Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Trump Invades Syria: Unprecedented Escalation of US Involvement

By Daniel McAdams

US forces in Manbij, Syria. March 5, 2017.

Although the Syrian army, with its ally Russia, has made significant gains against ISIS over the past week or so, the Washington Post is reporting tonight that President Trump has for the first time sent regular US military personnel into that country in combat positions. This is an unprecedented escalation of US involvement in the Syrian war and it comes without Congressional authorization, without UN authorization, and without the authorization of the government of Syria. In short it is three ways illegal.

According to the Post, US Marines have departed their ships in the Mediterranean and have established an outpost on Syrian soil from where they will fire artillery toward the ISIS "headquarters" of Raqqa. The Post continues:

The Marines on the ground include part of an artillery battery that can fire powerful 155-millimeter shells from M777 Howitzers, two officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the deployment. The expeditionary unit’s ground force, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, will man the guns and deliver fire support for U.S.-backed local forces who are preparing an assault on the city. Additional infantrymen from the unit are likely to provide security.
On March 5th, RT ran footage of a US military convoy entering Syria near Manbij. The US mainstream media initially blacked out the story, but the Post today confirmed that the troops were from the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment in Stryker vehicles.

What is important to understand about this sudden escalation of US involvement is that if this "race to Raqqa" is won by the US military rather than by Syrian government forces, the chance that the US will hand the territory back to the Assad government is virtually nil. In other words, this is an operation far less about wiping ISIS out from eastern Syria and much more about the United States carving out eastern Syria as a permanent outpost from where it can, for example, continue the original neocon/Israeli/Saudi plan for "regime change" in Syria. 

The United States is making a military bid for a very large chunk of sovereign Syrian territory. Something even Obama with his extraordinarily reckless Middle East policy would not dare to do.

How will the Russians react to this development? How will the Russians react if increased US military activity on the ground in Syria begins to threaten Russian military forces operating in Syria (with the consent of that country's legal government)?  With President Trump's "get along with Russia" policy lying in the tatters of a Nikki Haley at the UN and a Fiona Hill at NSC Staff, how differently might the Russians see US actions in Syria than they might have only a month or so ago?

Make no mistake: this is big news. And very bad news.

The above originally appeared at The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.


  1. News of this development popped up on a couple of days ago. Supposedly the Stryker vehicles and artillery are being moved into the area of Manbij to..." reassure coalition members and partner forces, deter aggression and keep [the] focus on defeating ISIS.” Special forces, armored vehicles and artillery, all pushed into the area to "keep the focus on ISIS"? Not likely. With U.S., Syrian, Turkish, YPG and rebel forces all in the Manbij area, what could go wrong?

  2. Maybe it's time to recognize that the make-believe national borders in the region need to be adjusted and the new nations need to be made secular and governed by secular strongmen who can suppress the radical religious now in place. Russia and the US can work together towards that end.

  3. I like McAdams' writing generally but, since this is a libertarian blog, it's worth noting his error referring to the Assad regime as "that country's legal government." I suppose in a statist world Assad's regime might be "legal" (although I don't know what the benchmark is: voted in by a majority, or in accordance with the country's constitution, if any?), but it is certainly not legitimate in that its existence and activities violate the NAP, as does any state. I would make the same comment about the Russian and U.S. government personnel. My point is, we should criticize the U.S. government for being in Syria not because it doesn't have the consent of the Assad regime, but because the U.S. government is an illegitimate entity and thus all of its activities are criminal.

  4. "Something even Obama with his extraordinarily reckless Middle East policy would not dare to do."

    According to NPR, this part is not accurate. This operation and strategy was planned out during the Obama administration.

    Where is the press asking Trump why is he doing exactly what Obama had planned on doing in Syria and if his foreign policy will continue to mirror Obama's?