56 Days Until Brexit & and Still No Agreement

As per UK law, Britain is set to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019. Which is the automatic default, by the way. Even if the government were to pack up shop and go on vacation, the UK would still cease to be a member of the EU on that date.

And, as of 29 January 2019, there’s still no signed Withdrawal Agreement for leaving the EU, nor is there consensus in the UK House of Commons on amendments to Theresa May’s draft Withdrawal Agreement. Which means that the UK and the EU are headed towards a so-called ‘Hard Brexit’ where the UK leaves the EU bloc without any agreed terms, conditions, and mutual privileges.

It’s truly a sad state of affairs that 21st-century politicians can’t even agree on the terms for the UK leaving the EU bloc. You’d think they’d employ the kind of thinking that would get the job done, instead of employing the ‘Win-Lose’ thinking of the 20th-century that brought so much heartbreak to the world.

Howbeit, whether a deal is agreed tomorrow or as late as March 28, 2019 there’s no real problem — other than the fact that the business community won’t have much time to prepare for whatever terms and conditions may apply from January 1, 2020.

Not impossible. Just cutting it a bit close that’s all.


As You Would Expect, Remainers are Still Trying to Cancel Brexit

Their latest proposal is to support legislation delaying Brexit by 3-months or even until January 2020… ostensibly to give UK and EU politicians ‘time to think their way through’ to a solution (a Brexit agreement) that’ll work for both sides and therefore garner enough votes to pass in the House of Commons and the EU27 countries.

Of course, what it’s about is delay, delay, delay — until everyone dies of old age — or something else replaces Brexit in the European consciousness. You’ve got to know that they’re praying for a major terrorist attack (anywhere!) or another war (anywhere!) to make that bad ol’ Brexit man go away. Just make it go away, Mommy!

Another Remainer ploy at this late stage is a proposal to have the UK government hold another EU referendum to ensure ‘The People’ voted the right way, and if not, to give them another chance. Kindness and redemption available from Remainers. So nice!

Not only that, you’ll probably get a participation badge for voting ‘the right way’ this time and the respect of un-democrats everywhere.


After Failing to Agree a Withdrawal Agreement for 2 1/2 Years and Counting; Why Do Remainers Think More Time Will Do the Trick?

As the same problems will remain — no matter how much time is added to the Brexit schedule — so how is the element of ‘more time’ expected to solve anything?

More time… won’t solve anything. In fact, it may prove harmful to the UK side on account of the upcoming EU presidential elections.

Both Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk may seem soft and fuzzy in retrospect once we compare them to the next holders of the EU and EC presidencies, and if the UK can’t get an agreement now with grandpa Juncker and uncle Tusk in office, how do we expect to get a deal with the next crew?

Especially when the fundamental issues preventing a deal won’t have changed one iota in the meantime.

The construct we call ‘time’ isn’t the problem here; It’s the issues. Get it? And either a smooth working relationship is worth preserving or it isn’t.

But if sufficient goodwill exists and if a spirit of compromise is in the air, there will be a deal, and the delays we’re experiencing are merely serving to pressure leaders into accepting a certain set of terms. If that is the case, such delays are being used as a tactic by one side to obtain the deal they want from the other side. Fair enough.

All tactics can be considered ‘fair’ as long as by the end of the process on March 29, 2019 it results in a deal that both sides can live with.


Defining the Future Relationship

More than anything else — because actions speak so much louder than words — if the UK and the EU sign a decent Withdrawal Agreement by March 29, 2019 it will guarantee world-class future relations between the two countries.

And the reward for that is quite obvious; Peace and prosperity for the people of the UK and the EU for the rest of the 21st-century.

When it comes right down to it; Is there anything more valuable in the geopolitical world?

If you think there is, then you haven’t been on the planet long enough. Therefore, stick around young sprite. You’ve plenty to learn.

Written by John Brian Shannon

After 3-years of Lollygagging, Now They Want An Article 50 Extension?

The best example of European ‘Low Ambition’ has arrived in the UK of all places(!) and British citizens should be enraged.

