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Syria Withdrawal Destabilizes Europe, Pleases Putin

Gordon Howie’s resident BS artist Brad Ford has a long history of ideological perversity and senselessness. But this weekend the shadowy Ford actually offers a sensible explanation of Donald Trump’s abrupt withdrawal from Syria. In Ford’s analysis, Trump is doing European fascists a favor:

American intervention in the Middle East and elsewhere overseas has lulled Europeans into an almost suicidal dependency–and on not helping themselves enough. If the US pulled out every soldier tomorrow, ISIS might well regroup (if it’s serious about the caliphate). But it’s almost certain that the European political right would emerge from the shadows. The right is waiting, ready to spring into action once real danger is sensed.

First on the agenda for the European right would be to vote-out/overthrow the socialist welfare governments, then build up the necessary military striking forces to invade countries harboring any ISIS-like threat to the European land mass. Protectorates were, in fact, protective of vulnerable countries [Brad Ford, “Fight Against ISIS Should Shift to Central America,” The Right Side, 2018.12.21].

Ford’s hope to throw Europe into fear and fascism tracks well with Trump’s coddling Europe’s current and aspiring right-wingers:

…There’s Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who’s been busily eroding his country’s democratic institutions, whipping up anti-immigrant sentiment and Islamophobia, closing his border to refugees from war-torn countries, emitting anti-Semitic dog whistles, and posing as the protector of Hungary’s “Christian culture.” He acclaimed Trump’s America First nationalism as a death knell for multilateralism. In turn, Trump and his team have warmed to Orban. This August, Trump’s friend and recently appointed ambassador to Hungary, David Cornstein, gushed that the president admired Orban because the latter was “a very strong leader.” Trump has yet to host Orban at the White House, but the prime minister’s top officials have met with Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Then there’s the Polish government led by that country’s Law and Justice Party (PiS). Its ideology is a kissing cousin’s to Orban’s, so much so that Polish leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has praised the Hungarian prime minister as an ally in resisting the EU’s insistence on democratic governance. No matter: While visiting Poland in July 2017, Trump hailed that PiS-ruled country as a defender of Western values, despite its government’s attacks on the independence of the Polish judiciary and media. This September, one day after the EU referred Poland to the European Court of Justice for politicizing its judicial system, Trump, in a speech to the UN General Assembly, again lauded that country for the way its people were defending “their independence, their security, and their sovereignty.”

Also noteworthy is the mutual admiration between Trump and France’s far-right National Front. In February 2017, its leader, Marine Le Pen, who would later run against Macron for the French presidency, exclaimed: “I have only reason to rejoice in Donald Trump’s actions” and Trump in turn hailed her “as the strongest candidate…strongest on borders…. and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France.” She lost to Macron, but this February, her niece, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen (she later dropped the “Le Pen”), a rising star in the National Front who may become its leader someday, joined President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Nigel Farage in addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference and praised Trump’s America First narrative.

Then there’s Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister and leader of the far-right, immigrant-bashing Northern League. He dreams of a future alliance among Europe’s ultranationalist parties, as does former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. Salvini met Trump in 2016, backed his quest for the presidency, and then released a photograph of both of them smiling in a thumbs-up pose and another of him holding a Trump campaign poster. This September, by then perhaps the most influential member of Italy’s new government, he offered a blanket endorsementof Trump’s policies. Steve Bannon met the Italian leader that month and, while speaking of his plan to form a trans-Europe populist alliance, reported that “we have Salvini on board” [Rajan Menon, “With Help from Trump, Nationalism Could Shatter Europe,” The Nation, 2018.11.19].

Russian President Vladimir Putin likes the prospect of Trump pulling out of Syria. It makes Russia look strong while America looks unreliable:


It plays into Russia’s hand in that Putin has long been seeking to go global. His diplomacy in the Middle East has been impressive. Russian diplomats have been all over the region building relationships and seeking arms contracts. The Middle East is important to Putin partly because in Syria he has bases and port access to the Mediterranean. He has the potential to sell weapons throughout the Middle East, which is important because he doesn’t have many ways to make money except by selling oil. And third, it gives him a status in the world that offsets his inferior conventional power. You have to give him credit for playing a weak hand rather well in Syria.


