The Mare of Anti-Trumpville Hacks gets on her haunches about Trump (again)

(WSJ is ‘behind pay wall’…columns can usually be found elsewhere)

Ms Peggy reacts to Trump keeping a campaign promise

Actually, Peggy Noonan’s column this Saturday is rather unexceptional for her. It is a piece, typically for Ms. Noonan, critical of President Trump…highly critical, but this time specifically about his decision to pull out of the Kurdish ares of Syria.

While many of us Trump supporters may have mixed emotions about the wisdom of this decision by the President (I do), it has not seriously diminished my view of his overall performance as Chief Executive, and as a far better and more consequential president than , at least, our nation’s 3 preceding presidents. (Most certainly there is no one in the Democratic ‘Clown Show’ that I would want to see anywhere near authority for USA domestic or foreign policy. Peggy, herself, would seem to, from the beginning, have preferred Hillary!)

Ms. Noonan is a smug, self-absorbed columnist whose sell-by date expired some time ago. Most everything she writes is from the perspective of her own self-perceived “greatness”. She didn’t like G W Bush (because he didn’t fully appreciate her wisdom and how she was so responsible for Reagan’s successes). She did really, really like President Obama (but Peggy is from the “Kathleen Parker School of Journalistic Success”…that is, “pose as a ‘conservative’ but write and speak most favorably of liberalism and liberal Democrats”).

This column does fairly accurately portray the misgivings by many Republicans, conservatives, and military leaders, past and present about Trump’s decision to, in the view of many, “abandon the Kurds, America’s staunch ally in the fight against ISIS”.

Peggy, of course, frames it in terms most negative toward Mr. Trump and his supporters. She goes further to seem to suggest, that Trump really hasn’t been good for America, in any way, throughout his presidency.    DLH

Trump’s Reckless Rush to Withdraw   (our annotations are set apart)

The Syria pullout boosts the impression that he’s all impulse, blithely operating out of his depth.

“Foreign-policy decisions in this administration look like the ball in a pinball machine in some garish arcade with flashing lights and some frantic guy pushing the levers ping ping ping and thinking he’s winning.”

One thing I think I’ve correctly observed about the U.S. military in the 21st century is that its leaders tend to be the last to want to go to war and the last to want to leave it. Political figures operate under public pressures and shifting geopolitical needs and goals; they’re surrounded by people who see the world a certain way; they get revved up, and say, “Go, invade.” Top military staff have reservations. They’ve studied the area, know the realities, the history—they have doctorates in it—and don’t want to get into anything America can’t win cleanly, decisively, relatively quickly. They’re skeptics.

In the end the commander in chief makes the decision and they do their constitutional duty. Troops are deployed and perform. They dig in and fight, they’re professionals—they commit.

ything America can’t win cleanly, decisively, relatively quickly. They’re skeptics.
In the end the commander in chief makes the decision and they do their constitutional duty. Troops are deployed and perform. They dig in and fight, they’re professionals—they commit.

The political figures then decide after a few years—or decades—that it’s time to come home. Military leaders are skeptical again. They’ve been in this thing a while, they’re committed to the battle space, they’ve lost men, they know and care about their allies in the fight, they have a sharp sense of the repercussions of withdrawal. They want more time.

I suspect the current habit of skepticism springs in part from the military’s generations-long reckoning with Vietnam. You can see it in Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster’s influential 1997 book, “Dereliction of Duty.” “The war in Vietnam was not lost in the field, nor was it lost on the front pages of the New York Times,” Donald Trump’s second national security adviser writes. “It was lost in Washington, D.C.” Responsibility for the failure rested not only with President Lyndon B. Johnson and his civilian advisers but also his military advisers, particularly the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Between the lines Gen. McMaster was telling the current military: Don’t claim to see lights at the ends of tunnels when you don’t really see them, play it straight. Be forthcoming with political leaders—and the public—about “likely costs and consequences.”

Anyway, history is human. Military leaders have their ways and biases. But public military opposition to the president’s withdrawal of U.S. forces from northern Syria, after a Sunday telephone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seems to me completely correct. Gen. John Allen, a retired Marine, said, “If we were going to draw a circle around a group of American troops who are more important right now to the stabilization of any place on the planet, it’s that thousand troops.” He said of Turkey’s incursion into Syria, “This is just chaos.” Retired Adm. James Stavridis said it will lead to the comeback of ISIS and embolden other U.S. adversaries. He noted that it’s some kind of policy that can unite, in opposition, Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bernie Sanders.

