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Is the U.S. Being Sucked Deeper Into Mideast Trap?

Candidate Donald Trump may have promised to extricate us from Middle East wars, once ISIS and al-Qaida were routed, yet events and people seem to be conspiring to keep us endlessly enmeshed. 

Friday night, a drone, apparently modeled on a U.S. drone that fell into Iran’s hands, intruded briefly into Israeli airspace over the Golan Heights, and was shot down by an Apache helicopter.

Israel seized upon this to send F-16s to strike the airfield whence the drone originated. Returning home, an F-16 was hit and crashed, unleashing the most devastating Israeli attack in decades on Syria. Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu says a dozen Syrian and Iranian bases and antiaircraft positions were struck.

Monday’s headline on the Wall Street Journal op-ed page blared:

“The Iran-Israel War Flares Up: The fight is over a Qods Force presence on the Syria-Israeli border. How will the U.S. respond?”

Op-ed writers Tony Badran and Jonathan Schanzer, both from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, closed thus:

“The Pentagon and State Department have already condemned Iran and thrown their support behind Israel. The question now is whether the Trump administration will go further. … Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (has) affirmed that the U.S. seeks not only to ensure its allies’ security but to deny Iran its ‘dreams of a northern arch’ from Tehran to Beirut. A good way to achieve both objectives would be back Israel’s response to Iran’s aggression — now and in the future.”

The FDD is an annex of the Israeli lobby and a charter member of the War Party.


Chagai Tzuriel, who heads the Israeli Ministry of Intelligence, echoed the FDD: “If you (Americans) are committed to countering Iran in the region, then you must do so in Syria — first.”

Our orders have been cut.

Iran has dismissed as “lies” and “ridiculous” the charge that it sent the drone into Israeli airspace.

If Tehran did, it would be an act of monumental stupidity. Not only did the drone bring devastating Israeli reprisals against Syria and embarrass Iran’s ally Russia, it brought attacks on Russian-provided and possibly Russian-manned air defenses.

Moreover, in recent months Iranian policy — suspending patrol boat harassment of U.S. warships — appears crafted to ease tensions and provide no new causes for Trump to abandon the nuclear deal Prime Minister Hassan Rouhani regards as his legacy.

Indeed, why would Iran, which, with Assad, Russia and Hezbollah, is among the victors in Syria’s six-year civil war, wish to reignite the bloodletting and bring Israeli and U.S. firepower in on the other side?

In Syria’s southeast, another incident a week ago may portend an indefinite U.S. stay in that broken and bleeding country.

To recapture oil fields lost in the war, forces backed by Assad crossed the Euphrates into territory taken from ISIS by the U.S. and our Kurd allies. The U.S. response was a barrage of air and artillery strikes that killed 100 soldiers.

What this signals is that, though ISIS has been all but evicted from Syria, the U.S. intends to retain that fourth of Syria as a bargaining chip in negotiations.

In the northwest, Turkey has sent its Syrian allies to attack Afrin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened Manbij, 80 miles to the east, where U.S. troops commingle with the Kurd defenders and U.S. generals were visible last week.

Midweek, Erdogan exploded: “(The Americans) tell us, ‘Don’t come to Manbij.’ We will come to Manbij to hand over these territories to their rightful owners.”

The U.S. and Turkey, allies for six decades, with the largest armies in NATO, may soon be staring down each other’s gun barrels.

Has President Trump thought through where we are going with this deepening commitment in Syria, where we have only 2,000 troops and no allies but the Kurds, while on the other side is the Syrian army, Hezbollah, Russia and Iran, and Shiite militias from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Clearly, we have an obligation not to abandon the Kurds, who took most of the casualties in liberating eastern Syria from ISIS. And we have a strategic interest in not losing Turkey as an ally.

But this calls for active diplomacy, not military action.

And now that the rebels have been defeated and the civil war is almost over, what would be the cost and what would be the prospects of fighting a new and wider war? What would victory look like?