Here I’m going to sound like the dreaded deep state Trump fantasizes about … but we could use more deep state to combat the chaos at this point. To do it through a tweet and a YouTube announcement, I guarantee you, leaves our coalition partners wondering what the hell is going on. One of the things you hear in the region now is that the U.S. doesn’t stick with its partners or its commitments. Meanwhile, Putin looks like he is sticking up for his ally at whatever cost: He is the reason Assad is surviving [John McLaughlin, “How Trump’s Syria Withdrawal Helps Putin, Hurts Allies,” Ozy, 2018.12.22].

Abandoning NATO allies and helping foment EU-busting right-wing nationalist uprisings plays all the more into Putin’s design. And a world of resurgent fascism and Putin the Hegemon seems to be exactly what Brad Ford and our other right-wing extremists are hoping far. Yikes.


  1. Richard Schriever 2018-12-23 14:35

    A Trump apologist “conservative” fellow I have been engaged in conversation with on FB lately believes that the solution to the immigration problem (at the Southern border at least) is to invade and take over Central America, turning those nations into Puerto Rico-like US territories. He actually refers to the Roman Empire as a model. Make no mistake about it – a “Great” America to these fools is an Imperialist Dictatorship – not a peaceful democracy.

  2. jerry 2018-12-23 16:45

    Mr. Schriever, your conservative fellow failed history. Rome had a great military until it got to the point of needing hired guns to protect it. Tell your friend that Poncho Villa defeated the American forces in Mexico by wearing them out looking for him. Invading Central America would be easy, just like invading Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, Vietnam, Panama, Granada and the list goes on. The problem is to hold it and not need to hire mercenaries to do the job. Sometimes the hired help will decide to take over.

  3. mike from iowa 2018-12-23 17:11

    We could just as well re-invade several of them. They are a mess and we are much of the cause of that mess. We already own it. Now we need to own up to it.

  4. jerry 2018-12-23 18:44

    All fits into the new Ottoman Empire

    “In the past few weeks, a conflict between Ankara and Baghdad over Turkey’s role in the liberation of Mosul has precipitated an alarming burst of Turkish irredentism. On two separate occasions, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the Treaty of Lausanne, which created the borders of modern Turkey, for leaving the country too small. He spoke of the country’s interest in the fate of Turkish minorities living beyond these borders, as well as its historic claims to the Iraqi city of Mosul, near which Turkey has a small military base. And, alongside news of Turkish jets bombing Kurdish forces in Syria and engaging in mock dogfights with Greek planes over the Aegean Sea, Turkey’s pro-government media have shown a newfound interest in a series of imprecise, even crudely drawn, maps of Turkey with new and improved borders.”

    When we step out of the arena, we will see the free for all that will take place. No one remembers 100 years ago, but we should dust off the old history books to see just how that all played out. If you’re interested, you can find out more about this treaty that was the last of World War I

  5. jerry 2018-12-23 18:55

    Darth Vader’s daughter opposes trump on troop withdrawals. What kind of alternate universe are we living in?

    “Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House GOP leadership, called on President Trump to reverse his decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria. She also urged him to reverse his plans to cut the number of troops in Afghanistan.

    “I am deeply, deeply concerned, and I oppose strongly the president’s decision to apparently withdraw troops from Syria,” Cheney said in a “Face the Nation” interview on Sunday. “I think the president has done a lot of very good things,” but “these two decisions would be disastrous.”

  6. Kurt Evans 2018-12-23 19:25

    [Dick Cheney’s daughter, U.S. Representative Liz Cheney] opposes trump on troop withdrawals. What kind of alternate universe are we living in?

