Syria: Are We In, Or Out?

What in the name of all that’s holy is going on in Syria, where the US has indicated it intends to keep US troops indefinitely – or maybe not. Here’s one report:

“On February 11, Secretary of Defense James Mattis stressed that, following the group’s defeat, there is no plan for a deeper U.S. commitment in Syria. Several weeks later on February 23, President Donald Trump echoed Mattis’s message, saying that the 1,700 to 2,000 US troops in the country would ‘go home’ after isis had been beaten.”

And here’s another:

“In a pair of letters issued within the last month, Pentagon and State Department officials indicated that the Trump administration envisions US soldiers remaining on the ground in Syria and Iraq indefinitely, even once Islamic State militants have been defeated, and does not believe it requires additional permission from Congress to do so.”

So which is it?

The destruction of Syria – which was carried out by the rebel-supporting Obama administration and the Gulf states – has turned that blood-soaked land into the Balkans of the Middle East. I mean that in the pre-World War I sense – the country is a tinderbox of warring factions and their foreign sponsors waiting to explode into a much wider conflict.

Let’s take a look at the actors on the Syrian stage: the US, the Kurds, the Turks, the Turkish-backed Islamist rebels, the Israelis, the Russians, the Syrian government forces, Hezbollah, and Iran. The Turks have launched an all­-out invasion of Syria, aiming their blows against the Kurds, whom they fear and loathe, and in support of the head-chopping Islamist “rebels” formerly supported by the US – now ditched in favor of the Kurds. The Kurds, for their part, are chiefly responsible for ridding the region of ISIS, and are being heavily backed by the US. So what we have here is undeclared war between two NATO “allies”: the US and Turkey.

There haven’t been any direct US-Turkish confrontations – as yet – but there has been an incident involving Russian mercenaries and the Kurds, with the former supposedly attacking a Kurdish position and getting wiped out by US war planes called in by the Kurds. Reports of Russian casualties range from “dozens” to “hundreds.”

This whole incident seems odd, since the Russians and the Syrian government have generally come to the aid of the Kurds in their fight against Turkish-backed Islamists, and, now, the Turkish military. But anything can happen in the “fog of war,” and this underscores the danger of our involvement.

The rebel Islamist propaganda machine is working overtime to convince the West that the Syrian government and the Russians are committing “genocide” in eastern Ghouta, where the Islamists have their last stronghold. Yes, the War Party is up in arms about this once again, claiming that “chemical weapons” are being used by the Syrian government – a mantra we’ve heard for years and for which no real evidence has ever been produced. Instead, what we’ve seen is a series of crude hoaxes designed to lure the US and its allies into intervening on the side of the rebels, i.e., the side that includes al-Qaeda, and similar groups.

First it was Aleppo, now it’s Ghouta. What will it be tomorrow? What we know for sure is that it’ll be yet another phony “humanitarian emergency” supposedly requiring US military intervention – on behalf of Islamists.

This game is getting awfully tired, and yet the US and British media keep playing it. This is due to the influence of two of the most powerful foreign lobbyists: the Saudis and the Israel lobby. Israel has seemingly dropped the Kurds and taken up with the Islamists as the best bet to accomplish their longtime goal of overthrowing Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad. The Kurds, after all, have limited goals: a Kurdish homeland in northeastern Syria. This won’t satisfy the Israelis: they want to keep Syria in chaos, and what better way to accomplish this goal than to hand Syria to the Islamists?

So what is our policy in Syria? There isn’t one, at least not yet: instead, we are simply reacting – not just to events on the ground but to domestic political pressures generated by numerous foreign lobbyists.

The Saudi, Turkish, and Israeli lobbies are pushing for a renewal of the old Obama administration policy of supporting the Islamist rebels. The Pentagon, which worked with the Kurds to crush ISIS, feels obligated to stick with the Kurdish “People’s Protection Units” (YPG). And then there are those like Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who wonder what the heck we’re doing there in the first place and want us to get out.

The question that needs to be asked is: how does US intervention in Syria benefit the people of the United States? The foreign lobbyists who want us to align with one faction or another would rather not answer this inquiry, because the answer is: not one whit. Our past support for the Islamist rebels was a criminal act, one that actively aided people who want to kill us. Even if we did penance for a thousand years, that would still not be enough to earn us forgiveness. The least we can do is to stop intervening and leave the Syrian people to work out their own destiny.

A SPECIAL NOTE: Yes, we’re still fundraising and we have our matching funds: a group of donors has gotten together and pledged $30,000. Ah, but there’s a catch — we have to match that amount in smaller donations.

So now it’s up to you. The American people are sick and tired of foreign wars: our message of peace and non-intervention has never been more popular. Yet the political class resists the popular will – and the War Party is more determined than ever to lead us down the road to perpetual conflict. We need your support at this crucial juncture: we can win the battle for peace, the opportunity is there — but we can’t do it without you. That means we need your tax-deductible donations now – because they’ll have double the impact with our matching funds program.

If we all get together and make that final push we can make our goal. Every donation counts, no matter the amount. Please make your tax-deductible contribution today.


You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].