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Conquest is one thing, subjugation quite another

October 13, 2019
I only know as much about Syria as the next reasonably-informed person. But I do know this. In an era of suicide bombers, IEDs and RPGs, it’s relatively easy conquer territory, but not so simple to truly subjugate it.

Donald Trump, whose military has been in Afghanistan for 18 years and in Iraq for 16, should know this. And so should President Erdogan of Turkey, whose incursion into Syria, accompanied as it is by well publicised atrocities. Turkey has had its fair share of atrocities to deal with on its own soil in recent years. If Erdogan thinks that his action in Syria will make Turkey safer from future attacks, he is surely deluded. He will also have to deal with attacks on his troops in Syria well after he has declared victory.

Has he not learned from the British in Palestine, the French and Americans in Vietnam and the Russians in Afghanistan, as well as his “ally” the United States? Clearly not. And then there are the consequences for the entire region of a resurgent ISIS.

Most wars start through miscalculations – either over-confidence by the attacking party or complacency by the defenders. And they end messily, with the human repercussions often lasting for as long as the wars themselves, if not longer. Think of Europe after the two world wars, and Iraq after Saddam’s three catastrophic wars. As for Syria, it could take a generation for peace and stability to return.

Leaving aside the moral dimension, Erdogan’s war is plain reckless, and will haunt his people long after he has left office. Those who could stop it – most notably Trump and Putin – are declining to do so, for reasons of perceived national interest. In Trump’s case, the interest may also be personal.

Shame on them. And don’t be surprised if the repercussions spill over on to American and Russian soil.

From → Middle East, Politics, USA

  1. Andrew Robinson permalink

    Nail on the head again. The British couldn’t hold Afghanistan in the 19th century either. Btw, the Kurds may have helped my Uncle Harry fight the Vichy French in Syria (or the other way round) – article from yesterday, Steve! Trump is a dangerous man.

    • Thanks for sharing Andrew – a very interesting article. As you suggest, Trump knows bugger all. Having said that, I was also unaware of the Kurdish involvement. S

      • Andrew Robinson permalink

        Isolationist and only-in-it-for-the-personal-dividend US President Trump and third-generation Turkish immigrant UK PM Boris Johnson have united to help their NATO ally and grumpy but rich refugee guardian, nominally secular Turkey, build a buffer zone in northern Syria. The second phase is regime change in Damascus, capital of nominally secular Syria – presumably via further military action and ensuing hardware sales…..WIN-WIN-(WIN)?

      • Not sure I buy this Andrew. Assad is Putin’s creature and will remain in place as long as convenient to Russia. Boris is incapable of such planning and Trump likewise. The only arms sales in the foreseeable future will be from Russia. S

  2. Andrew Robinson permalink

    The first time I visited Turkey it was for work and I couldn’t believe the anti-Kurd sentiment on EVERY Turkish TV channel – it was at the time Ocalan was “public enemy number 1”. Nationalist in the worst possible way, but lovely people (don’t scratch the surface perhaps?)….. that’s politics for you.

    • Yep. Same goes for attitudes towards Armenians, though not quite as virulent.

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