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Republicans Storm Closed-Room No-Rules Lynching, Demanding Due Process In Fake Impeachment | Main | Dick's Sporting Goods Owner Ed Stack Commissions Focus Group to Determine His Viability as a Third-Party Presidential Candidate
October 23, 2019

Trump Announces "Permanent" Ceasefire Agreement Between Turks and Kurds Along Syrian Border;
Kurdish Leader Says Ceasefire Wouldn't Have Been Possible Without Trump

He also lifted the sanctions imposed on Turkey, but could revive them if Turkey violates the terms of the agreement.

The US is lifting sanctions on Turkey after its recent offensive against Kurdish fighters in north-eastern Syria, President Donald Trump says.

His decision came after Russia agreed with Turkey to use troops to extend a ceasefire along the Syrian border.

Turkey's offensive began after Mr Trump's unexpected decision to withdraw US troops from northern Syria earlier this month.

"Let someone else fight over this long bloodstained sand," the president said.

"The sanctions will be lifted unless something happens that we're not happy with," he announced in a statement at the White House on Wednesday.

He said Turkey had assured him that it would halt fighting in the region and would make the recently agreed ceasefire permanent.

The US Treasury later confirmed that sanctions, imposed on 14 October, had been lifted on the Turkish ministries of defence and energy, as well as three of the country's senior officials.


He said on Wednesday he would keep a "small number" of troops in parts of the country to protect oil installations.

He also urged Turkey to commit to securing IS militants, and make sure the jihadist group did not regain any Syrian territory.

According to President Trump, it was US diplomacy alone that halted the Turkish military operations in Syria and instituted a lasting deal to save Kurdish lives.

Is everything fixed, then?

Let me answer that with a question: Is anything ever fixed?

When I was younger and less experienced -- and had seen less war -- I was a big believer in the Rumsfeld Doctrine, "if the problem seems unsolvable, enlarge it," that is, don't chew about the edges if chewing about the edges doesn't solve things, but go for the whole sandwich if need be.

I also believed the empty Neocon slogans about appeasement and Hitler and Clinton "just kicking the can down the road" in Iraq.

The empty sloganeering went like this: If we don't permanently solve our diplomatic/military crises once and for ever, then we're just "kicking the can down the road" and deferring problems until later.

But watching the Iraq and Afghanistan (and Libya and Syria) fiascoes, I've now come to understand a few things:

First, it is extraordinarily difficult to "solve" massive societal problems in foreign fucking countries. The cancer in Middle East states goes right down to the bone.

We haven't managed to rid America of the Communist Delusion after one hundred years. And we think we're going to cure Islam of Islamism?

It may be simply impossible to "fix" such things, and even if it is theoretically possible, it might take far more wasted men, severed limbs, and pallet-fulls of money than we are willing to spend.

Second, Americans are a bit mercurial in matters of war: They are occasionally keen on it, but quickly tire of it.

We have now had a pretty firm trial run of how many years of war America is willing to tolerate, even if offered terrific provocation (such as 9/11). The answer turns out to be "three to four years, maybe."

Hell, even the liberal wing of the War Party -- the Neocon NeverTrumpers -- began calling anyone who proposed additional screening for Muslim travelers an anti-American racist within three years of 9/11.

Which brings me to the third point: Wars must be sharply limited in goals, with clearly defined victory conditions and a firm exit strategy, and must not be permitted to endlessly mutate new goals and thus new end-points.

And we must not "nation build."

We all used to agree to this before the Iraq business.

America will have to fight wars in the future but they must be limited in ambition and duration. No more of Bush-like vague "we stay until we stabilize the situation and promote democracy" non-exit strategies.

What the fuck does "stabilize the situation" mean? What is the metric? What is the victory condition there?

Is anything ever really stable?

Is the United States currently fully stable?

Future wars must have clear and limited-jurisdicaiton goals more like: "We take out these sites, bomb these government buildings, reduce their air force and tank forces to near zero and then stop."

That sure went out the window fast, eh?

Also quickly unlearned during the Neocon-crazy Bush years: The old lesson, which as been beaten into American skulls time and time again, but gets forgotten every ten years, that a war must not have an ever-changing goal and always-shifting rational -- that is, a war must have a firmly stated and limited ambition and we must not constantly adjust this ambition to go out to slay new and exciting dragons.

We must not make open-ended commitments with TBD war aims.

And specifically, that forbids any more nation-building, a practice which is inherently an open-ended commitment with TBD war aims.

Throughout Clinton's terms, conservatives -- including almost all NeverTrumpers -- cursed Clinton's "nation-building" efforts in tiny little efforts like Haiti.

Well, we had about 100 casualties in Haiti. What were we doing in Iraq but nation-building for fifteen years? That was nation-building on steroids.

And it had the American bodycount to match.

I thought NeverTrumpers were all about "consistency of principle."

What happened to the principle that the American forces did not engage in nation-building or serving as domestic police in foreign countries' civil/social wars?

Finally, I now understand that very few problems in history have been solved by war. You can name a few -- World War Two definitely changed Germany and Europe forever, and Japan as well.

But in the case of Germany and Japan, we were so committed to total and unconditional victory that we were willing to drop nuclear bombs on population centers until the enemy surrendered without condition.

The nuclear bombs were intended for Germany, but Germany collapsed before they were perfected.

So on to the Pacific target.

