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From Down With Tyranny
Two data points to keep in mind as you contemplate the next Middle East escalation -- or rather, as you contemplate the effects of the escalation while others contemplate the escalation itself. You and your preferences are not a factor in their contemplation; they will wage war when and as they choose.
First this, from Pentagon chief James Mattis at the end of February 2018 via Newsweek (h/t Twitter friend Boris Dirnbach):
Now Mattis Admits There Was No Evidence Assad Used Poison Gas on His PeopleRegular readers of our reports were alerted to this deception as early as last April. Among the many pieces presenting contrary evidence was this one.
Lost in the hyper-politicized hullabaloo surrounding the Nunes Memorandum and the Steele Dossier was the striking statement by Secretary of Defense James Mattis that the U.S. has "no evidence" that the Syrian government used the banned nerve agent Sarin against its own people.
This assertion flies in the face of the White House (NSC) Memorandum which was rapidly produced and declassified to justify an American Tomahawk missile strike against the Shayrat airbase in Syria.
Mattis offered no temporal qualifications, which means that both the 2017 event in Khan Sheikhoun and the 2013 tragedy in Ghouta are unsolved cases in the eyes of the Defense Department and Defense Intelligence Agency.
Next this, from NJ Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine on Trump's recent about-face on war with Syria (via email from Kevin Fathi):
Trump's getting awful advice from the foreign-policy swampThere are two points made above. One, Trump's about-face reportedly occurred as a result of "unanimous opposition from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon, the State Department and the intelligence community."
On Sunday I got a call from Mike Doherty. The current state senator and former U.S. Army officer was livid about President Trump's about-face on Syria.
"In the 2016 campaign, his major promise was ending these stupid foreign wars," said the Warren County Republican. "If he breaks that promise with his base, I think he's finished."
As of early last week, Trump sounded like he was sticking to his promise to pull U.S troops out of Syria. On Tuesday, he met with his generals in what was supposed to be a private meeting on the issue.
On Wednesday, leaks from that meeting were widely reported in the press. The reports said his call for a rapid withdrawal of troops from Syria "faced unanimous opposition from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon, the State Department and the intelligence community."
And two, note the other point made by Mike Doherty, the New Jersey state senator quoted above: "In the 2016 campaign, his major promise was ending these stupid foreign wars," said the Warren County Republican. "If he breaks that promise with his base, I think he's finished."
In other words, in one Republican's opinion (a man who, by the way, was "the first prominent politician in New Jersey to back Trump" according to the same article), Trump breaking his stop-stupid-wars campaign pledge will hurt him with his base. (I'm less certain of that than Doherty is, but we'll see. There are certainly other such rumblings on the right.)
Finally, the proposed escalation in Syria could put us in direct, armed conflict with the Russians. From former Green Beret Pat Lang as quoted in the article:
I got an assessment of just how dangerous when I talked with another former Army officer with whom I like to discuss current events.
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