Now...you know my opinion on the whole "Hillary the Hawk, Donald the Dove" nonsense. So I think the thing to look at isn't the "why". The "why" is the same "why" Trump does anything; because he heard it on "Fox and Friends", because he thinks it'll bump the audience share (if you haven't figured out that this is the first Reality Show Presidency, hello), because it has to do with smelly foreigners and Trump hates smelly foreigners. I doubt very much whether Trump knows, or cares, about anything in Syria, including the GIs there.
No. The thing to look at is the "what happens now" and "how is this a potentially positive development?"
And I think the linked articles cover the possibilities pretty well.
First, the single "positive" thing I can think of off the top of my head is that the guys in the special operations outfits can un-ass that chaotic AO. That is good thing, in that if they don't, sooner or later the American guys in Manbij are going to have to fight Turks, our supposed NATO allies, and that won't be good for anyone. Add to that the simple reality that Syria is a dog's breakfast right now. Nothing, including the nonsensical plan to form some sort of Kurdish "Ever Victorious Army" to keep a boot on the neck of the Sunni salafis who signed up for the Islamic State, probably for the retirement benefits, is going to make the place logical and comprehensible. It's a goddamn mess, a Hobbsean war of all against all, and the only thing a GI is going to get out of it, if he's unlucky enough, is dead.
Adnd from there everything pretty much goes downhill.
The Kurds, poor suffering bastards, get hung out to dry like they have by every foreign (and most domestic) adventurers since Saladin. Between the Assad regime and the Turks and the Saudi-bankrolled salafi jihadis the Kurds are going to be tossed into the shark tank. That sucks, to me, anyway, because the Kurds seems like a decent bunch in general, and I have a soft sport for the underdogs. But, like most underdogs, they're gonna find what the smallest dog in the dog pound always finds out; if you stand still they fuck you, and if you run they bite you on the ass.
The other thing I see is that this is unlikely to do anything to lessen the troubles that the Middle East is likely to bring to the United States. That well has been so long and so deeply poisoned that it is too late for the US to simply pull every swinging richard out and hope that the locals will forget the ferenghi and start killing each other. Well, they WILL kill each other, but they will also have time and energy to figure out how to kill the Yankees, if they can. The legacy of the US in the Middle East is a long and disastrous one, going back well into the Fifties. If you're interested, I wrote a lighthearted summation over at Graphic Firing Table in four parts; here, here, here, and here (with a rumination on the potentially ruinous consequence of prolonged war with the Muslim peoples of the Middle East here).
Cole points out that the worst possible outcome of this will be the Saudis' move into the power vacuum with more support for their loathsome fundamentalist proxies. Ugh. Just what the Middle East needs; MORE religious nuts.
The bottom line is that the Middle East is a nearly impossible problem for a U.S. government to solve due to a number of fixed points in history that constrain the government's actions today. To change that would mean trying to change both history and an inertial mass of special interests that are completely unwilling to allow that change to happen.
For my Army brothers I hope Trump's government does manage to yank them out of Syria.
For the rest of us? Let's not kid ourselves. That won't help the cesspit of ambition, distraction, uglification, and derision that is the modern Middle East. And it doesn't mean that the Orange King thinks of himself as a Prince of Peace. Greg Jaffe at the Post has a good piece that limns the sort of viciousness that is at the heart of Trump's character. He's a bully. He likes to hurt and kill people if it doesn't mean he has to risk himself. When he talks about ending wars he's talking about a Roman ending; making a wasteland.
So if Trump is "getting out" of Syria, don't fool yourself; this simply means that he will take his vicious egotism somewhere else.
We are so, so, SO fucked.
Update 4/12: Maybe more fucked that we thought. Here's Fred Kaplan on what now appears to be an inescapable attack on Syria:
"...Russia and Iran, not wanting to lose their most valued ally and foothold in the region, would come to Assad’s rescue, repairing the damage, replacing the planes, and possibly escalating the conflict. (Trump) can’t launch an all-out attack on Syria’s air force without also attacking Russia, and he can’t do that without risking a very dangerous new war."Will Le Roi L'Orange be willing to begin that war? Are We the People willing to do nothing if he does?
It seems that we are about to find out.
Update 4/14: And so we have.
The "Western allies" - the U.S., Great Britain, and France - delivered some munitions to Syria late Friday night. The attack was described as "limited", and is supposed to have been directed specifically at Assad's checmical munitions capabilities.
Fred Kaplan claims the the bombing was primarily a "win" for SecDef Mattis and CJCS Dunford, whose main concern was to 1) not get the U.S. mired deeper in yet another hopeless Middle Eastern civil war, while 2) not gin up a shooting war with Russia.
Supposedly Carpenter Trump and his Walrus pal Bolton wanted to go in chocks-away and take those chances.
The frustrating thing about this - for me, anyway - is the degree to which it shows how hopeless the United States "national security" edifice has become at actually thinking about "national security".
Technically you can "make a case" for using lethal force against the Assad regime in Syria on the grounds of its use of chemical munitions. Chemicals are in the group of especially "horrible weapons" that are routinely banned by treaty and condemned in public. And the Assad regime is certainly among the genuinely loathsome of the Earth, a pure semi-Stalinist dictatorship that has long lost any pretension of governing rather than simply reigning.
But this reality-show violence is worthless, and shows the degree to which the U.S. government, in particular, has lost any genuine capacity to think outside the narrow range of kinetic action it has limited itself.
The Assad regime is playing the Game of Thrones, where to lose is to die. It will happily absorb whatever death and destruction this attack will cause in return for successfully using chemicals to crush the Army of Islam rebels in East Ghouta. The cost is well worth it, for Assad, and that the Trump Administration can't think of a better way to get him to reconsider that calculation...well, it will be no surprise to know that the Trumpkins aren't the nicest, newest, or smartest cruise missile in the launcher.
But in the broader view, how much more handless are the minions of Orange Foolius than those of Obama, who was likewise unable to "solve" the problem of sending U.S. armed force haring off across the globe chasing raggedy local rebels and wannabe jihadi franchisees? Or Dubya, who broke the despotic bottle that contained Iraq and was unable to deal with the chaos? Or Clinton, whose random spasms of intervention ranged from laughable to - as in the case of Somalia - tragic? Or Poppy Bush, who sent his military careering around Eurasia and Central America "solving" problems his predecessor Reagan had largely created? Or Reagan himself, whose Charley Wilsons helped create the mujaheddin monster that struck it's creator decades later?
Our friend seydlitz, when he forayed here, used to complain bitterly about the United States' utter inability to think strategically, to define clear national geopolitical interests and then make rational choices about how to address them.
What ultimately so pathetic about this latest round of let's-bomb-something-because-we-have-to-"send-a-message" is how it starkly illustrates how right seydlitz is; how completely and utterly captive to its own incapacity, delusion, sterility, and hubris the American political and military establishment is.
As one of my former recruit privates would have described it, "That's fuckin' magically delicious, man!"