It is.

More compelling is what Jennifer Griffin, the respected national-security correspondent for Fox News, reported Wednesday night. She spoke to a “distraught” U.S. Special Forces soldier on the ground alongside the Kurdish forces that were about to be abandoned. “It was one of the hardest phone calls I have ever taken,” she tweeted. The soldier told her “I am ashamed for the first time in my career.” He said, “There was no threat to the Turks—none—from this side of the border.” The Kurds, who are guarding thousands of ISIS prisoners, had just prevented a prison break and were pleading for U.S. support. Without it, the soldier said, those detainees would likely soon be free. Of the president: “He doesn’t understand the problem. He doesn’t understand the repercussions to this.” “It’s a shame,” he added. “The Kurds are standing by us. No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us.”
I believe every word of this.

Why this decision? Why now?

To redeem a campaign pledge with another campaign looming? On impulse? What was behind the impulse? The president doesn’t seem to know much about the Kurds—that they’ve backed the U.S. since 2003 and fought ISIS since 2011. They have their reasons: They want their own state. But they are a gallant people, brave and sympathetic to the West.

Ms Peggy is the ignorant one on “the Kurds”

The president, defending this decision, asked what we owe them. “They didn’t help us in the Second World War, at Normandy for example.”

Yes, I forgot. Reagan made that point in his Pointe du Hoc speech. He said, “Don’t forget to stick it to the Kurds for not showing up.” Oh wait, he didn’t say that, because he was quite the reader of history.

Mr. Trump, in defending his position, says he is against the “endless wars” that have marked the first two decades of this century. Fair and good, the right approach, he ran for president opposing them and Americans left and right agreed.

But there is too much craziness to the decision, both its substance and how it was made. The area has been functioning, the number of U.S. troops small and limited. Adm. Stavridis called it “a small investment with a big spring to it.”

He played your game for three years Ms Peggy and where is the convincing case that this would not be endless given the regions continued chaos? And as to the size of the detachment, bringing it up collapses your point. The usual suspects in the press, including your ladyship, have dramatized the pull-out of a small contingent that was indeed a big spring which is what his policy promise does not want.

The decision was done on the word of Mr. Erdogan, a particular kind of player—thuggish, duplicitous. He considers the Kurds on his border a security threat. He threatens to send Syrian refugees to Europe if European countries call his incursion an occupation. If they insult him like that, “We will open the gates and send 3.6 million refugees your way.”

Mr. Trump himself says if the ISIS terrorists the Kurds are holding in prison are freed or escape, no worry. “They’re going to be escaping to Europe,” he said. “They want to go back to their homes.”

That’s a viciously careless way to treat your allies. Who, by the way, were at Normandy.

The above sentence is quite an absurd statement — Our allies have allowed  festering ISIS cesspools by their own degeneracy, allowing Muslims to overwhelm their  culture. “Our allies” are not the allies of Normandy or the ones she must be talking about.  The Italians, the French (with a minority exception) the Germans to say the least were not our allies at Normandy. Their composure has also changed since the Cold War.

Most unsettling was the president’s mad tweet assuring critics that his decision was right: “If Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).” This isn’t funny, it’s self-inflated nut stuff.

The president is misreading his base, which will have qualms. Their sons and daughters fought in the wars; they know who the Kurds are.

The above is another ill-informed statement by Ms Peggy

Why would he do such a dramatic, piercing thing at what is for him a dramatic, piercing moment, with impeachment looming and support for it rising in the polls? Why offend Republicans senators, whom the president needs to survive impeachment? Why give them an excuse to start peeling off?

Why give those of his supporters who are cable-news hacks an excuse to show some pride? I’m not a lackey, this is about principle, the president has made a misjudgment! Watch it, they could get in the habit of self-respect.

— “hacks” my my, such coming from the ever-so predictable Ms Peggy. Anti-Trump hack comes to mind, so does shrill.

The Syria decision contributes to the hardened impression that in foreign policy he’s all impulse, blithely operating out of his depth. It adds to the hardening suspicion that in negotiations he’s not actually tough; he’ll say yes to a lot of things, and some very bad things, to get the deal, the photo-op, the triumphant handshake.

Foreign-policy decisions in this administration look like the ball in a pinball machine in some garish arcade with flashing lights and some frantic guy pushing the levers ping ping ping and thinking he’s winning.

Plenty of commentary to counter Ms Peggy tomorrow – There are Kurds and then there are Kurds.  Annotations in red by R Mall

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