After piddling around for over 2 1/2 years, the UK government is now putting out ‘feelers’ about how the UK public would react to an Article 50 extension. Pathetic.

There are many valid reasons why citizens and the media should virtually veto this idea — and number one on the list is that it cynically works to strengthen the hand of Remainers many of whom still can’t accept the June 23, 2016 referendum result and are actively working to this day to subvert the will of the majority.

Is Theresa May actually trying to create the conditions necessary to start a civil war? Because without her feeding the anti-Brexit movement at irregular intervals over the past 30-months it would’ve died out of its own accord as it wasn’t that strong to begin with.

What kind of leader would work against the wishes of a majority of referendum voters to strengthen the losers of such an historic referendum? Sir Winston Churchill (who earned his title by the way) is rolling over in his grave at this very moment.

Again, Britain’s leaders must stop acting like they’re representing the 120th-largest economy in the world and begin acting like they’re representing the 6th-largest economy in the world. Yes, even if that is scary. Oh Winston, where are you?

Britons and the entire world are dying to hear Winston Churchill snarling, ‘This will be Britain’s finest owwwa!’ in full British bulldog mode.

And far less of;
‘IsItAlrightToSitHere?Oh,ItIsn’t?OK,Sorry,I’llSitRightOverHereThenIfThat’sOKWithYou. AndI’mWillingToPay£39BillionForThePrivilege,ButIfYouWantMoreThat’sOKToo. ButPleaseJustGiveMeSomeTimeToSellItToMyGovernmentFirst.
IfThat’sOKWithYou,Jean-Claude.Don’tBeMad,OK?’

Followed by the mandatory 5-minute round of air-kisses between the two. Sickening.


Let’s Look at the Pros and Cons of a Delayed Article 50

As there aren’t any ‘Pros’ let’s skip directly to the ‘Cons’ of an Article 50 extension:

  1. It might create a civil war in the UK: Or it might strengthen the present divisions which could lead to the kind of polarized society we see in the United States. Which is great if you’re a UK politician trying to make a name for yourself by using ‘Divide and Conquer’ tactics leftover from the feudal era, but it’s never good for a country. Yes, it might work for you but it will permanently damage the country. Anyone who uses such tactics to further their own career, prolong their premiership, or gain a fleeting advantage over their political opponents should be fired by their party for fomenting public strife.
  2. Adding even more uncertainty is bad for the economy: Keeping the fight going for whatever reason instead of getting on with the business of the country has had a deleterious effect on the UK economy. As long as a Remain vs. Leave fight continues business confidence within and outside the country is negatively affected. Leave won. Remain lost. Even Remainers in government must get over it, or do the honourable thing and resign their Parliamentary seat. This applies to the House of Lords as well. If you can’t accede to the will of The People you’re not a democrat, you’re a despot. And nobody wants you — except the losers of the 2016 referendum. Bye! We (the people who believe in democracy) won’t miss you. Don’t call. Don’t write. We don’t want to know.
  3. The UK looks weak in front of the entire world: As the world watches, the way Brexit has been handled on the British side makes Britain look disorganized, unsure of itself and led by a closet Remainer, that is at all times afraid of its own shadow… and this! this? is the UK that hopes to become a major exporting nation in a globalized world that (try not to laugh here) is supposed to be based on a meritocratic government and society according to Theresa May? Give us a break!
  4. There is nothing to be gained by extending Article 50. Nothing! The same (apparently intractable) problems will remain and nothing more can be said then, that hasn’t already been said between the two sides. If they can’t get it done in 3-years (!!!) what makes them think they can get it done in 3-years + 3-months? Ludicrous! The EU says the draft Withdrawal Agreement can’t be renegotiated (which is incorrect, as it’s only a ‘draft agreement’ or ‘proposal’) and if they want to sell cars, etc. to the UK they will sign a revised (no backstop) agreement at some time before the 11th-hour on March 29th. And I don’t blame the EU one bit for trying that bluff on a weak UK Prime Minister. I would too, as would any negotiator. But Theresa May will be a fool if she falls for that ol’ negotiating ploy. Everyone can see it for what it is. So why can’t Theresa May? Inexplicable!
  5. After the EU/EC elections in May 2019, the UK will be facing the ‘Hard Crew’ — not the ‘Soft Crew’ of jolly old (and powerful) Jean-Claude Juncker and businesslike (and powerful) Donald Tusk — both of whom almost like the British. The Hard Crew is most decidedly NOT going to be easier to negotiate with. The Hard Crew is NOT going to allow any better deal for the UK. The Hard Crew is NOT going to put up with some of the shenanigans we’ve seen from the British side. And the Hard Crew certainly won’t consider changes to the proposed backstop. And the Hard Crew (and this is important!) won’t be bound by any self-serving and pollyanna Political Declaration that has absolutely no force in law. Might as well tear that up right now Theresa because the Hard Crew isn’t going to entertain one word of that document unless some part of it happens to favour the EU side. If you think the EU aren’t your friends now (and they aren’t, they’re quite rightly negotiating and bluffing for their own side, not the UK side) just wait until you meet the new boss!

