Back in the day, we called this mission creep.  It was that break-point during a deployment where you knew visits to the latest “garden spot,” were no longer going to be temporary or irregular.  Time to set up a chow hall, request workout equipment, and hope Washington DC will hire KBR—that den of thieves responsible for feeding, housing and, occasionally, entertaining, American military personnel sent to foreign lands for the sole purpose of making the natives uncomfortable.

Such is now the case in Syria.  Last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced our boys on the ground in northern Syria would not be coming home anytime soon.  Given Tillerson’s role at Exxon…the CEO…he should know something about making a presence become permanent.  How the hell else do you ensure oil coming out of the ground enriches the right pockets.

Can’t trust the locals to guarantee American profits, same thing is true when it comes to politics.  If Washington wants to make sure foreigners behave in a preferred manner, the boys and girls dressed in camouflage don’t go home and exchange a uniform for mufti.  They stay, armed, and then start rotating between the US of A and whatever destination our wonderous elected officials have decided is the next place they are going to civilize.

Like, oh, say, Guantanamo—since 1903—that’s 115 years.  Then there’s Germany, Italy or Japan.  1945 to present makes for 73 years.  And don’t forget Korea.  Been there for 68 years come June 2018.   By comparison, Afghanistan—16 years and counting—or Iraq—racing up on 14 years of dust-filled excitement—are mere babes in the woods.

Now we have Tillerson adding Syria to the list.  Washington first started pushing American military forces into Syria back in November 2015.  Boots on ground we had already been blasting from the air for over a year.  All in the name of defeating the Islamic State…with a secondary thought about how to dispense with Bashar Assad.   You remember him, the flailing president of a failed state.

Well, ISIS is gone…at least from Syria…and the Turks are pissed with the Kurds—who we helped arm and train—so Erdogan has opted to launch his own campaign.  Think of it as the Ottoman Empire redux.  Because, god forbid, Kurds have the audacity to follow the Armenian lead and demand their own homeland.  On a forsaken bit of this planet that the Syrians had already abandoned…why do you think al-Baghdadi and his jihadi warriors succeeded in seizing so much territory in such a short time?  Almost no one lives in that arid, resource deprived, wasteland.  The Kurds want it?  Let them have it.  Someone call Ankara and tell them “game over.”

Apparently “the Donald” tried that ploy…no success…I’m sending my copy of Art of the Deal back to Amazon for a refund.  The author is an obvious fraud.

Meanwhile, Uncle Sam’s finest need to start building outposts.  In Syria.  Can’t live in a tent forever.  See my previous comment on KBR—from my experience, they have a great recipe for brisket…skip the scrambled eggs, unless you have access to a lot of ketchup.

We could have solved this whole problem back in 2004, after we kicked Saddam’s ass. That assorted U.S. military force already in the desert should have taken a hard-left turn and overrun Syria…just think of the lives that would have been spared had we toppled Assad immediately after removing Saddam.  Oh, the potential for disaster was certainly resident, but we couldn’t have screwed up in Syria any worse than we did in Iraq.  Might as well commit all your fuckups at once.

Just think of it, a march to the sea—just like Sherman—but instead of heading east you turn west.  There’s a maneuver that might have done George Bush the Second proud.  But, no, he mired us in Iraq…and now we will be engaged in a La Brea Tar Pits called Syria.  The La Brea Tar Pits swallowed whole mammoths.  Just like Syria will eventually consume the US military—or at least that remaining element of the American armed forces not directed to occupy Afghanistan, Bahrain, Cuba, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kosovo, Qatar, and South Korea.

Leaves me to wonder how many troops will be left once we set about “civilizing” North Korea.


Eric C. Anderson

29 January 2018