- - Wednesday, June 28, 2017


President Donald Trump would show genius by stopping our military caper in Syria that was stupidly and unconstitutionally begun by President Barack Obama without a congressional declaration of war.

Between 1975 and 2015 — 40 years — the number of Syrian-born terrorists that entered the United States was zero. They committed zero murders. The same is true of Libya-born terrorists. But that latter truth did not deter President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice, then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, from unconstitutionally attacking Libya in 2011 to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi on a hope and a prayer than something good might turn up.

It didn’t. Mr. Obama’s war created a power vacuum filled by warlords and international terrorists. Ambassador Christopher Stevens was soon murdered in a terrorist attack. Millions of refugees fled from Libya across the Mediterranean, which gave birth to a Muslim immigrant crisis throughout Europe. Gaddafi’s conventional weapons were plundered by warlords or sold to terrorist groups throughout the Middle East.

Mr. Obama’s directive to the U.S. armed forces amounted to, “Kill terrorist suspects until Syrians turn swords into plowshares, metamorphose into Canadians, and embrace the United States Constitution and the Federalist Papers as their political loadstars. In other words, Obama was clueless about victory and never expected to achieve it. He attacked Syria and ISIS because he was an echo chamber of the multi-trillion dollar military-industrial-counterterrorism complex that covets perpetual, global war to justify its opulence and exaltation. Mr. Obama even authorized weapons transfers to an al Qaeda offshoot, the al Nusra Front, with only a fig leaf to conceal his support for a foreign terrorist organization.

The irrelevance of Syria to the safety of Americans from terrorist attacks in the United States or to any non-fanciful national security interest was recognized by Congress in 2013. It then refused to authorize war against Syrian President Bashir al-Assad because unconvinced by the fact-free, ahistorical arguments made by President Obama in favor of belligerency. Neither was Mr. Obama able to persuade the American people that Syria posed a national security threat.

Additionally, the United States has neither the power nor the wisdom to bring peace, stability or the rule of law to Syria. It is inherently fragile and combustible. Its borders were arbitrarily drawn by Europeans a century ago in dividing the spoils of World War I. Syria is religiously fractured into Sunnis, Alawites, and Christians. It is further split between Arabs and Kurds. The latter are an arm of imprisoned PKK terrorist Abdullah Ocalan. Syria has zero democratic traditions or credentials. It existed as a province under the Ottoman Empire for four centuries until 1918.

There are no “moderates” in Syria. Experience has inculcated in all Syrians a conviction that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun, not from free and fair elections. President Obama’s starry-eyed endeavor to unearth and train thousands of Syrian moderate fighters was a spectacular failure—like Diogenes’ search for an honest man. An appalling $500 million was expended to train a miniscule number of Syrians to fight jihadists.

Every United States nation-building effort in North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia has been a catastrophe. Libya is convulsed and a mecca for international terrorists. South Sudan has plunged into tribal-fueled genocide. Yemen is beset by civil war compounded by Iranian and Saudi Arabian intervention and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Iraq is on the verge of partition, is politically splintered between Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, and Turkmen, and is fighting an ISIS-led insurgency fueled by corrupt, sectarian rule from Bagdad. After ousting Taliban from power in Afghanistan, we summoned into being successor regimes that commanded and continue to command no popular legitimacy and which would crash instantly if the trillion dollar military training wheels we have provided over 16 years to the Hamid Karzai-Ashraf Ghani governments were removed.

But instead of withdrawing our troops from Syria and cutting our losses as President Ronald Reagan did in Lebanon after Hezbollah bombed our marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, we are pushing the gas pedal on a fool’s errand. We have recently shot down a Syrian warplane and two Iranian-made armed drones at the instigation of National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, among others. That confirms French President Georges Clemenceau’s remark that, “War is too important to be left to the generals.” We are at risk of fighting Russia over Syria when we should be letting the weak and artificial nation implode on Vladimir Putin’s watch.

If Mr. Trump stopped our futile military intervention in Syria now, he’d be faithful to the base that elected him to be president. He’d also be entitled to be thought a genius.

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