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Trump and His Generals: A Fish Rots from the Head

The American public are assaulted each day with pictures of President Trump surrounded by US military generals or senior law enforcement. They serve as a backdrop at many of his news conferences and it displays the marriage of the most corrupt president in US history with the most corrupt military in American history.

Generals like Michael Flynn have been caught lying to investigators and possibly working for a foreign government while a senior security official, in another time and place this would be called treason. General Kelly demonstrated his unwavering Trump support by attacking a member of Congress, which is a direct violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). General Petraeus, ex-CIA director, was convicted of leaking Top Secret documents. Another General was recently court-martialed for years of sexual assault on a child.

Sexual assaults are at an all time high in the US military. Since 2013, military investigators documented at least 500 cases of serious misconduct by generals, admirals and senior officers. One general ran a swinging sex club and lived rent free in the home of a defense contractor.

This corruption and misconduct goes all the way to the top. In 2017, six generals were punished for misconduct. A member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was demoted for sexual harassment. General Wayne Grigsby, 1st Infantry commander, was punished for sexual harassment which displays a complete breakdown in discipline in the US military.

This comes with a period of documented lack of readiness by the military, a shortage of Air Force pilots, falling Army recruitment numbers, and continual naval and aviation accidents leading to the unnecessary death of service members. Nothing displays this lack of command discipline that the death of four special operators killed in Niger last year and a court martial found the officers in charge of a failure of command.

General Mattis was aware of this trend. Before being forced out by President Trump he commissioned a study that showed the failure of the military command to enforce discipline. Court-martials were down 70 percent over the past 10 years and the lessor category of administrative punishments was down by 40 percent.

The military command corruption shows up with disastrous results. Troops guarding America’s nuclear arsenal at F E Warren Air Force Base in March 2016 were convicted of taking LSD on and off duty. This unit managed a third of the US Minuteman missiles. Another group of airmen at Malmstrom Air Base ran a drug ring between 2011 and 2014.

Corruption in America’s nuclear force runs deep. In 2014, 34 nuclear Air Force officers were convicted of cheating on readiness and proficiency tests putting the nuclear arsenal in jeopardy. The US Navy has not been exempt for the Trump era corruption.

Navy Captain Heather Cole funneled nearly a million dollars to her own manufacturing company when managing US defense contracts. Another Navy officer stole 2.7 million dollars to feed his gambling habit.

Is it a coincidence that the most corrupt president in US history has married himself to the most corrupt US military in history?

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Five Reasons Why General Mattis Had to Go

When dealing with military or national security issues it is important to avoid political discussions. This article is neither an endorsement of President Trump nor General Mattis.

The reality with General Mattis was he was a failure as Secretary of Defense. Here are the reasons why.

1. The SecDef’s Syria and Afghanistan strategies failed to recognize the on-the-ground realities and he became another commander who saw everything as a nail since his only tool was a hammer.

The reality of Syria is that American troops in Syria are there illegally. Americans can not bemoan the loss of the old international order when that order was built on international law that makes it illegal for one country to occupy another country by force under United Nations Charter. The USA is in Syria without the permission of the Assad government and it, whether Americans like it or not, is the government of that territory. Americans do not get to pick which laws they want to follow.

The US military does not have a Status of Forces Agreement with the Assad government. This makes them subject to international charges. The Islamic State has been driven from much of Syria except for isolated pockets in the Syrian Desert; therefore, any pretext for US presence in Syria is gone. The reality is that Assad has enough fire power with the help of Iranians and Russians to handle the Islamic State. The United States view that they are there to stop Iran has no basis in international law and is just another form of imperialism under the new world order that General Mattis seems to pine for.

SecDef Mattis’ strategy of builidng a base in al-Tanf was a suicide mission for US troops and a failed strategy that harkened to Dien Bien Phu or Khe Sanh. Some 2000 troops surrounded by hostile forces on the border of Syria/Iraq can only spell disaster or a trap to provoke further military involvement. It is against the will of the American people who voted for a president who vowed to end the senseless Middle East wars.

Finally, the United States is not part of the Astana Reconciliation process, which is run by Syria, Turkey, and Iran. The Kurds must cope with that situation and look for a peaceful solution. A military solution is not an option and United States support will only cause further death and destruction. President Assad has signaled he is open to autonomy for the Kurds and this may be a viable political solution. Not everything is a nail for the United States hammer.

2. SecDef Mattis has failed to improve the readiness of US troops. I am not denying he was dealt a bad hand after 8 years of neglect but readiness has not improved and General Mattis’ solution of throwing money at the problem is a failure. Today, Air Force readiness hovers at marginal levels. Deployment availability is at a record low. The ongoing naval accidents have not stopped and the epidemic of Naval/Marine air training disasters continue. All of these factors show a military in decline and it is the direct responsibility of the SecDef to fix this problem. SecDef has failed in this area.

