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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


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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


Islamic World Books