Bibi and the FDD want to see U.S. power deployed alongside that of Israel, against Iran, Assad and Hezbollah. But while Israel’s interests are clear, what would be the U.S. vital interest?

What outcome would justify another U.S. war in a region where all the previous wars in this century have left us bleeding, bankrupt, divided and disillusioned?

When he was running, Donald Trump seemed to understand this.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the recent book, “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

21 Comments (Open | Close)

21 Comments To "Is the U.S. Being Sucked Deeper Into Mideast Trap?"

#1 Comment By Louis Lucky On February 12, 2018 @ 10:32 pm

I notice Mr. Buchanan did not once allude to the facts that the U.S. and Israel presence in Syria are blatant, illegal acts of war.

#2 Comment By Lee Timmer On February 13, 2018 @ 1:21 am

Is the U.S. being sucked deeper into a Mideast trap? Yes, willingly, thanks to Rabbi Kushner and his ilk in the Amen Lobby. The U.S. should just declare “Israel” our 51st state and make it official. (But…”anti-semitism!)

#3 Comment By john On February 13, 2018 @ 2:33 am

Well the drone could have been over the Golan heights. Which I think the international community calls Syria and Israel calls Israel. See isn’t that great! Everyone gets to be right. Bibi is facing indictment, lucky for him he can turn up the conflict knob anytime he wants.

#4 Comment By IranMan On February 13, 2018 @ 2:40 am

Spot on!

#5 Comment By Former useful idiot for GOP On February 13, 2018 @ 4:54 am

Trump understands his primary directive is to back Likud/Bibi/Israel regardless of consequence.

Cmon Patrick. You should have known.

#6 Comment By SDS On February 13, 2018 @ 8:04 am

Let’s hope Mr. Trump hears you….
He doesn’t seem to hear anyone else; except Netanyahu…

-Nor remember what he said to get himself elected…

#7 Comment By Jack On February 13, 2018 @ 8:16 am

I’m glad Pat is at least waking up to this aspect of the Trump presidency. Every other promise he made for working people has been a cruel hoax too. He is only out for himself and could care less about the damage his is doing to the country.

#8 Comment By Pear Conference On February 13, 2018 @ 9:43 am

Candidate Trump promised a lot of things – an end to crime, health insurance for everyone. You believed him??

Look at the man’s hotheadedness, his belligerence, and his unprecedented reliance on military officers.

If he launches new and utterly unnecessary wars in the coming years, no one should be surprised.

#9 Comment By The Dean On February 13, 2018 @ 9:55 am

Excellent article Mr. Buchanan as usual. As the President said this week, the cost of this war has been $6-7 TRILLION. We can thank the Bush family and their Skull and Bones associates for these wars.
As if these people in the Middle East are going to subordinate the Koran’s teachings on “peace” to the writing of Jefferson, Madison and Adam Smith and form a capitalistic republic. Good luck with that.

Israel may goad us into conflict but the final decision to go to war, is on our elected leaders not a foreign government. It is up to our congressmen and women to collectively illuminate the shadowy connections between so-called neutral journalists and think tanks backed by foreign governments.

Unfortunately most Americans get their news from broadcast television. I see NO coverage on the hidden agenda of writers, neoconservatives, or “intellectuals” that support a foreign policy that is contrary to what is best for the United States of America.

#10 Comment By Honorable Shark On February 13, 2018 @ 10:47 am

Mr. Buchanan asks reasonable questions as to the deployment of U.S. power. Reason or national sanity are not the issues when it comes to having U.S. power directed by AIPAC and the war party. When will a U.S. president defy AIPAC for the good of the U.S.? This very foreign nation is draining us of our wealth and youth (wounded and dead) and what do we get in return? For starters more wars and more enemies as they imperil the Middle East with their theocratic imperialism.

#11 Comment By Fred Bowman On February 13, 2018 @ 12:14 pm

“When he running, Donald Trump seemed to understand this.”

Well Pat, seems to me what he was saying back before the election was just “snake oil”. As they say “actions speak louder than words”, and by his actions Trump has thrown all in to the AIPAC and the neo-conservative/liberal interventionist crowd.