3. SecDef Mattis’ Afghanistan strategy, against the wishes of President Trump, did not work. The Taliban continues to take territory and it clear that President Trump’s view seeing Afghanistan as a political problem to be solved by the Afghan people was correct. The old adage applies: When in a hole stop digging. SecDef Mattis kept digging and should resign.

4. Though I agree with the civil rights issues of the transgender and HIV issues regarding deployment, SecDef was part of the politicization of these issues and they could have been handled in a different way. These issues were used as a way to jab at the Commander in Chief and could have been handled by waivers if the politics had been removed.

5. It is time to take the blinders off. President Trump is the Commander in Chief. It is not the place of General Mattis to rebuke him in public, even if he is correct. The overall affect is that the Commander in Chief has been weakened. President Trump was elected and General Mattis was not. He should have resigned for his failures and then if he wanted to enter politics as a private citizen that is his right.

William Church

Editor

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Trump Ghosts the Middle East Helping Russian Dominance



Ghosting. The millennials use the term when someone (usually a man) disappears from a relationship after getting what he wants: no telephone calls, no emails, no texts. He becomes a ghost. He moves on to bankrupt another person’s love life.

The United States under Trump “ghosted” the Middle East and North Africa. The United States, under George W. Bush, invaded Iraq, casting it into sectarian violence; under Barrack Obama the United Sates overthrew Gaddafi in Libya and unleashed more violence, and funded rebel groups in Syria, dumping billions of dollars of weapons, and then President Trump threw a grenade into the Jerusalem issue in favor of Israel, and under Trump the United States has lost any significant seat at the table to decide the future of the Levant.

This has never been more evident as the events of the last few weeks unfolded. It is clear the Jared Kushner so-called peace plan never existed or only existed to embolden Israel to continue the dominance of Palestine and pass laws that exclude Arabs from Israel. Trump and Kushner supported the ruthless killer Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) in his boycott of Qatar, which houses America’s largest airbase in the region, and his war in Yemen, starving half the population to death.

Trump aided Russia’s power grab of the regional diplomatic process and it became the region’s military guarantor. Three events in the last two weeks makes it clear that Russia has not only won the military advantage but also the political.

First, Russia is actively working on the reconciliation of Hamas and the Fatah which divided their control of Palestine in 2006. Hamas controls Gaza and Fatah represents the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Part of this shuttle diplomacy is a recent visit to Moscow by Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ top leader. A divided Gaza and West Bank plays into Israel’s hands; therefore, Russia’s efforts deals a geo-political blow to Israel.

Second, the Astana Syrian Reconciliation talks just concluded their 11th meeting and it is clear that Russia, Iran and Turkey are in-charge, without the United States being at the table. The most striking aspect of the brief meeting was a chilling call by Syria, supported by Russia, for all foreign armies to leave Syria. This will force the Kurds to decide between making peace with Assad and gain a level of autonomy without further conflict and shedding their relationship with the United States or face perpetual war with the backing of an ally like the United States that could “ghost” at any minute.

Third, Iran has increasingly felt emboldened after the Trump administration turned its back on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and this week Iran is openly tested new medium-range missile technology. Iran’s President Rouhani has threatened the United States publicly.

He called for the Islamic world to unite against “enemies of Islam which means Israel and the United States.”

At the same time, Revolutionary Guard’s General Amir Ali Hajizadeh appeared on Iranian television and declared that he has the capability to directly attack the American airbase in Qatar, al-Dhafra in the UAE, and Kandahar in Afghanistan.

Trump has ghosted the European Union and they have responded by working to create their own payment channel to by-pass the United States dollar. This move plays into Russia’s hand since it controls 30 percent of Europe’s natural gas flow and strengthens Russia’s ability to be the Levant power broker, and avoid Unites States sanctions, and determine the development of oil pipelines with its new ally, Turkey.

This map explains the Russian advantage. The magenta lines are pipelines controlled by Russia or its allies. The light blue lines are favorable to Turkey.

By gaining geo-political dominance in the Levant and Turkey, Russia has achieved a strategic goal of controlling oil into Europe. The Syrian Civil War forged a quasi-ally relationship between Turkey, Russia and Iran on one hand and unity and distrust against the United States on the other hand.

Trump’s ghosting the region completed the Russian strategy.

William Church

Editor

Islamic World Books

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Debunking Three Syrian Civil War Myths




Myth #1

Climate Change caused the Syrian War and its correlative support statement. Daraa was the center of the opposition.