Finally, Theresa May has been getting better and better by the month. However, she’s failed to grasp some important points which may prove disastrous to Britain and to her legacy once she leaves office.

Her oft-repeated statement which she quoted on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday goes like this; “Don’t let the search for the perfect become the enemy of the good.”

Which is a nice thought but it misses the mark and she doesn’t see it. Brexiteers aren’t asking for “the perfect” — they’re asking for a “successful” Brexit. What Theresa May thinks is “the perfect” is what Brexiteers merely consider “the bare minimum” level of Brexit success.

Remember the four metrics of Brexit success?

  1. Take back control of the UK’s borders and immigration
  2. Take back control of the UK legal system
  3. Take back control of the UK economy
  4. Take back control of UK trade

And her draft Withdrawal Agreement as it presently sits (unloved by anyone in the world except Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker) satisfies only 3-out-of-4 of those metrics, but is otherwise an excellent document.

Which results in a failed grade for Theresa May as far as Brexit negotiations are concerned.

A ‘No Deal’ Brexit is far superior to the present draft Withdrawal Agreement as a No Deal Brexit WILL ALLOW THE UK to strike any trade deal it wants, post-Brexit.

Theresa May is living a fairy-tale if she thinks that allowing the backstop to remain in the draft agreement and then post-Brexit trying to negotiate her way out of the backstop with the Hard Crew is going to get the UK out of the backstop. (What???)

Sorry Theresa. I like you. But the EU is trying to steal Northern Ireland from the UK by stealth (If I were them, I’d try the same thing!) employing the backstop to arrive at the point in time where a UK Prime Minister’s choice would be narrowed down by events to only one of two choices; Either surrender Northern Ireland to the EU, or the UK becomes trapped in a worse deal.

Theresa May’s draft Withdrawal Agreement as it stands would’ve gotten her a 1-out-of-10 grade in Political Science class. That’s a 10% grade. Not even up to the D- mark that we all feared in high school.

Yet, with one change (dropping the backstop, or alternatively, putting a firm end-date on Customs Union membership) would turn that very same draft Withdrawal Agreement into an A+ agreement, or 95% if you prefer that measure.

Who wants an even worse deal than at present? Hands up! None? See Theresa, I’m right!

So choose to drop the backstop, or alternatively, get a firm end-date on Customs Union membership and you’ll be the hero of Brexit and live out your life in the House of Lords after your premiership ends! Or, choose to be reviled worse than Guy Fawkes — for being the Prime Minister who delivered the British people into the hands of the EU’s Hard Crew and concomitantly trap Britain in an even worse deal than it presently has.

There’s no other options left. Taking the path of least resistance with your EU pals is no longer an option. The time has come to show some mettle or get out-of-the-way and let someone who can get the job done, get it done.

And forget about cancelling Brexit. That should be a treasonable offence even for British MP’s including the Prime Minister. The People voted to Leave and you must follow their instructions.

