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Danny Sjursen: Ringing in a New Year of War
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On December 9th, the Washington Post covered Donald Trump’s offhand, if long expected, announcement of the ousting of retired Marine General John Kelly from an embattled White House. Its report focused on the chief of staff’s “rocky tenure” there with a nod to his many merits, among them that he “often talked the president out of his worst impulses.” Buried deep in the piece, though, was a single line that caught my eye (and possibly that of no one else on this planet): “Kelly told others that among his biggest accomplishments was keeping the president from making rash military moves, such as removing troops from sensitive zones.”

It was admittedly neither a direct quote, nor attributed to anyone, nor elaborated on in the rest of the piece. So that’s all we know, not whether Kelly took particular pride in stopping the president from removing American troops from, say, Syria, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, or for that matter Niger. But however passing and non-specific that line may have been, it seemed to catch something striking about these last two years, a time when those in the mainstream opposition to the president have come to love so many of the retired generals and former heads of outfits like the National Security Agency and the CIA, and have turned them into the equivalent of security blankets for the rest of us. They were the men (because they wereall men) intent on talking Donald Trump out of “his worst impulses” and so, in the phrase of the era, they were the “adults in the room.”

Thanks to the wars and other shenanigans that those “adults” had already been so deeply involved in and the money — more than $5 trillion of it — squandered on them, they were also the men who helped generate the dissatisfaction that gave Donald Trump his opening in the first place. And now, having been part of the problem, they are in full chorus condemnation of Donald Trump’s most recent solution: to withdraw American troops from Syria (and soon evidently from Afghanistan as well). We — that is, the country whose actions were crucial in creating ISIS in the first place — are now the only “bulwark” against its return. That goes without saying, of course, among Republicans, Democrats, the national security elite, America’s generals, and that last “adult” in the room, Secretary of Defense James Mattis — or at least it did until, days ago, he resigned in protest. And as U.S. Army major and TomDispatch regular Danny Sjursen suggests in his year-ending piece, as that one Washington Post line about Kelly indicates, they worked awfully hard to ensure that President Trump wouldn’t withdraw from any part of the mess they made. With that thought in mind and withdrawals about to be under way on an increasingly grim planet, Happy New Year!

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Donald Trump 
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  1. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:

    Although he could (and still should) speak more plainly, I am pleasantly surprised to see Mr. Engelhardt calling out the recycled lies of Big War.

    Many of those who were dissident during the Cheney administration have been divided & conquered with orchestrated racial, sexual, climate change, etc., conflict since 2009. Under a President Obama who could do no wrong and now a President Trump who can do no right, many peacemongers have given the Establishment a pass, distracted by transgender statues and Confederate bathrooms.

    Whether the President intends to follow through, the people of this country may now have a rare chance to sober up Uncle Sam. We already know that the Establishment media are undermining the announced withdrawals. I look forward to seeing who will stand for peace, and who will sell out.

  2. The jubilation of some over Trump’s announced intentions to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan may be quite premature.

    The military-industrial complex, a small part of the deep state, remains intact and very, very powerful. They’ve been playing Trump for some time now and there should be little expectation that they will yield now.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  3. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:

    Based on today’s reportage about President Trump’s meeting with Senator Graham, those who doubted the announced withdrawal were sadly correct.

    And now Mr. Engelhardt can safely rail against warmonger Trump, while tiptoeing around the Nobel Peacenik who preceded him.

    Who isn’t part of the puppet show?

  4. AWM says:

    I thought we all profited from “broken windows?”
    I guess it was just the MIC (and their shills) all along.

    It would be much simpler if they just took the Eminiar VII vs Vendikar approach.
    You know, “computer war” where we “casualties” just walk into a disintegration chamber.
    Just imagine the “profits” from that, plus you could “target” the assets of particular citizens
    to be seized by the state for redistribution after their “war death.”

    Of course the captain reminded us:

    “actual war is a very messy business. A very, very messy business”

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