This myth has been repeated universally to the point that some academics include it in their research. A close examination shows the drought of 2005 to 2007 was a factor but it was a minor factor compared to other, larger issues. Charles Lister in his seminal work The Syrian Jihad reminds all analysts that prior to the Arab Spring there was a Damascus Spring in 2000, with Bashar Assad’s ascension to power bringing the promise of reform and visible movement towards economic reform.

These reforms, according to Lister and others, accentuated the existing corruption that clogged the economic wheels of Syria. In addition, Assad started reducing military expenditure, diverting the funds to economic reforms, though greatly hampered by George W. Bush administration sanctions; therefore, creating a weaker military comprised mostly of Alewite officers commanding some 200,000 Sunni conscripts.

It is important to add another disastrous George W. Bush action that fueled both the demonstrations and the rebellion: the 2003 Iraq invasion. The Iraq invasion fueled the hope of the Kurdish population spread across Syria, Iraq, and Turkey. (The Battle for Syria: Christopher Philips)Though, Daraa broke into revolt on 15 March 2011, the northern area ofAl-Hasakah (largely Kurdish area) saw the first Arab Spring-like action when Hasan Ali Akleh set himself on fire. This was followed by imprisoned Kurdish activists demanding freedom and demonstrations five days before Daraa in Qamishli and al-Hasakah.

A full month before Daraa, the mythological start of the revolt, shopkeepers in Damascus’ famous Souq al-Hamadiyya protested before being joined by 5,000 other Damascene. In addition, there were constant calls for Days of Rage nationwide prior to Daraa.

The American invasion of Iraq had a much larger fatal impact. As discussed by Lister and others, it served as a magnet to Sunni Jihadis from Syria and other parts of the region who would later return to Syria armed, trained, and battle-ready. Ahrar Al-Sham, Saudi funded, would show up in one of the first battles in 2011. Al Qaeda’s al-Nusra would show more caution during 2011 but by mid-2012, as the United States sponsored Free Syrian Army faded, it assumed a leadership role in the revolt.

In terms of armed revolt, Daraa was the third battle of the revolt behind Rastan and Rif Dimashq some two months earlier. In even further contrast, Adam Baczko et al in Civil War in Syria cites June as the first battle of the Syrian Civil War. However, without doubt the March 2011 incidents in Daraa were most sensational and exploitable by the news media because they involved children and provided the best news copy with a Syrian official supposedly telling the families to go make more children and if their husbands could not his men would help. (By now it is fairly certain this never happened.)

In a small concession to the Climate Change theory—borne out of the drought—Baczko points out that largely the non-Free Syrian Army-rebels were from the disaffected countryside. However, the Climate Change theory displays the lack of understanding of Syrian history as described in Philip Khoury’s Urban Notables of Syria. The conflict between the wealthy Damascene landowners and merchants, who controlled the politics of both Ottoman and post-Ottoman Syria, and the rural population by far is the greatest shaper of the events of 2011.

Why is busting this myth important? To cite the March 2011 Daraa events or Climate Change as the cause of the war negates the complexity of Syrian dynamics. No doubt, it played into President Obama’s simpleton approach of arming the Free Syrian Army as a means to bring about regime change and ignoring the much deeper division in Syria. The Syrian Civil War, only on the surface, was about regime military deserters to be exploited by the United States. The Free Syrian Army, rightfully, fell apart within its first seven months as evidence of the greater dynamics. This President Obama and Hilary Clinton blunder ultimately would aid in the death of nearly 500,000 Syrians.

Myth #2

Iran must be countered in the region to stop Iranian regional expansion.

Over 40 years ago, a high-level Vietnamese government official, who was tired of the American led war, responded to the typical United States government tirade about how the United States was fighting to stop Chinese domination with the following:

“If you believe you are here to stop the Chinese then why don’t you go to China and fight them and leave us alone.”

As a young intelligence analyst in Vietnam, this analyst had a similar response after hearing the Domino Theory at a staff meeting.

“Do you know the history between Vietnam and China?”

Therefore, the United States policy in the Levant can only be described as insane when insanity is described as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. The United States needs to learn that nationalism trumps everything. It is for this reason the so-called scholar-General Mattis needs to be placed in the same dunce class as General McChristianson of Vietnam infamy.

First, any rookie-Middle East student knows the area known as Greater Syria is the historical home of Arab Nationalism. This has been well-described in The Great Syrian Revolt by Michael Provence or in The Commander by Lila Parson recounting the struggles of the great (if not ill-fated) Fawzi al-Qawuqji. It is for this reason the Balfour Declaration, in Greater Syria, is considered a supreme act of betrayal by the powers that now wants to control the destiny of Great Syria.

