(from here)

What is peace? Depends, but most Americans would probably think of peace as freedom from war and civil disturbance. However, I suspect most people would not want to sacrifice a police state for peace. Nonetheless, that is the type of peace people have been know to settle for.

So why are we talking about peace here? It is Christmas, and one of the people who comments here, marmoewp, made a request.


I’d be interested to hear yours and possibly other reader’s thoughts on the resignation letter of Secretary of Defense James Mattis
I have set up a thread on my site, as I do not want to take over Tom’s post here.

Folks are inferring that Mattis resigned because Trump pulled our forces out of Syria and will probably do the same in Afghanistan. Since I do not have a strong opinion on this matter, I was not planning on doing a post on this topic. Why don’t I have a strong opinion? I am not sure whether President Donald Trump made a good or bad decision. 

  • Leaving a couple of thousand troops in Syria is neither risk free or especially cheap. A force that small can be overwhelmed (Our forces in Afghanistan are basically in the same situation). To protect that force, we have to provide considerable air support and strongly protected logistical support. Was leaving those troops in place the best use of those troops? Not sure.
  • The world does not hold still. So every military mission is subject to mission creep. What is mission creep? When we ask this question, “what are our solders doing there”, the answer starts to broaden to include new objectives? As time passes we lose sight of the original mission. We forget the original job was to just to destroy ISIS or Al-Qaeda. We overlook the simple fact that that job is effectively done.
  • We have allies in the region who should have a bigger interest in preserving peace in the Middle East than we do. Isn’t time they took a greater role? Are they going to do what they should be doing if we are doing it? It is not like we are charging anyone for this.
  • Our primary focus in the area is Iraq, not Syria.
  • We have alternative ways of exerting influence. Using our military should always be a last resort. Unfortunately, military force is the only thing an organization like ISIS respects.

So how do other bloggers feel about this?

Anyway, like  I am curious what people think. Got an opinion? Please leave your comments here or on  ‘s blog. That’s up to you.

30 thoughts on “WHAT IS PEACE?

  1. Saying you don’t know enough to have a certain opinion is a wise answer Tom. I feel the same way.

    I think that it is also important not to just be tripwired to dislike something simply because Trump did it. A good deal of this went on with Obama – if Obama had come out in favor of a grilled cheese sandwich, Right wing Obama Derangement Syndrome would have proclaimed grilled cheese a Soviet Socialist Secular Huminist sandwich.

    I also liked the Powell Doctrine – don’t commit our military in unless we have overwhelmingly force, an endgame objective, and an exit strategy. That said, we and our allies cannot simply ignore the threats and humanitarian crisises posed by terrorists and failed states. Both have a way of landing on ours and our allies’ doorsteps whether we like it or not.

    We also have the technological and tactical ability to insert a very small footprint of forces in order to support domestic organic forces who actually do most of the fighting and dying. This gives us and our allies amazing for e multiplier influence at little cost to affect peace and contain conflict that might otherwise metastasize outward. Arguably, in Syria and in Afghanistan we had just such situations. Trump made his tweet order without even trying to explain many difficult, but predictable negative unintended consequences.

    If we arbitrarily just pull out this force In Syria, are we just ceding that country to the not so tender mercies of Asad, Putin and Iran? Is authoritarian Erdegon really going to protect our interests against a resurgent ISIS there? Are we just (again) sacrificing our Kurdish allies who have done all the real fighting and dying in killing ISIS (10,000 Kurdish fighters killed) to be slaughtered by a combination of the Turks, Asad, Putin, the Iranian terrorist units, and ISIS? (And if you don’t think our military is quite capable of protecting our special forces there and the Kurds, then you have not been keeping up – for example, look up a story about a year ago where we destroyed a Russian mercenary force that was trying to threaten an oil facility that we occupied).