Of course it’s nice to leave the EU with a Withdrawal Agreement that allows an easy Implementation Period so that no one has to work too hard at moving to a new way of doing things, and it’s nice to create fluffy and pretty Political Declarations that sound wonderful and sweet (but in reality will rank as nothing once the Hard Crew gets into power) and all the other sweet, flowery, diplomatic and fluffy things that the new relationship with the EU could and should be. But none of that is based in reality.

And unfortunately, no matter how we try to pretty it up, we live in reality, not in non legally binding documents. And no one wants to be trapped in a worse deal.

So, put on your big-girl pants and get the final and most important part of the job done, or get out-of-the-way and let someone else who can, get the job done.

You’ve been great, but obtaining a successful Brexit is bigger than any one Prime Minister (or two, or three!) and it must be done right.

Hurt feelings, being pushed aside for a more proactive and bolder Prime Minister, or not being able to build the legacy you want are far less important than the British people getting out of the EU (which is what they voted for) and either obtaining a better Withdrawal Agreement prior to March 29, 2019 or moving smartly along to a No Deal Brexit by the same date, are your only two options.

Any other paths are merely flights of fantasy that only serve to waste everyone’s time, including yours.

Written by John Brian Shannon

A Day in London: 2020

Welcome to London, 2020. You’re in the former Battersea Power Station where the British International Motor Show is being held this week!

Artist rendering of the renovated Battersea Power Station in London, UK that will be home to Apple Inc.
Artist rendering of the renovated Battersea Power Station in London, UK — Apple’s UK & Commonwealth HQ. Business Insider

Apple Inc’s new UK & Commonwealth HQ is full of Alan Turing-esqe brilliant people glad to be hosting the show in their auric new building — and for the first time anywhere, iDrive (Apple’s shiny new hydrogen powered car) is on public display.

Aside from its obviously stunning design, the best thing about this car is that it can’t be stolen because unless the owner of the car is within a few feet of the car with his/her iPhone on and logged-in to the iDrive app, it is just a piece of aluminum, glass and plastic that can’t go anywhere. There’s no computer or operating system to allow the car do anything at all, save for the iDrive app in your iPhone or iPad.

apple icar concept car in london, uk
Early Apple iCar concept.

No iPhone or iPad? Then you’re not the owner of the car. Because a matching serial number iPhone & iPad is provided with each Apple Car, with thumbprint security and as many passwords or login captchas as you want. It’s up to you.

Even if someone steals your iPhone and manages to locate your car, you can always “Log out of all devices and apps” remotely from any computer or smart phone on the planet — including the app that drives your beautiful new Apple Car. (Stolen car coasts to side of road, wholly inactive)

Now, that’s what I call a user-friendly car ownership experience.


And Brexit, You Ask? Pshaw!

Brexit came and went a long time ago. Neither Project Fear or the extreme Brexiteers were right; The UK coasted through 2019, Brexiting on March 29 as scheduled and other than a temporary blip in the markets things continued as normal. Yes, even the Sun rose in the sky the next day. Astonishing!

But not really. For all the hype, compared to other events taking place in the world Brexit turned out to be a sideshow. Only hyperventilating European politicians on both sides of the English Channel noticed Brexit.

After dipping to 1.2% GDP growth in 2019, the UK recovered and is now looking at 2% growth for 2021 — not due to Brexit — but due to the fact that Remainers are no longer sabotaging the UK economy hoping for it to fail so they could get their way.

Since the summer of 2019, the UK joined the USMCA (the new NAFTA agreement) and the CPTPP, and the new Commonwealth of Nations Free Trade Accord (CNFTA). In 2020, the UK has signed trade agreements with countries that have a combined population of 5 billion+ people.

A free trade deal with the EU (based on the excellent CETA agreement the EU has with Canada) is expected to be signed by the end of 2020 and go into effect on January 1, 2021.

Food shortages, rioting, family strife, civil war? Not a bit of it.

