The five-sided Puzzle Palace on the Potomac got more puzzling Monday when National Security Adviser John Bolton announced Demento Don’s Syrian withdrawal plan was no longer operable.
The mustachioed right-wing darling and contentious former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations said Trump’s nascent plan to abandon America’s Kurdish ally to Turkish knives was on indefinite hold. From Jerusalem on Sunday he said Trump’s immediate drawdown plan will be conditioned on the defeat of the Islamic State and the safety of Kurdish allies.
On December 20, Trump claimed that he had already defeated ISIL and was pulling out 2,000 U.S. troops immediately. On Monday, Trump said new reports claiming that another policy switch was in the making are lies. In a tweet, the president said:
“The Failing New York Times has knowingly written a very inaccurate story on my intentions on Syria. No different from my original statements, we will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary . . .”
The latest outcome of Trump’s military adventurism is no surprise to Pentagon watchers. It was already in the cards when Defense Department Chief of Staff Kevin Sweeney resigned last week, a month after his boss Jim Mattis was fired. The retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral is credited with ensuring smooth operations within the multifaceted Department of Defense
Mattis, the unabashed icon of hard-nosed Marines, was dismissed last week in advance of his previously announced departure date for firing a broadside at Demento after the failing tin pot dictator gave up another vestige of America’s fading honor to a Turkish thug over a telephone.
The reason for Sweeney’s unscheduled departure was Trump’s conversation last December with Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan about the floundering ISIL army in Syria. Erdogan encouraged Trump to give up U.S./Kurd controlled northeast Syria where ISIL is hiding. Trump originally claimed that he did so because Erdogan promised the Turkish Army would finish off the broken barbarian horde Trump claimed to have destroyed. At the time, Demento mentioned nothing publicly about the fate of America’s homeless Kurdish allies that Erdogan has spent his political life trying to eradicate. There is strong reason to believe Erdogan intends to use the remnants of ISIL/ISIS to attack the Kurds after the U.S. pulls it 2,000 Marines from the region.
International observers claim ISIL is currently weak and in disarray, but not defeated. ISIL is presently enjoying an influx of Sudanese and Yemeni mercenaries allegedly paid for in gold and guns by extremists in Saudi Arabia. The Europeans are very leery of ISIL being reconstituted and rearmed with U.S.- supplied weapons intended for the inept Saudi army. The Saudis, predominantly Sunni Muslims, have a vested interest in Iraq’s Shia Muslim majority being crushed by ISIL, taking with it predominantly Shia Iran’s growing influence in Iraq.
The most reported sect of financiers funding ISIL is the infamous Wahabis, ultra-rich, ultra conservative fanatics that represent the predominant political and religious voice in Saudi Arabia. The American government denies it, although the State Department routinely acknowledges that the Saudis are always pleased whenever ISIL thrashes the Iraqi Army.
The Wahabis and their compatriots advocate a return to the early Islam of the Koran and Sunna, the traditional portion of Muslim law that advocates stoning, crucifixion and beheadings for criminal and moral turpitude. Their canons are pillars of ISIS/ISIL theology. ISIL wasn’t stopped until then-Secretary of Defense Mattis stepped in with his lashed together coalition of Marines and Kurds that pounded the crap out of ISIL in Syria. The brain behind the smooth move was reportedly Sweeney.
Trump said nothing about Sweeney’s departure except that it didn’t matter. Sweeney was leaving anyway when Demento ignominiously fired Mattis, prompting him to quit.
So does it matter?
Sweeney graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982 and spent his career in the so-called surface navy, the relatively unglamorous division of the fleet. His job until 2014 was protecting vulnerable U.S. aircraft carriers from air and undersea threats with destroyers, the lean greyhounds of the sea. His career yielded him no fame or high honors.
The worm however has a way of turning at the most propitious moments. Trump probably still doesn’t know that in 2002, Sweeney was the commanding officer who brought the ill-fated U.S.S. Cole back to life after it was blown up at the Yemeni port of Aden. The guided missile destroyer was taking on fuel when two suicide bombers in a small boat detonated a large bomb next to the hull. The blast ripped a 40-foot hole at the waterline, killing seventeen sailors and wounding 39 more.
On Sunday, the Pentagon announced that its forces had killed a member of the al-Qaeda terrorist network involved in the attack on the U.S.S. Cole. Jamel Ahmed Mohammed Ali Al-Badawi died in a drone airstrike in Yemen. On-scene DNA evidence proved that Al-Badawi was killed.
It took 18 years of constant tracking, intelligence gathering and Pentagon teamwork before arriving at the moment to pounce on the Cole’s ambusher. During his two-year tenure as Pentagon chief-of-staff, Sweeney’s overarching job was ensuring the right assets were in the right place to ensure a successful retaliatory strike.
Sweeney did the same job for Mattis that John Kelly did for Trump. He was as essential to the successful operations of the armed forces as Mattis was. Kelly, also a retired four-star Marine general, failed in the same role for Demento Don for obvious reasons,
Now there is nobody running the show at the Puzzle Palace but amateurs and enablers. Nothing good will come of it.