    There is only a small American advisory and training ground force in Afghanistan and our Afghan allies have suffered terrible losses lately, but so has the Taliban. The only two options are a negotiated peace or we bug out and there is a terrible slaughter. Do we just then reset Afghanistan back to before 9/11 risking a repeat 9/11? Trump and the Republicans had a lot of criticism for Obama’s precipitous withdraws from Iraq (although we had no agreement with Iraq to stay there) so it’s hard to see how Trumps unplanned, unexplained, uncoordinated with our allies, withdrawal by tweet is not even worse, don’t you think?

    I’m sick of American soldiers being the world’s policeman. I’m sick of chickenbuzzard (they don’t even deserve the term “chickenhawk”) politicians who never saw a war they didn’t like to openendly fight for their own glory and profit, as long as other people and their families did the fighting. However, I didn’t see Jim Mattis as that kind of leader and the missions he approved as those kind of missions, did you?

    1. @tsalmon

      Negotiating peace? In the Middle East?
      😕 SERIOUSLY?

      I am not happy about abandoning the Kurds. So I hope Trump does not do that.

      We also have the technological and tactical ability to insert a very small footprint of forces in order to support domestic organic forces who actually do most of the fighting and dying. This gives us and our allies amazing for e multiplier influence at little cost to affect peace and contain conflict that might otherwise metastasize outward.

      Since you were a military pilot, I assume you know more about the mechanics of such an operation than I do. Nevertheless, I don’t think we want to deploy such a force so we can back up the Kurds when the Turks come after them. The Turks are in a different league than ISIS.

      What is wrong with ceding territory in Syria? To whom are we ceding it? Are we trying to conquer the place? No. As a practical matter it easier for us to stick a small force in theatre when we need it there than it is to maintain one in theatre indefinitely.

      “Kurdistan” includes a portion northeast Syria. Turkey, because “Kurdistan” includes a large portion of Turkey is horrified by the prospect of an autonomous Kurdish region in Syria or Iraq. That problem is beyond the mission scope of the relatively tiny little force we sent to fight ISIS.

      What is the ideal solution? Many of the governments in this area are authoritarian nightmares. So there is no good solution. Our best bet is to convince the various players to attend to their own affairs and leave each other alone, but none of the governments in the area wants anything that looks like the beginnings of an autonomous Kurdistan. A 2000-man force in Syria doesn’t solve that problem.

      What is the solution? If the Turks attack the Kurds in Syria, the Kurds in Turkey will riot. The Kurds in Syria have to convince Turkey they are not worth that much trouble. I expect the presence of the Russians in Syria has Turkey concerned. That is our leverage.

      1. You may be right Tom. Well, except the part about the Kurds. Unless someone else steps in, the Kurds in Syria who allied themselves with us to fight Isis will soon be running for their lives or they will be toast. Fear of Kurdish rebellion is not going to stop Erdogan from chasing after them. The Turkish economy is in free fall due Edogan’s own borrowing and spending problems, and Erdogan desperately needs Kurdish threat to wag that dog.

        However, you may be right about our constantly injecting ourselves into what may be essentially Islam’s religious wars. Countering one thing, even seemingly well intentioned counter, always leads to another more awful thing in the Middle East. The question then is whether the unintended consequences of pulling out are worse than the unintended consequences of staying in. One way or another, however, we are going to eat a s#~t sandwich (and Trump will tell us it’s someone else’s fault).

        We realistically can’t not be involved without hurting American interests and we can’t be involved without getting burned some. Have you thought, however, that perhaps the Mattis strategy of well supported, mission specific special forces and air power with locals pulling their own weight might be the best compromise between the GW Bush full invasion strategy and the Obama just get us out of that mess strategy?

        I’ve never thought that geopolitical foreign policy and its complementary military strategy should be a partisan issue. I thought invading Iraq was a bad idea even though I voted for Bush. No matter how much I liked Obama, it’s hard to deny that he didn’t see the terrible rise of ISIS coming when he tried to get us out of Iraq. My problem with Trump isn’t that he is Republican. My problem with Trump is that, unlike Bush or Obama, Trump does not even have a strategy (except maybe Putin’s strategy for him).