Every politician who tried to make a career out of Brexit is gone. Whether extreme Brexiteer, extreme Remainer, whether continental European or Briton; Every politician who held an extreme Brexit position was invited by their respective parties (and voters, hehehe) to leave politics.

Enjoy the day Britons, legal migrants to the UK, and visitors! You’ve earned it.

Oh, and the UK and the EU signed a modified Withdrawal Agreement on the 11th-hour of March 28th, 2019. But you knew that.


Written by John Brian Shannon

Theresa May: Out of the Frying Pan and Into 2019

Well Brexit fans, that was a year, wasn’t it?

Everything that could’ve happened, did happen — except for a 2nd EU referendum which (speaking hypothetically) if the Leave side won, might’ve put a stop to the complaining of Remainers who still can’t reconcile the fact that they lost the referendum 2 1/2 years ago. It’s time to move on, folks!

But what if Remain had won a 2nd referendum on EU membership, you ask? It would’ve turned it into a best-out-of-three affair that would’ve required another costly and divisive referendum to settle.

If the UK had unlimited funding and unlimited time — a best-out-of-three referendum scenario would’ve worked out nicely, wouldn’t it?

Just for the record, Brexit would’ve won it two-in-a-row, thereby preventing the need for any third EU referendum and Remainers (I’m sure!) would’ve thanked Brexiteers for saving taxpayers even more millions for a third EU referendum. Because for Brexiteers it’s all about saving UK taxpayer money. You’re welcome! Just another Brexit dividend.

Fortunately, as time is short, there’s no time for another referendum to ensure ‘The People’ voted the ‘right way’ and only the usual malcontents are holding placards and yelling at cars, because, well, they didn’t get their way!

That old democracy thing really sorts them out, doesn’t it? (“Why can’t I just get my way every time?” “Because, democracy.”)


Only 90 Days Until Brexit

Although UK Prime Minister Theresa May tried mightily she wasn’t able to get a draft Withdrawal Agreement passed in the House of Commons that would’ve allowed the UK and the EU an easier transition through Brexit and (bonus for the EU!) a £39 billion, one-time payment.

However, the EU is well-known for its last-minute 11th-hour deals, and nobody should expect the draft Withdrawal Agreement to be modified enough to pass in the UK House of Commons and be approved by each EU27 country until at least March 15th. That’s just the way they do things there. Hey, they’re allowed to use whatever negotiating ploys they want, as is the UK. All’s fair in love and divorce, they say.

In the meantime, Theresa May has but one option: Prepare for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit with as much enthusiasm as she can muster, getting all of her departments moving in the right direction, and she must continue with the non-Brexit business of running the country — until the 11th-hour people want to talk again.

And they already know what they must do in order to gain a deal that will pass on both sides of the English Channel: It’s as simple as removing the Irish backstop, or putting a firm end-date on UK Customs Union membership. Either of those choices are fine.

And once that happens the UK House of Commons will pass the amended draft Withdrawal Bill with plenty of bipartisan support as party politics must step aside for the good of the country at such historical moments, and it’s likely the EU27 parliaments will pass it as well.

For EU countries, there’s not only continuing access to UK markets to think about, there’s that £39 billion one-time payment to gain or lose. And if they miss it they’ll have only themselves to blame because all it takes to obtain that £39 billion payment is a signed Withdrawal Agreement — and that means signed by both sides — the UK and each of the EU27 countries.


Steady-On, Theresa, Until the EU Get Serious About an Implementation Period + Withdrawal Agreement

According to the terms of Article 50, Brexit will occur on March 29, 2019 and it’s the default option — no matter what else happens or doesn’t happen in the meantime. If the Withdrawal Agreement never gets signed, Brexit will still occur. Let’s make no mistake.

However, Theresa May has no power to force the EU negotiators to the table in order to arrive at a mutually beneficial Brexit agreement. If they want a deal, they’ll show up prior to March 29, 2019.

But if they don’t, the UK gets to keep the £39 billion and spend it on the NHS and other important parts of the UK economy and the UK will be completely (and mercifully) out of the European Union governance architecture. Which might involve a little ‘short term pain for long-term gain’ for both sides.

