Yesterday, I posted about our truly frightening Secretary of State, and the infusion of fundamentalist religious doctrine into America’s foreign policy. But our international challenges–which are mounting as quickly as our global influence is declining–are not limited to the results of Pompeo’s zealotry.
That’s because, in foreign affairs, the President has the last word. And when delicate and complex international issues are being decided by an erratic buffoon who is monumentally ignorant of world affairs and the way governments function, America’s interests can take quite a beating.
Just this week, Business Insider–a “non-lefty” publication that has been admirable in its coverage of the disaster that is the Trump Presidency–devoted considerable space to a scathing Penagon report that places the blame for the resurgence of ISIS squarely on Trump.
A report from the Pentagon inspector general found that President Donald Trump’s decision to rapidly pull troops out of Syria and divert attention from diplomacy in Iraq has inadvertently aided the Islamic State’s regrouping in Syria and Iraq.
The Department of Defense’s quarterly report to Congress on the effectiveness of the US Operation Inherent Resolve mission said that “ISIS continued its transition from a territory-holding force to an insurgency in Syria, and it intensified its insurgency in Iraq” — even though Trump said ISIS was defeated and the caliphate quashed, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Many officials and experts have repeatedly warned that a rapid US withdrawal from Syria would enable ISIS to regroup into an insurgency after their battlefield defeats by the US-led coalition.
The IG’s report also explicitly said the troop drawdown in Syria, which Trump announced at the end of last year, contributed to instability in the region. The drawdown, which prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, left the US’s Syrian partners in the lurch, without the training or support they needed to confront a resurgent ISIS. In Iraq, the Iraqi security forces lack the necessary infrastructure to fight off ISIS for sustained periods.
Trump was warned that his focus on Iran–one of his numerous efforts to reverse agreements entered into or regulations passed by Obama, no matter their reasonableness or value– would erode U.S. capacity to counter ISIS in Iraq and Syria, according to Brett McGurk, the former special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS. McGurk served under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
McGurk, like Mattis, resigned his post after Trump announced his drawdown. In a January op-ed, he warned that Trump’s policies in the region would give “new life” to ISIS and other US adversaries, and that the decision would “precipitate chaos and an environment for extremists to thrive,”exactly what the IG’s report said was happening on the ground.
But of course, Trump boasts that he knows more than the Generals. (This is the man who assured us that trade wars are “easy to win,” and who recently explained that we shouldn’t use windmills to generate electricity, because televisions won’t work when the wind isn’t blowing…among many, many other expressions of idiocy.)
A link to a one-page summary of the Pentagon report is here. Read it and weep….