        He gets little credit for it but HW Bush may have been the most brilliant statesman in our lifetime. I was there, and I thought that the first Iraq War was an amazingly successful piece of foreign policy and military accomplishment. On the other hand, that too lead to us abandoning our Kurdish and Southern Iraqi allies to Saddam Hussein’s nerve gas attacks. And our continued presence in the Islamic Holy Land gave Bin Laden his excuse for 9/11.

        BTW, when did you get so noninterventionist? Weren’t you in favor of the Iraq invasion that may actually have started all this? I guess we all learn as we go.😏

        Anyway, Merry Christmas again. Here’s something from the failing NYT on grace that you might like:


        1. @tsalmon

          Thanks for the link.

          BTW, when did you get so noninterventionist? Weren’t you in favor of the Iraq invasion that may actually have started all this? I guess we all learn as we go.😏

          I have learned, but I am not that much more noninterventionist than I use to be. I am just more realistic about nation building. Our conquest of Iraq succeeded. What failed is what followed. We tried to rehabilitate Iraq, a forty year project. We don’t have the required moral fortitude for a forty year project that is that difficult.

          There is a similar problem with respect to defending the Syrian Kurds. Using military force against ISIS was a relatively easy choice. If Turkey decides to go after the Kurds, and we fight them, the USA won’t have any allies. In fact, we will have to watch our backside, and 2000 troops won’t even be a down payment.

          Would Obama stand up to Turkey? Would either of the Bushes? Trump? What do you want him to do? Fight Turkey with 2000 troops?

          Does Trump have a strategy? I don’t know what exactly it is, but he did make a campaign promise to pull out those troops. They have done what we sent them there to do, and they don’t have the capacity to stop Turkey. All they could do is call in air strikes against Turkish military forces. You want that?

          1. “ All they could do is call in air strikes against Turkish military forces. You want that?”

            Are you asking the right question? The real question is whether Turkey wants that? I don’t think Mattis believed Turkey would attack the Kurds as long as our troops were there. Anyway, the point is moot now. At least all the pushback seems to have convinced Trump into a less precipitous withdrawal. I hope it turns out well.

  2. It’s a complex problem. I hate to admit it, but I think we need to stay wherever we are, since going in and pulling out is creating more enemies anyway.

    As far as Mattis is concerned. From what I understand he’s a great guy. I don’t want to put too much faith in him though.

    Only time will tell…….

    1. @bottomlesscoffee007

      We are not very smart. Consider. What does time us? Not enough. One the funny things we learn over the years is that even hindsight does not seem to be 20-20. Don’t we argue about the meaning of history?

      No complaints about Mattis or Trump. No reason to believe both men are not doing their best.

  3. There will never be true peace on earth until Jesus’ return. Until then we muddle through and pray for God’s intervention. However America is now a country that is no longer sure of who God is. Everything seems to be run by political games and narcissistic values. As a follower of the only true God, I’m convinced that His plan has a purpose and that He is still in control. As difficult as it seems for us sometimes, God is our only peace.

      1. Yes I know that story well. Sometimes we miss God’s answers because we’re trying to figure things out ourselves. I think that’s what the story says and I agree.😍

  4. Thanks for bringing this up! I’m pro-Trump. But I’m now weary. I thought General Mattis was an outstanding selection…but his resignation concerned me. I never gave it much more thought until you linked to the letter. Ugh…trying to read between the lines…I enjoy reading your posts because we’re in sync. You help make sense of the complex. I always love IBs take as well. We’re kindred spirits! 😁 But I’m a bit baffled. The constant Trump Derangement Syndrome is bordering treason….I’m turning off all my conservative news sources because I’m so sick of negativity. Thus I came in here for some real world common sense! I have two adorable grandsons and I’m just so concerned for their future….the moral decay and decline is at an all time high….We need men like the General to do what they do best. IB made a good point as did your first commentor. But back to Peace! The only peace comes from Jesus – He gives the peace that passes understanding. He warned us, in this world we will have troubles. But we need to put our faith in Him-and I’m praying He will continue to guide our our President who if nothing else, has helped me say Merry Christmas more this year than ever!!!! Merry Christmas my virtual friend!

    1. @Debbie L

      IB is a wise lady.

