Donald Trump recently decided to end a covert CIA program to arm and train anti-Assad Syrian Rebels. This is a rare case where Trump made the right decision. It’s hard for anyone who rationally understands the conflict to disagree. Surprisingly, many who calls themselves “liberals” disagree with Trump’s move. In the one decision liberals should theoretically support, there is fierce opposition.
I have written several pieces on Syria. It’s nearly redundant to repeat points that have been made several times. Syria is a critical issue, however. The Syrian Civil War is one of the most complicated conflicts in modern history, but the mainstream media in the west paint a black and white picture of the conflict: Assad is a ruthless dictator who slaughters his people, while the rebels are innocent freedom fighters seeking freedom from tyranny.
The Syrian Civil War has many actors involved, and conflicting interests. There is the Syrian government under Bashar Assad, backed by Russia and Iran. The Syrian government is also supported by several militia groups, Hezbollah being the more prominent. Assad’s government, surely, are responsible for their share of brutality. He’s a dictator. His adversaries, however, are just as ruthless as Assad can be.
There are a number of splintered rebel groups. Nearly 60 percent of these rebel groups are known to be jihadist groups, many associated with Al Qaeda. The most prominent rebel group is Al Nusra front, Al Qaeda’s branch in Syria. Various other jihadist militias exist. These groups have been backed by the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar. The rebel groups labeled “moderates” are usually closely tied to Al Nusra. Then there is ISIS to consider.
ISIS, formerly Al Qaeda in Iraq, is a quagmire on its own. ISIS grew out of America’s illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. Over time, ISIS branched off from Al Qaeda and took advantage of Iraq’s fractured society. When the Syrian Civil War erupted, ISIS took advantage and seized vast swaths of Eastern Syria. ISIS has committed a mass number of atrocities, from its de-facto capital of Raqqa.
Since 2013, the US had covertly attempted to arm and train so-called “moderate” rebels. The program proved expensive, and a failure. At its peak, the program cost over 500,000,000 dollars, some estimated close to one-billion dollars. The proposed goal to arm moderate Syrians backfired. In one case, a batch of CIA trained rebels handed over their weapons to jihadist rebels. The moderates are nearly nonexistent at this point.
Objectively, the CIA program proved costly and counterproductive. This being the case, how any rational person can argue its worth continuing is mind-numbing. Many liberals, unfortunately, are now sounding like neo-cons on this matter. It’s hard to imagine someone calling themselves a “progressive” and support the continuation of war.
How principled these neo-liberals are. The position is to oppose Trump no matter what. The Russia card is also heavily implicated here. The main point most mainstream press claims are that Donald Trump did a deal with Russia on Syria. This neo-McCarthyism that Democrats float around is problematic to rationality.
Even if Trump did make a deal with Russia over Syria, explain why exactly that’s bad? Why should the US waste more time and money to fund another civil war in the Middle East? Is this petty action simply to spite Russia? Meanwhile, the Middle East is further destabilized. What gain, other than thumbing the Russians, do we, the American people, gain?
The entire Russia hysteria pushed by neo-liberal Democrats has gone out of control. Memes and statements circulate, even among so-called “progressive” outlets, of anti-Russia sentiment. Russia is described as our “enemy” and that they can never be trusted, ever. Russia under Putin is a world evil, and stole the 2016 election for Donald Trump. Echoes of the Cold War are all over. So-called liberals are sounding more and more like Dick Cheney.
Anyone who dares to question the mainstream neo-liberal narrative about Russia are branded traitors. Words like “Putin’s bitch” or “Russian troll” are typical these days. Progressive Spring was even accused once by a commentator of being run by a troll in “Macedonia”, clearly working on behalf of the Kremlin. This is the level of discourse skeptics are facing. Any critical view of the narrative is being an ally to Vladimir Putin.
I have written pieces in the past criticizing Putin. Despite this, the barrage against skepticism of the Russia narrative continues. Putin is certainly no progressive. He’s an authoritarian relying on a thin power-base of oligarchs in Russia to maintain control. Having said that, Putin is not the maniacal neo-Stalinist that we are told. The founder of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, no fan of Putin’s, claimed the narrative against Putin is misleading in many ways.
The US supports a menagerie of despotic governments across the world. Saudi Arabia is our top ally in the Middle East, a theocratic monarchy of epic proportion. There are no serious elections in Saudi Arabia. Women cannot drive or leave their homes without male supervision. Sharia law, the dreaded right-wing buzz words, is strictly enforced. People can be publicly whipped or executed for crimes such as being an apostasy, drinking or taking drugs, even practicing sorcery. Trump also has personal ties in Saudi Arabia. He registered eight new businesses there during the 2016 election. What makes so-called collusion with Russia worse than Saudi Arabia?
Syria, of course, is still caught in the middle of a vicious proxy war. Much of the bloodshed is on Assad and Russia as it is on the rebels and their US and Gulf State sponsors. It is far from a clear-cut conflict. The mainstream neo-liberal narrative persists, however.
It is disheartening to see the issue on Syria so skewed. If Trump’s new policy is sincere, then it should be celebrated rather than scorned. Why should any American support further involvement in a war that we have no stake in? Has foreign policy become so petty that we support wars purely out of spite? What gain do the American people get from this? It’s a sad state of affairs. We never have money for universal healthcare or higher education, yet we always seem to have money for war and bloodshed.