Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none. – Thomas Jefferson’s Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801
Many people voted for Donald Trump based on his pledge of “America First.” The idea behind this partly relates to the very legitimate concern that the U.S. Empire and its military-industrial-contractor benefactors have been squandering an enormous amount of treasure and tax money on foreign adventurism, funds which could be of much greater use at home helping struggling Americans, fixing our broken economy and infrastructure. I’m starting to become increasingly concerned that rather than winding down America’s foreign adventures, Trump and his team are preparing to expand them.
The always excellent Robert Parry at Consortium News got me thinking about this with his recent post. Here are a few excerpts:
The Kagan family, America’s neoconservative aristocracy, has reemerged having recovered from the letdown over not gaining its expected influence from the election of Hillary Clinton and from its loss of official power at the start of the Trump presidency.
Back pontificating on prominent op-ed pages, the Family Kagan now is pushing for an expanded U.S. military invasion of Syria and baiting Republicans for not joining more enthusiastically in the anti-Russian witch hunt over Moscow’s alleged help in electing Donald Trump.
In a Washington Post op-ed on March 7, Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century and a key architect of the Iraq War, jabbed at Republicans for serving as “Russia’s accomplices after the fact” by not investigating more aggressively.
Then, Frederick Kagan, director of the Critical Threats Project at the neocon American Enterprise Institute, and his wife, Kimberly Kagan, president of her own think tank, Institute for the Study of War, touted the idea of a bigger U.S. invasion of Syria in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on March 15.
Yet, as much standing as the Kagans retain in Official Washington’s world of think tanks and op-ed placements, they remain mostly outside the new Trump-era power centers looking in, although they seem to have detected a door being forced open.
On Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, Robert Kagan’s brother Frederick and his wife Kimberly dropped the other shoe, laying out the neocons’ long-held dream of a full-scale U.S. invasion of Syria, a project that was put on hold in 2004 because of U.S. military reversals in Iraq.
But the neocons have long lusted for “regime change” in Syria and were not satisfied with Obama’s arming of anti-government rebels and the limited infiltration of U.S. Special Forces into northern Syria to assist in the retaking of the Islamic State’s “capital” of Raqqa.
In the Journal op-ed, Frederick and Kimberly Kagan call for opening a new military front in southeastern Syria:
“American military forces will be necessary. But the U.S. can recruit new Sunni Arab partners by fighting alongside them in their land. The goal in the beginning must be against ISIS because it controls the last areas in Syria where the U.S. can reasonably hope to find Sunni allies not yet under the influence of al Qaeda. But the aim after evicting ISIS must be to raise a Sunni Arab army that can ultimately defeat al Qaeda and help negotiate a settlement of the war.
“The U.S. will have to pressure the Assad regime, Iran and Russia to end the conflict on terms that the Sunni Arabs will accept. That will be easier to do with the independence and leverage of a secure base inside Syria. … President Trump should break through the flawed logic and poor planning that he inherited from his predecessor. He can transform this struggle, but only by transforming America’s approach to it.”
By the last years of the Obama administration, the stage was set for the neocons and the Family Kagan to lead the next stage of the strategy of cornering Russia and instituting a “regime change” in Syria.
All that was needed was for Hillary Clinton to be elected president. But these best-laid plans surprisingly went astray. Despite his overall unfitness for the presidency, Trump defeated Clinton, a bitter disappointment for the neocons and their liberal interventionist sidekicks.
Yet, the so-called “#Resistance” to Trump’s presidency and President Obama’s unprecedented use of his intelligence agencies to paint Trump as a Russian “Manchurian candidate” gave new hope to the neocons and their agenda.
It has taken them a few months to reorganize and regroup but they now see hope in pressuring Trump so hard regarding Russia that he will have little choice but to buy into their belligerent schemes.
As often is the case, the Family Kagan has charted the course of action – batter Republicans into joining the all-out Russia-bashing and then persuade a softened Trump to launch a full-scale invasion of Syria. In this endeavor, the Kagans have Democrats and liberals as the foot soldiers.
Robert perfectly sets the stage for exactly how the neocons are attempting to push Trump into expanding these foolish imperial wars, specifically the war in Syria, which is actually just a proxy war against Russia. His warning takes on increased importance when viewed in the context of recent headlines about the Trump administration preparing to ramp up troop numbers in Syria.
First, let’s take a look at an article published March 9th in The New York Times titled, U.S. Is Sending 400 More Troops to Syria:
WASHINGTON — The United States is sending an additional 400 troops to Syria to help prepare for the looming fight for Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate, American officials said on Thursday.
The increase, which includes a team of Army Rangers and a Marine artillery unit that have already arrived in Syria, represents a near-doubling of the number of American troops there.
The United States military has declined to say how many troops it has deployed in Syria. The formal troop cap is 503, but commanders have the authority to temporarily exceed that limit.
"The exact numbers and locations of these forces are sensitive in order to protect our forces, but there will be approximately an additional 400 enabling forces deployed for a temporary period to enable our Syrian partnered forces to defeat ISIS in Raqqa,” Colonel Dorrian added.
Now, Marine artillery is being added, along with logistical support and training and protection in dealing with improvised explosive devises.
Gen. Joseph L. Votel, the head of the United States Central Command, told reporters on Thursday that he was open to asking for more conventional military units if they are needed.
Turning to other regions, General Votel said he agreed the Afghan conflict was stalemated and supported the appeal from the American commander in Afghanistan for additional troops.
Now here’s where it gets a little weird. Less than a week after that article was published, the number of possible additional troops suddenly has surged to 1,000.
The U.S. military has drawn up early plans that would deploy up to 1,000 more troops into northern Syria in the coming weeks, expanding the American presence in the country ahead of the offensive on the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa, according to U.S. defense officials familiar with the matter.
The deployment, if approved by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and President Trump, would potentially double the number of U.S. forces in Syria and increase the potential for direct U.S. combat involvement in a conflict that has been characterized by confusion and competing priorities among disparate forces.
Makes you wonder what the troop levels will be in a week, a month or a year from now. What the heck is going on here and where is the U.S. Congress in all of this? When did we declare war on Syria?
The whole thing stinks of neocon foreign policy infiltration into the Trump administration, and it makes me wonder whether America’s imperial wars will be expanded aggressively under Trump, contrary to what many had voted for.
Let’s hope not, but as we learned under Obama, hope is not a strategy.