      I worry about my children and grandchildren too. There are so many things I would do differently if I knew decades ago what I know now.

      I expect Trump will leave the presidency wishing he had known at the beginning of his presidency what he had learned by the end. Then he will realize it still would not have been enough. We are imperfect. Nothing we can do will eliminate all our regrets. As you suggest, only our Lord can wipe away all our tears. So we pray and ask for His guidance.

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Thank you for visiting and offering such a kind comment.

      1. I did mean to add the caveat, while I am Pro-Trump, I recognize he is a flawed human, just like all the rest of our presidents-and us citizens! Good point, I’m sure he’ll feel the same. I just hope and pray he’s learning lessons now to not repeat in his second term! 😁

  5. Merry Christmas,Tom!

    I am conflicted on Syria, so actually I am just praying Trump has good advisors and access to info I don’t have. I also agree with you on mission creep and on there being many other ways to handle problems, besides just militarily. We have other methods that may be more effective.

    My gut reaction to the Mattis letter is that he is kind of old school,so while agreeing we are not the world’s policeman,he is also calling us to BE the world’s police against Russia and China, as if we are still engaged in a cold war, “authoritarian systems,” as he calls them, versus American freedom and democracy. I don’t believe our challenges are quite that simple anymore. While I’m pretty sure Russia and China are opportunistic and looking out for their own interests, what ails Syria is not not necessarily a threat posed by Russia and China.

    1. @IB

      That describes my reaction. Utmost respect for Mattis. When I look a situation like this, I don’t have a good answer. What about the Kurds? 2000 troops will make a difference? If the Turks move in?

      All we can do is our best. Peace comes remembering God is in control. If we are trying our best to make the choices He would have us make, then we have done our best.

  6. Tom, Marmoewp

    Policing the world is not a new or unique circumstance in history.

    For example, when Rome ruled the world, they let the countries they ruled govern themselves and only sent in Roman troops if the governors needed help to police or prevent the governors from being thrown out of power.

    However, the Romans were more pragmatic about policing costs than the USA. If they sent troops to any territory to maintain order, they made the States tax their citizens to pay for the costs of their armies.

    The USA is 21 trillion dollars in debt of which at least half of the debt is because of policing the world.
    Frankly, after all the USA efforts over time, what really has been accomplished or changed for the better in the Mid East?

    Lawrence of Arabia gave up trying to straighten out the Arabs after WWI.

    Trump appears to share my opinion. Bring our troops home. There is no longer any reason for the USA to police the world. Let the UN do it.

    Gen Mattis reminds me of General McArthur. He knew how to win wars, but then what happens after you win the war on the battlefield, especially today. Terrorists begin to appear, kill, destruct until everyone gets sick and tired and figures out a political solution to end the killing and destruction.

    The elder Bush was smarter than his son and did not invade Iraq in the Gulf War.

    President Raegan was smarter when he pulled troops out of Lebanon.

    As for Russia controlling Syria, in time the Syrians will get fed up and start terrorizing their troops and the Russians will give up and return home same as they did in Afghanistan.

    Nothing new under the sun.

    Regards and good will blogging.

    1. @Scatterwisdom

      Merry Christmas!

      Interesting comment. Agree with most of it.
      Your paragraph comparing Gen Mattis with General McArthur sort of describes the problem. If we don’t define the mission well, we have difficulty figuring out when we are done.

      Just a few observations.
      1. Our deficit stems primarily from spending from spending on health, education, and welfare programs. We do, however, spend more on defense than our allies. They need to start paying for their own defense.
      2. The idea of the UN policing the world is nonsense.
      3.Counting on the Syrians to kick out the Russians on their own own is not a good idea. The Middle East is an area where three continents come together. The area includes critical shipping routes and vital oil supplies. So the Russians will fight heartily to stay and expand their influence.

      1. Merry Christmas Tom to you and yours.

        As fpr the middle east quagmire over time, In my opinion.

        We became cats paws in the middle east,..

        The average American lost more in comparison to what we gained from our involvement.

        Regards and good will blogging.

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