Defining American greatness down

You might think that a website called “American Greatness” would be concerned that the U.S. is “outsourcing security in Syria to the Russians” (to use the reported words of the Trump administration’s acting assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs). You might think that such a site would have qualms about the U.S. abandoning Syrian fighters that we armed, trained, and encouraged to fight against the pro-Iranian regime in Syria.

In both cases, you would be wrong. Esther Goldberg, writing in “American Greatness,” writes off the program to back the Syrian fighters as “stupid” and “ill-conceived.” She complains, with justification, that during the Obama administration, the fighters found their hands tied. She does not consider the option of untying their hands, rather than cutting them off.

Goldberg seems unconcerned that, with the only force opposed to Russian and Iranian interests in some parts of Syria out of the way, an impediment to the total triumph of these interests has been removed. As the Trump administration’s acting assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs recently acknowledged, the Assad regime and its partners are using the cessation of hostilities with the forces Trump is abandoning to advance in eastern Syria. That’s where a fight for control of the strategic region around Deir al-Zour is underway — a fight said to be central to Iran’s effort to establish strategic control over territory creating a corridor from Lebanon and Syria through Baghdad to Tehran.

“American Greatness” seems unperturbed.

All the reporting I’ve seen indicates that Vladimir Putin “long sought” the shutting down of the CIA program that backed anti-Assad rebels. If so, he must consider the rebels a thorn in his side, or at least a potential thorn.

What, then, did Donald Trump the great deal maker receive from Russia in exchange for shutting down the program? As far as I can tell, all he got was a cease fire — one that serves Russia’s interests and that, the minute it no longer does, will be breached, just as past cease fires have been.

This isn’t America “winning so much we may even get tired of winning.” Nor does it strike me as American greatness.

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