fact the author of said policy. I don’t know which is worse. Trump did talk about creating a “safe space” in Syria. Perhaps that means putting the Sunni on a reservation between Syria and Iraq thereby severing the Shia Crescent. That could be an acceptable plan B to the originators of plan A (Assad must go). If Trump wants to Make America Great Again for the American people he will withdraw from the region entirely and leave Israel and Saudi Arabia to their own devices.

    • Replies: @jtgw
  2. jtgw says:

    Trump was always in favor of invading Syria to fight ISIS, so that part is nothing new. I think what maybe wasn’t clear was whether he was going to completely reverse Obama’s position on the Assad regime and ally with them against ISIS, or whether he was going to keep trying to have it both ways as Obama and Hillary wanted. I think the problem is Iran and Israel. You can try to be friends with Russia, which would incline you to side with them and Assad in Syria, but then Iran is also backing Assad, and Trump was vehemently against Iran on the campaign. How would Trump manage to avoid any kind of working alliance with the Iranians if he was also going to work with Assad and Russia?

    Your conclusion is spot on. It’s just a total mess in that region and you can’t pick any side without picking fights with all sorts of other people you don’t want to be fighting. We just need to stay out of it and let them work it out for themselves. But fat chance of that happening in real life; there are too many domestic lobbies with interests in one side or another.

  3. Another possibility not mentioned by Ron Paul is that the U.S. wants to take the credit for finishing the war against ISIS in Syria when it is Russia that has really done the heavy lifting.

  4. I am puzzled by this mindless action as well. There is no UN or NATO or Congressional approval to send troops into Syria. If Trump wants to fight ISIS, there are lots left inside Iraq. Why not focus on them while the Syrians and Turks clean up Syria?

    The only thing that makes sense is the Saudis have ordered the Pentagon to keep an open route for a natgas pipeline to Turkey. Yes, the Saudis have more influence among our Generals than Trump, which is why we are now bombing Yemen too.

  5. Ivan K. says:

    The action is irrational, at least at face value, and, to my mind, it’s abhorrent. …
    Let’s take a look at how it may look from the POTUS’ perspective.
    The US has been a loser and militarily humiliated a whole series of times in the past two decades. It’s also financially constrained, and it’s therefore a time for withdrawal.
    The US is also a country that, unlike Micronesia, has to take care of its prestige / respectability.

    It is a universal truth that security is considerably dependent on the respect you enjoy in the eyes of others.
    To fail repeatedly in anything and withdraw just like that
    - not only looks bad
    - not only feels bad and is potentially demoralising
    But, also, it may incite those who have contempt for you (and there are always such people and entities) to think you’re a good target: “Now they are down, now it’s time to attack them.”


    It is really a good thing to show a saving grace before a systematic withdrawal.

    It’s rational when I look at it that way.

    In addition: DJT starts off his “Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again” (2015) talking about – the just started Russian intervention in Syria! How horrible is that Russia has shown more initiative than America! As if countries are schoolboys vying for attention. That’s Trump’s immature, boyish side. Hopefully it’ll be contained.

  6. bob sykes says:

    Once ISIS is gone from Syria and Iraq, it will still exist in many other Muslim countries. Will Trump chase it from mole hole to mole hole forever.

    And even with ISIS gone from Syria and Iraq, the Sunni Arabs in the Tigris and Euphrates Valleys, the actual source of the insurgency, will still be there, looking for another leader to continue the fight.

  7. Renoman says:

    It will fail because everything America does fails. It’s all about filling pockets and selling shit, they don’t care who wins.

  8. KenH says:

    It seems to me that this mini “surge” is mostly symbolic and Trump is trying to show the nation that he’s serious about defeating Syria. Soon we’ll be reading and hearing about success stories of killing this or that group of really bad guys and how we finally have em on the run. But we’ve heard that at various times during the Dubya and Obama years and this latest turn of events will change little.

    Our actions will count for nothing since radical Islam can spread geographically like cancer via liberal (suicidal) immigration policies and refugee resettlement in the West. Vetting, extreme or otherwise, is a joke. A Muslim ban really is necessary which could then bottle ISIS and like groups up in fewer regions. Then nations can begin squeezing them like a boa constrictor until they’re a lifeless husk.

    So despite his campaign promises and rhetoric, with Trump we still have invade the world, but invite the world a little less with extreme vetting.