Yet it’s coming out a little more each day that a ‘No Deal’ Brexit scenario isn’t as scary as Project Fear has made it out to be. Let’s try to forget how wrong they were over the past 2 1/2 years. Nobody is listening to their ‘sky is falling’ toxic talk any more.

Almost every economic indicator in the UK is on the uptick since the EU referendum and a lower pound sterling works to make UK exports affordable overseas. Which is a very good thing for British manufacturing — a sector that has fallen to less than 10% of UK GDP since the 1970’s when it contributed 25% to UK GDP.

One of the best things about Brexit is that the UK will again forge its own trade relationships with the rest of the world instead of being tied to the EU economy which has fallen from 25% of global GDP in 1993 to 11% of global GDP in 2016, and is projected to fall further to 9% of global GDP by 2020.

While we should wish the EU27 well, it’ll be a breath of fresh air for British exporters to finally leave the bloc. Yet, let’s hope the UK can leave the EU on good terms, with a decent Withdrawal Agreement that’s acceptable to all 28 nations, and with a CETA-style trade agreement.

Anything less than that minimum level of success would be a case of leaders on both sides of the English Channel shooting themselves in the foot.

Written by John Brian Shannon


NO MATTER WHICH SIDE OF BREXIT YOU’RE ON: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

When Both Parties are Right: U.S. President Trump & U.S. DOD Secretary Mattis

Each member of the U.S. president’s cabinet serves at the pleasure of the president and the same is true in the case of the United States Secretary of Defense which position is in the top tier of the Executive Office serving the country’s leader. The other two top tier cabinet positions are, of course, the Secretary of State and the Chief of Staff. All of whom serve at the president’s discretion.

That said, General Jim Mattis has done an excellent job as the U.S. Defense Secretary and there are questions as to why such a capable individual should find it necessary to retire from a position to which he was obviously well-suited. Also, the question exists whether the president influenced that decision or whether General Mattis was fired and the term “retiring” was used to convey proper respect to a long-serving military member who earned every honour he ever received.

Obviously, the president and the secretary had a difference on policy, that goes without saying. But under the U.S. Constitution, a U.S. president can pursue any foreign or domestic policy he chooses and he or she doesn’t need the approval of his cabinet.

(Of course, it’s better if they do approve)

U.S. cabinet officers serve the president, not the other way around. Therefore, in case of a difference of opinion the president wins, every time, and it must always be that way.

Even such notable soldiers as General Douglas MacArthur who tried to bully U.S. president Harry S. Truman into militarily attacking China — thereby dramatically enlarging the Korean War — was finally forced to step down famously saying, Old soldiers never die; they just fade away” find themselves subject to the U.S. president’s discretion by virtue of the laws of the United States and its Constitution.

Still, it could be instructive in some way to examine the reasons behind such events to ascertain whether a systemic problem exists that must be dealt with, or to find whether these events occurred due to some other reason.

Let’s look at the Syrian situation in the context of American military involvement, because in the case of president Trump and secretary Mattis it’s almost surely the issue that divided them:

  1. Syria has been involved in a civil war since 2011 and was the last country in the region to feel the effects of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’.
  2. No country is allowed under international law to intervene militarily in another country’s civil war without being invited by the lawful government of that country. Countries can’t unilaterally insert themselves into the midst of civil wars. That’s black letter international law. It’s 100% non-negotiable.
  3. Which the Americans did. As did their allies (some European countries).
  4. Russia and Iran on the other hand were invited by the lawful government of Syria and that invitation was made publicly. It’s a matter of public record.
  5. The legal exception to involvement by non-invited parties occurs if the UN Security Council approves military actions; Where the UN Security Council votes to apply sanctions or approve military force, military intervention becomes legal under international law. However, the UN Security Council didn’t approve military force by the U.S. and its allies against Syrian government forces or non-government forces (terrorists). Yet, the U.S. and its allies militarily attacked targets in Syria without the proper and legal authorizations required by international law.
  6. Though such actions clearly broke international law, Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad didn’t seem to mind. Yes, he did complain at first, but as soon as the Americans and their European allies lessened their attacks on terrorist targets in Syria, Bashar Al-Assad suddenly stopped complaining. To many people (and it might even hold up in international court if it ever comes to that) this clearly registered as tacit approval for America and her allies to conduct military operations against ISIS inside Syria for the duration of the Syrian civil war.