    It’s a universe where the wicked Cheneys continue saying the same things they’ve always said, President Trump actually does something right, and many on the political left suddenly embrace the Bush-Cheney neoconservative foreign policy of hyperinterventionism and perpetual war.

  7. Kurt Evans 2018-12-23 19:53

    “John W” posted:

    It doesn’t strike me as surprising or particularly interesting that some at Fox News would continue peddling one-sided pro-war propaganda for the military-industrial complex under these circumstances.

    This was posted in another thread, but here it is for anyone who hasn’t read it:

  8. Kurt Evans 2018-12-23 20:00

    I’d written:

    It doesn’t strike me as surprising or particularly interesting that some at Fox News would continue peddling one-sided pro-war propaganda for the military-industrial complex under these circumstances.

    I see that was actually an Associated Press story, which makes it even less surprising.

  9. grudznick 2018-12-23 20:38

    grudznick wrote then:

    The earth has been proven to be about 3.5 billion years old, and I am nowhere near that old.

    I write today, “Mr. Evans, sir, you would have gotten more votes if you had picked me as your running mate for the Lt. Governor. Mr. Rhoden could not gut-punch me.”

  10. jerry 2018-12-23 21:08

    trump didn’t do anything right Mr. Evans, what he did was an affront to our military men and women who go into harm’s way each day. trump has every right to do as he pleases, but with that right comes responsibility. trump and his republican party have lost all responsibility and we are going broke because of it. Look around, look at the economy and tell me it is stable. Look around the world and see that countries have busted their humps to back the US on these dangerous missions only to now be told that we’re leaving and you’re on your own. Your party needs to develop some responsibility to govern.

  11. Kurt Evans 2018-12-23 21:34

    “jerry” writes:

    trump didn’t do anything right Mr. Evans, what he did was an affront to our military men and women who go into harm’s way each day.

    Look around the world and see that countries have busted their humps to back the US on these dangerous missions only to now be told that we’re leaving and you’re on your own.

    It’s the other way around. Americans are busting our humps in an economy that’s suffocating under the weight of trillions of dollars of profligate military spending to “stabilize” nations on the other side of the planet.

    Your party needs to develop some responsibility to govern.

    What party would you say that is?

  12. grudznick 2018-12-23 21:41

    Mr. Jerry writes:

    Your party needs to develop some responsibility to govern.
    Mr. Evans responds to Mr. Jerry:

    What party would you say that is?

    From reading Mr. Jerry’s message, I would say he means the party Mr. Evans belongs to. That party. Some people, perhaps not privy to the private machinations of Mr. Evans’ mind, would think that means the Libertarian party; the very party that failed to nominate grudznick for Lt. Governor. Those people might be wrong.

  13. Porter Lansing 2018-12-23 21:45

    grudznick is a little too disrespectful to women to help anyone but Evans. Together they’d make an anti-female juggernaut.

  14. grudznick 2018-12-23 21:50

    I love and respect most women, Mr. Lansing. But I would be a great Lt. Governor candidate with Mr. Evans, indeed, juggernauting about everywhere except SDSU where we would be banned as a team, however grudznick could participate and dominate in the Lt. Governor debates against Mr. Rhoden and Mrs. Volesky at the student union.

  15. grudznick 2018-12-23 21:51

    Mr. Rhoden would dare not gut-punch an old fellow like I, especially since I would have a cadre of the Rhoden Rhangers in the crowd egging me on.

  16. Roger Cornelius 2018-12-23 21:57

    Just when did this post become about grudznick?

  17. Kurt Evans 2018-12-23 21:58

    “jerry” had written to me:

    Your party needs to develop some responsibility to govern.

    I’d asked:

    What party would you say that is?

    “grudznick” writes:

    Some people, perhaps not privy to the private machinations of Mr. Evans’ mind, would think [the party Mr. Evans belongs to] means the Libertarian party …

    There are three comments from “jerry” on this post:

    For several regular commenters on this blog, there seems to be an inverse relationship between writing and thinking.

