Say what you want about nation-building; its results pale next to the can-do of American fighting men.
In a lightning raid preceded by aerial bombardments themselves preceded by months of intelligence gathering and surveillance, American soldiers located a leading Arab terrorist and took him off the board. Root causes may have a role in crime, but it is simpler to whack the plant.
Democracy missionaries are always welcome at League of Women Voters luncheons, but urgently needed in the war-torn region on the border between Syria and Turkey are tall, fit, agile, superbly trained young men jumping out of helicopters. Here they arrived with machine guns blazing and wiped out the Stalino-fascist-Islamist gangsters holed up in a safe house and blasted them to oblivion.
That was purely imaginary about helicopters and machine guns, as TAS was not embedded in the operation, reportedly carried out on the weekend by a U.S. Army Special Forces including Delta Forces. The target was a long-sought leader of the Islamic caliphate in Mesopotamia. Called Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (“the man from Baghdad who is the father of Bak-oh”), the fellow was right up there in the quality of his character with Pol Pot and Hitler, and was generally considered the successor to Osama bin Laden.
The major difference between the two haters is that the scion of a rich Saudi Arabian family believed in a network of cells that would preach and spread mayhem (this may be redundant) around the world, viz. the attacks on New York and Washington; whereas the child of a poor Iraqi family got the idea of seizing and holding actual real territory, on which to base a “caliphate,” or model Islamic state. This led to mass murder of recalcitrant Christians, other Sunni Muslims, Shia, Jews, Yazidis (a monotheistic faith followed by certain tribal groups in Iraq and Syria), and Western hostages. The Baghdadi in question is known to have been a serial rapist, including among his victims an American aid worker, Kaylia Mueller. taken as hostage and eventually murdered, probably in 2015.
Some reports said he had taken over the political crime organization from one Abu Omar al-Baghdadi (“the man from Baghdad who is the father of Omar”), himself killed in a U.S.–Iraq operation some years ago.
It begins to sound as if what might have made more sense, when our policy makers got the idea that the Saddam Hussein regime was up to no good, to require every male from Baghdad to attend a three-week crash course in anger management, instead of trying to fix the whole country.
There were and are sound strategic reasons to refrain from this tactic, though it deserves careful consideration, not least for the message it would send to other political organizations masquerading as governments.
However, it is worth noting that the men — and women — responsible for this gallant operation were aided by our on-and-for-the-moment-off Kurdish allies. Intelligence, backup, terrain recon, and much besides, including ordinary communications with the locals, for which we need friendlies: all of these go into fighting and winning in hostile territories. It was so in the Indian wars; it is so in the Arab wars.
Idlib province is to the west of Aleppo and is thus some distance from the Turko-Syrian border region between Qamishli and Kobane that has been causing some mental hyperventilation amongst the Washington, D.C., foreign policy eggheads. This is the real estate that President D. J. Trump — against the advice of Gen. James Mattis and others — announced he was pulling U.S. forces out of from their positions among our gallant Kurdish allies, enabling the (elected) Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to move in and hunt down Kurds and kill them, under the pretext that they are all terrorists.
Kurds inside Turkey have waged terrorist campaigns, suffering ferocious countermeasures by Turkish security forces. Thousands have died among terrorists and policemen and civilians caught in between or suspected of sympathies in one or the other direction.
Basically, Turks and Kurds, though living in proximity for centuries, hate each other. Or maybe their political leaders are rivals for power, while Kurdish girls and Turkish boys fall in love, as normal people do. The simple obvious solution is to create an Anatolian federal republic with substantial powers vested in the member states, but this is not a democracy class or a nation-building project, and if these swarthy peoples cannot hack it, it is their tough luck and we have to say sorry guys, sayonara.
Turkey is a NATO ally of the U.S. Some of our best friends at TAS, such as Mr. Doug Bandow, who writes on libertarian themes (full disclosure: I own a t-shirt that says, “If the government says you don’t need a gun, then you need a gun”) and little Hungary’s heroic fight for freedom, believe Turkey should be kicked out of NATO, in view of its hostility to our way of life, as well as Israeli lives. Plus it seems to be functioning as a cat’s paw for Russia, against whom NATO was devised back in the distant day.
Mr. Joe Harriss, our Paris correspondent, when not writing on fancy French food, reports that the unstinting redesign of NATO headquarters in Brussels, complete with A/C and rec center, is one of the biggest wastes of money you ever saw, and that includes the Department of Education. Mr. Angelo Codevilla, author of The Ruling Class, available on our website, thinks NATO should be kicked out of NATO.
I dissent, but this is not about me. The point is this, rather. The Kurds helped us roll back ISIS. They continue to, if these battlefield reports are confirmed. They are the one success story of our entire Arab campaign, starting with the liberation of the petro-chemical-pederast complex known as Kuwait in 1991. Mr. Lee Smith, formerly a correspondent for the lamented Weekly Standard magazine and now with the Hudson Institute, dissents too, but for reasons so complicated and convoluted I cannot do them justice.
Mr. Smith thinks the Kurds are terrorists and that the only thing preventing the Persian mullacracy from becoming the hegemon of the Middle East is the Turkish army. It is an argument worth pondering, because it reveals much about the psycho-sociology of Washington eggheads. These are, after all, Americans, and we care for their wellbeing and mental health.
The U.S. forces who were pulled out of northeastern Syria, leaving the Kurds vulnerable to serial murder by the Turks’ Arabo-Islamist auxiliaries, are the same as the ones who killed the bad man of Baghdad, or caused him to commit suicide. Maybe not man for man — but they are American fighting men.
It should not surprise if at least one Washington egghead, in or out of an official position, gets the impression a light bulb is going on in his head and says, Why did we not think of this before? Whereupon 10,000 other Washington eggheads will be upon him saying, Are you nuts? What would we do without a mission?
Keep in mind, however, that to do what those men did, we need allies or at least friendlies.