First, it is important to face one ugly truth: Iran did not suddenly appear in Syria in 2011. After the collapse of Soviet empire in 1990, Syria was in need of another benefactor. George W. Bush shut the door on any United States influence in Syria with sanctions. Syria had supported Iran against Iraq during their ten year war so the governments were already bonded. President Obama opened the door again in 2010 until he was pressured by Susan Rice and Secretary State Clinton to change the United States strategy to regime change.

As far as politically dominating Syria, a review of the events in Iraq bears close examination. Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr sets the best model. University of Exeter’s Muhanad Seloom has written that Sadr’s views on Iraqi Nationalism undermines any Iran’s influence. This belies the idea pushed by the United States Intelligence Community that Iran will form a Shia block and control the region. This author conducted extensive interviews in Lebanon during 2017 and found a similar view of Iran in Lebanon.

Why? This is a region that has struggled to gain control of their own destiny for over a hundred years. It is not logical to assume that suddenly Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq would suddenly become Iranian client states. Finally, one must listen to the words of Iran’s President Rouhani when he describes the relationship with the region as cooperative and not dominating.

Second, much has been made of Iran’s need to connect Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon for military supplies. The United States has acted on this exaggerated belief by building an “observation” post at al-Tanf claiming its purpose is to monitor the Islamic State, which is ridiculous since the Islamic State today is largely confined to small pockets in the Syrian desert to the south. Al-Tanf, with over 4,000 American troops, has been established on the Iraq-Syria border to monitor Iranian land movements.

This land connection was vital during the period of 2014-2018 when Iran had an active involvement in the Syrian War but today “Air Hezbollah” lands on the hour at Beirut’s Rafic Harir International Airport. In addition, Iran and Russian, thanks to aggressive United States foreign policy, now have a joint military agreement which allows Russia access to the Iranian airbase at Noyeh, Iran in exchange for continued use of the Syrian base commonly called T4.

It would not be a stretch to suggest that the United States involvement in the Syrian War has been the greatest aid to Iranian integration in the region with Iran/Hezbollah controlling the PMU forces in Iraq, Hezbollah emboldened in the region, and Assad in critical debt both economically and militarily to Iran. Finally, the United States has “bet the farm” on its relationship with the Kurds as a regional wedge. This bet will fail because the Kurds are ultimately pragmatic. They know eventually the United States will go away and they must live within the regional relationships or be at perpetual war.

Only the clinically insane would assume that 4,000 troops, stranded like sitting ducks on the Iraq-Syria border, had any military purpose except to provoke further conflict. It dredges up images of Bien Dien Phu and Khe Sanh.

Myth #3

Two parts to this myth: the Islamic State was a threat to the world and second the United States is in Syria to stop this threat.

This analyst believes the Islamic State, after thorough academic study, will be exposed as a fluke of history and a limited threat. This academic review has just begun with Max Abrahms’ recent publication of Rules for Rebels: the science of victory in militant history and The Master Plan:ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Jihadi Strategy for Final Victory by Brian Fishman.

Fishman goes to the heart of the Islamic State’s myth with the conquest of Mosul when he describes it as “ISIS did not actually fight its way into Mosul…the (Iraqi) army collapsed. He also reported that Mosul’s residents initially welcomed the Islamic State under the mistaken belief they would offer them protection. Abrahms equally savages the Islamic State when he supports President Obama’s initial assessment as the “JV” team, meaning not a prime fighting force.

Abrahms cites the Islamic State’s leader al-Baghdadi as described by Jayish al-Mujahideen leader Abu Abdullah Mohamed al-Mansour in The Islamic State: Disentangling Myth from Reality as being a “mental mediocrity with with limited intelligence”.

When the final history of the Islamic State is written it will be discovered as a hoax as a world threat. It claimed terrorist attacks that it had not organized, coordinated, or funded. Most of the territory it held was vast uninhabited desert and its second major urban territory—Raqqa—could also be described as a set-up since the Syrian government’s forces were conveniently diverted by a United States and Saudi funded war.

In addition, there are gaping questions regarding support for the Islamic State by Israel and even the United States, with documented incidents of United States resources being used to evacuate Islamic State fighters to safe havens and the significant discovery of United States-origin weapons in its arsenal. It has even been suggested that towards the later stages of the effective fighting life of the Free Syrian Army it was a conduit for the resupply of various Jihadi forces ranging from al-Nusra to the Islamic State.

In reality, the Islamic State collapsed almost as fast as it grew. Its purpose had been achieved; provide the United States an excuse to enter the war.

William Church
Editor
Islamic World Books