  18. jerry 2018-12-23 22:03

    Mr. Evans, The “dumb party”. Anyone who gives pardon to trump for his irresponsibility regarding the troops and his complete disregard for their safety, is a member of the “dumb party”. Think about that and look in the mirror to see if you really want to sign on to that. Your opponent in the senate race is a card carrying member, don’t you want to differentiate yourself from the dumb party? From here, it looks doubtful that you will do that. So then, you would both be the same, No choice here then, if both the same, always take the incumbent.

  19. grudgenutz 2018-12-24 07:57

    I do not understand why anyone indulges grudznick by responding to her invariably stupid comments. There was a time when the cowardly “grudznick” character was fresh and her comments were mildly amusing. However, one can only go so far with the same tired fake-politeness and yawn-inducing attempts at satire. It has been years since a grudznick comment added anything of value to a comment thread. I am aware that I have just done what I advocate not doing.

  20. mike from iowa 2018-12-24 09:43

    I was taken aback by Grudzilla’s total lack of commentary on Noem’s juggernauts, knowing how infatuated he is with younger women.

  21. jerry 2018-12-24 12:24

    Maybe trump is just high again. That Adderall can make you do some goofy stuff, just listen to him and deny it.

    “The head of U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin Miller, hadn’t been issued orders about the drawdown, according to multiple officers familiar with the matter. Morning intelligence briefings for days had focused on publicly available news stories because no official information was available internally.”

  22. jerry 2018-12-24 14:12

    In Afghanistan now “Gunmen who raided a government building in the Afghan capital killed at least 28 people – mostly government employees – in a seven-hour standoff with security forces that ended on Monday night, Afghan authorities said.

    More than 20 others were wounded in the latest bloody violence to strike Kabul.

    Others killed included a policeman and three of the attackers who were shot dead by Afghan security forces, Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said.”

    When we leave, how many days before the next huge attack on the US? Don’t forget the reason we have been there. Last time we took Afghanistan for granted, we lost well over 3,000 Americans along with buildings and airplanes. Until we figure how to include the Muslims into our conversations without hate, we need to stay vigilant with boots on the ground. Stop the hate and you stop the threat. Can our addled president and his accomplices do that? The only way is to show him something they can steal from, then it is possible.

  23. jerry 2018-12-25 09:18

    Pretty much proves trump sold out the military for an undisclosed amount of riches.

    Jim Sciutto

    New: In weeks before the Syria decision, national security adviser John Bolton instructed senior officials to meet directly with coalition partners and assure them the US is “staying in Syria until Iran is out of Syria,” two sources tell CNN. 1/

    3:18 PM – Dec 24, 2018
    Twitter Ads info and privacy
    1,673 people are talking about this
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    2/Syria withdrawal was “a complete reversal,” done “without deliberation” and “no consideration of risks.” Allies and partners are “shocked and totally bewildered”, Syrian Democratic Forces “don’t believe this is happening,” a senior administration official familiar tells me.
    3/Decision comes at critical time in fight against ISIS, with US military & partners “in a Tora Bora situation” in N. Syria with ISIS cornered. US has reason to believe ISIS leader al-Baghdadi & senior cmdrs could be trapped in “a little pocket,” based in part on vigorous defense
    4/Contradicting President Trump, the Senior Admin Official warns “Russia loves this,” referring to the US withdrawal, and continues to send a message to partners that “if Americans are your friends, they’ll abandon you”
    5/More broadly, this official says the national security decision-making process in the administration has “basically stopped working…with decisions made on a whim on phone calls””

    So how much is the betrayal worth? Benedict Arnold got promised a commission and a large sum of money. Benedict trump will get what for his acts of betrayal? Maybe a nice villa with a view of the Volga?

  24. jerry 2018-12-25 12:02

    “Turkey on Tuesday warned France against protecting a US-backed Kurdish militia in Syria and said Ankara’s military was strong enough to defeat ISIS on its own after American troops pull out.

    US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw all 2,000 ground forces from Syria has stunned most allies, including France, but was applauded by the Turkish government.”

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