Without that level of ruthless determination -- literally ruthless; willing to sacrifice everything to the cause -- to so terrify a society as to compel it to change itself to please us -- and does anyone think America still has that level of ruthlessness? Hell, it was a scandal to even suggest nuclear bombs against Al Qaeda -- we will never again have a war that "solves everything forever."

Every war will just be kicking the can down the road. Some cans will be kicked farther than others, but without the ability and ruthlessness to threaten to simply wipe a people off the globe if they do not internally "fix" the national psychology that we find threatening or offensive, old enemies will always be back.

And this is how it's been throughout history. The Neocon adventurists are always pointing at Germany and Japan as the positive cases for Totalizing Transformational Warfare -- without every noticing that World War II was a major exception to the historical rule that every war fought will be re-fought in 10-40 years.

How many wars in history, besides the War in Europe and the War in the Pacific, were ended, "once and for all," by Totalizing Transformational Warfare?

The First Punic War -- nope. The name gives it away. The Second Punic War, again, not so much.

The Third Punic War -- yes, but it took three tries.

How many other cases of "they fought a war and never had another problem from that foe again" can you think of?

So, Carthage, Tokyo, Berlin.... and... the list gets pretty thin after those.

I no longer consider "kicking the can down the road" to be some kind of failure. In fact, I would put it forth that Successful diplomatic and military leadership consists almost entirely of delaying problems, not "solving them."

This is how it has almost always been done.

And it is a mistake to think that the few exceptions of "solving a problem forever" are the right cases to go to for lessons.

For lessons, we should look for periods of time in which leaders never "solved problems once and forever more," but just kept kicking them down the road, again and again, until, without anyone noticing, they'd gone a very long time without actual warfare.

Germany (and Japan) were exceptional cases against "appeasement." Germany had announced its brazen plan to conquer Europe, and began embarking upon that plan country-by-country.

But when Germany announced this plan, and even when it took its first steps towards executing it, it was extremely and artificially weak due to post-Great-War disarmament.

Thus, in the case of Germany, there was a very strong argument to be made that we would have to fight the Mad Tyrant Hitler at some point, and he was as weak now as he'd ever be, and fighting him later in time would be fighting him greater in strength.

But that's a fairly uncommon situation.

And one single solitary incidence does not make a Rule.

In the case of Turkey -- do the Neocons want to go to war with Turkey? They're a bit canny and evasive on the question -- does anyone think that Turkey is artificially, temporarily weak right now and so we must have a war now rather than later?

Or Russia? Is there any particular set of circumstances which makes fighting Russia this year less costly than fighting it in ten years?

One could actually make this case with Iran... but few do.

The one country where the "We must fight Hitler when he's weak before we wind up fighting him when he's strong" argument actually makes sense, and almost no one is making it. Even the war-hawks shy away from it.

Because they know war is unpopular too.

And so they just passive-aggressively suggest war without committing themselves honestly to advocating for it.

Or, perhaps, they're doing what they previously did with Iraq: Advocating for what they believe will be less costly wars in order to deter Iran, who we dare not go to war with.

That didn't work in Iraq. Iraq was extremely costly and Iran used the circumstance of our being tied down in Iraq to advance themselves. They engaged in (almost) open warfare with US troops, without any real reprisals.

So this idea, if it still exists, that we will fight all these proxy wars so that we will win a proxy war with Iran instead of engaging it in a real war?

It's absurd. It's already been tried and it already failed.

Shall we keep on doing it, then?

I think I'd rather just eat the whole sandwich and invade Iran.

Anyway, these are some of the things I've learned watching what I thought would be a great and lasting triumph in Iraq (and Afghanistan) turn into the same nation-building, peace-keeping, internal-policing slaughterhouses for American boys I always thought conservatives were supposed to be against.

But I guess some True Conservatives who defend Eternal Sacred Principles to the end don't mind adjusting those Eternal Sacred Principles as political expediency may require.

I have said before, and I still feel, that I am as uncomfortable with Trump's policy of withdrawal, disengagement, and even appeasement as I was with Obama's and Kerry's.

I do not think his instincts on this -- Peace at any cost -- are prudent.

But I'm astonished that supposed "Adult in the Room" voices have not spent a single second re-examining their "War Fixes Everything and Is Great for National Prestige" instincts.

They still sing from the same hymnals, not a single phrase changed.

Well, one thing is changed: they argue for war in a more dishonest, cowardly, passive-aggressive "I'm not saying war is the only answer but anyone who denies that war is the only answer is a traitor and RUSSIAN ASSET" way.

I am chastened and unsure. I am ambivalent and reformulating.

Are any of the Neocon NeverTrumpers simiilarly grappling with their own claims and beliefs and the recent real-world historical record?

Or are they just taking whatever position is politically expedient to put them on the opposite side of Trump?

Are they playing political games in matters of war and death?

I think so. I really have not seen a single one of these supposed Adults in the Room and Serious Men and Expert Commentators grapple for a single second about why they were previously wrong.

Update: Old Enemies Literally Never Die. Oldcat writes:

The Romans eventually rebuilt Carthage, and in the 430 AD timeframe it was taken by the Vandals. In a couple decades their shipborne troops sacked Rome.

Even the third war didn't finish the danger from that city.

Some video of Trump's speech below, as well as a tweet from a Kurdish commander thanking Trump.

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