#12 Comment By Michael Kenny On February 13, 2018 @ 12:31 pm

Mr Buchanan always claims that whatever he wants to happen, Trump promised to do it! What he wants to do here is to get the US out of Syria so as to rescue Vladimir Putin from the consequences of his blunder in bogging himself down there as Assad’s colonial protector. What’s scaring him is the Israeli attack. If the Israelis go for Putin, the US will have little choice but to join them. The answer to the question in the title is no. The US is not being sucked deeper into anything. By making itself Israel’s protector, it too bogged itself down in the Middle East. It too cannot escape without destroying itself. Since Putin has been fool enough to make himself Israel’s enemy, a fight between the US and Putin in Syria seems almost inevitable. That’s what’s scaring Putin’s American supporters.

#13 Comment By Whine Merchant On February 13, 2018 @ 3:51 pm

This is exactly what AIPAC bought and paid for, so what’s your problem, eh? Your pal Netanyahu needs to distract the Israeli public from his own scandals, too, and nothing beats provoking a strong threat of war.

#14 Comment By IranMan On February 13, 2018 @ 5:30 pm

“The U.S. should just declare “Israel” our 51st state…”.

No way! If that happened Israel would be alloted only 2 senators. The way things are now, Israel has turned the US congress into its “other” occupied territories.

#15 Comment By Chris in Appalachia On February 13, 2018 @ 8:14 pm

Whine Merchant, Pat has conistently not been Netanyahu’s or AIPAC’s pal for … forever. Whatever your qualms with Pat’s article, this accusation is baseless and a cheap shot at the wrong person.

#16 Comment By VikingLS On February 13, 2018 @ 10:04 pm

@Whine Merchent

Pat Buchanan has been a consistent critic of Israel’s relationship with the US, Likud, and Bibi in particular for decades.

#17 Comment By Marti On February 14, 2018 @ 6:40 pm

Mr. Buchanan is the lonely voice of reason in this mass hysteria.
The US is not being sucked into another ME war, Syria has been sucked in another US war. The US is being sucked into another of Israel’s wars just like it was in Iraq where the Israeli’s in Bush’s cabinet were the Architects. This time, it Netanyahu himself in Trump’s household who is calling the shots.

#18 Comment By we don’t want it On February 15, 2018 @ 8:45 am

No real American has asked for any of these wars. Polls repeatedly show Americans want us to get out of the Mideast. The wars are the product of Israeli and Saudi influence in Washington. Trump is getting pulled in deeper because of all the foreign agents and war lobbyist operating in Washington, as any fool can see.

#19 Comment By Saldin On February 15, 2018 @ 12:56 pm

How does an entity which started the quagmire, get “sucked” into it?

#20 Comment By Saldin On February 15, 2018 @ 1:04 pm

The Dean says:
“As if these people in the Middle East are going to subordinate the Koran’s teachings on “peace” to the writing of Jefferson, Madison and Adam Smith and form a capitalistic republic. Good luck with that.”

Yeah, as if we don’t know the “exhortations to peace” found in your spiritual dogmas. *wink*

I suppose you will claim the perverse bloodshed of the world wars, and all others wars started by western entities, were all caused by people trying to follow the “exhortations to peace” found in the “Koran.”

#21 Comment By Mindful in MN On February 15, 2018 @ 5:10 pm

“Since Putin has been fool enough to make himself Israel’s enemy, a fight between the US and Putin in Syria seems almost inevitable. That’s what’s scaring Putin’s American supporters.”

Where’d you get that idea? The Israelis and Russians are great friends these days. Thanks to the last decade or two of immigration, Israel is now a plurality Russian country, and the cultures are deeply harmonious and very anti-Western.

So not to worry. There will be no shooting war with Russia over Israel. Putin is enjoying too much success slowly bleeding us strategically to let things get out of hand, and the Israelis like having us do the dying and paying for them, so they won’t act up too much either.