  9. Musto says:

    It makes sense in part based on some of what was said here. Previous US policy was a failure. Assad survived. The Russians saved him and helped defeat ISIS. Trump can’t reverse that and needs to keep a US hand in the game via troops on the ground for whatever regional deal they are trying to work out, Russia included. It could all end in war, unless in some unimaginable way, a peace of some sort between Israel and Iran can be worked out. That is, of course, a big “unless.”

  10. tomgreg says:

    He may just be throwing a bone to the neocons in the hopes they shut up, which, of course, will not work.

  11. DanCU00 says:

    I think Trump’s strategy makes great sense. If Russia and Syria are already defeating ISIS, then lets be part of that. Everyone who pitches in gets to share in the glory.

    If ISIS is defeated with no help from America, it really makes us look second rate. Everyone wants ISIS defeated, even aging hippies with withered flowers in their gray hair.

    I am not saying that we should fight every boogeyman. And in my defense, I do agree with all sensible Americans that John McCain is the worst Senator in our lifetimes for his stupid hawkishness among other things. But this is not John McCain’s strategy. (McCain’s strategy would be to destroy Assad, allow ISIS to blossom and then establish a point system to give US citizenship to terrorists with priority to those who have beheaded the most.)

    ISIS practices slavery, sex trafficking, genocide, beheadings, burnings and about 50 other innovative ways to kill people grotesquely. Defeating ISIS is pure heroism with little downside.

    The normal argument not to intervene is so that you don’t make things worse. But I fail to see how things can get any worse.

    On the other hand, taking out Assad is really dumb because (1) you would be HELPING ISIS, and (2) by taking out a functioning government you could making things much worse.

    • Replies: @KenH
  12. bluedog says:

    Trumps strategy is the same as Bush’s and Obamas and his will fail too interesting but I see he sent 4100 troops to Kuwait, now the interesting part is why Kuwait and not Iraq if he’s going to fight ISIS, or perhaps they are there to help the Saudi’s in Yemen lol the more things change the more they remain the same, “change you can believe in” was Obamas cry I wonder what Trumps will be..

  13. KenH says:

    Everyone who’s followed current events will know we’re just bringing up the rear. The bulk of the fighting and bleeding has been done by the Syrian Army and Hezbollah with help from the Russian Air Force and special forces. Our actions wouldn’t fool anyone except the low information types.

  14. The Master’s piece cannot be assailed. What is at issue for me is why Trump is on this fool’s errand.

    I suppose we need to take him at his word regarding making America great again, and with respect to the military he must really want to “win” in the manner of WWII’s propaganda version.

    So, a couple of things: first, that we “won” WWII to make a lot of the world safe for outright communism and safe for socialism in America. But Trump seems to follow the Pollyanna version because we can never have soldiers die in vain. The debacle in the Yemen raid proves that out. The military and Trump line is how glorious a success it was, and they’re banking on a dead soldier to shame anyone thinking otherwise. After we fail with this next version of Middle East war, there will be a Pollyanna story like WWII but the truth will be ghastly.

    Second – ISIS has sure embarrassed the hell out of the entire Western military complex. Obama called them Junior Varsity to Al Qaeda, and they soon enough carved out a country of their own. Now, the Pollyanna version of ISIS is that golly, we just don’t know where they came from after the billions of dollars in cash, military hardware, and training that we, the Saudis, and others gave them. We just haven’t been serious about our war on ISIS. Obama is the Junior Varsity.

    It follows then, that they are going to be defeated easily if we just do a couple of things right: keep our plans secret and hit them like no tomorrow. So Trump is pretty damned naive.

    ISIS took over Mosul in a matter of days. A multi-country coalition has been fighting them for months, and they still can’t take Mosul. If Trump doesn’t learn from this, he’s a fool.

    His plans in Syria follow from the general theory of wanting to make America Great Again by finally winning a war decisively against some bronze-age goat herders with AK-47′s. Unlike Junior Varsity Obama he wants to fight ISIS both in Syria and Iraq instead of funding them in Syria and fighting them in Iraq. So there’s a strong consistency in his foolishness.

    If and when he manages to reduce the entire ISIS territory to glass and bloody stumps, I wonder what his plan is. We just left Europe in WWII, leaving half of it to the communists and their criminal gangster government. But we beat the Nazis so hey – we won. This must be his thinking. You beat ISIS and that’s the end of it. An even more virulent bunch of crazies can fill the vacuum and we can still claim it as the first “good war” since WWII.


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