With me so far? Few people would dispute points 1 through 6 above.

No doubt that U.S. president Trump and U.S. secretary of defense Mattis were 100% aligned in regards to U.S. policy in Syria since the confirmation of General Jim Mattis on January 20, 2017.

Any difference of opinion between the two is therefore recent and easy to discern.


American Involvement in Syria: Part II

Since about November of 2018 it appears that the battle against ISIS is largely won in Syria.

From now on, it’s going to be a mopping-up operation with exponentially increasing chances for American and Russian forces to clash (accidentally or otherwise) in the ever-smaller areas formerly controlled by terrorist groups.

Not only American and Russian of course, many countries operate inside Syria fighting terrorists and de facto assist the Syrian government (even if assisting the Syrian regime isn’t one of their objectives) and some terrorists might decide to meddle with the foreign forces fighting them.

Any individual who feels they have something against America or Europe who happens to have access to a rifle, a rocket launcher, or other weapons system may feel entitled under Jihadi rules to shoot down an American fighter or bomber jet, helicopter, or perhaps take out a number of U.S. soldiers who may be sleeping in a tent or non-hardened building.

For a terrorist, the opportunity to create a war between Russia and America, or between Russia and Europe (however unlikely that may, or may not be) might prove too tempting and numbers of them on multiple occasions might soon decide to employ themselves on suicide missions to accomplish that objective.

‘Targets of Opportunity’ are what every American and European military person will now represent to Jihadis at this stage — whereas prior to November 2018 they were too busy trying to stay alive to get involved in planning traps so that (nominal allies, in Syria, at least) America and Russia might find themselves in a ground or air fight against the other. Such danger that represents!


American Involvement in Syria: Part III

Even after the American troops (numbering only 2000 personnel) leave Syria there are still a number of ways to influence events in that country.

a) Soft Power
b) Hard Power

Soft power is the application of diplomacy. The UN is the most likely place for this to happen and America has a strong presence at the United Nations. At this point in the Syrian civil war, America’s best option is UN-backed diplomacy and its 2nd-best option remains direct diplomacy between the nations that are in some way involved with Syria.

Hard power is the application of military force. The U.S. military is the most powerful on Earth but that doesn’t mean the United States should be bombing just for the sake of bombing.

If there are better options than that, those should take precedence over military actions that could result in the unwanted and unnecessary problems of military conflict happening by accident between the U.S. and Russia, or between the U.S. and Iran (or between the U.S. and any other countries operating in Syria) or between the Americans and the Syrians.

None of that is going to help bring peace in Syria.

A final thought about U.S. Hard Power being applied in Syria following the pullout of America’s 2000-strong ground and air force is that the US Navy can deliver as many missiles as the president chooses to targets in Syria from the Mediterranean Sea, anytime the president wants. This has been done in the past with regards to purported chemical attacks that occurred in Syria and is something the Navy trains for every day of the year. Likewise with the U.S. Air Force, which can deliver as many bombs or missiles to terrorist targets inside Syria as the president chooses.

And none of them are going to accidentally bomb Russian or Syrian government positions due to the prior notification protocols common among the world’s major military forces that operate in conflict zones.

Conducting military operations inside Syria is still against international law (therefore I’m not advocating for such operations!) unless Bashir Al-Assad approves of it in advance (and it’s possible he might need help if he gets surrounded by terrorists again) and it’s still in America’s interests to have the democratically elected Bashir Al-Assad government in charge of Syria vs. any number of shady terrorist groups — but at least the lives of 2000 American troops won’t be unnecessarily at risk.

They don’t mind necessary risk, but they hate unnecessary risk. Wouldn’t you?


“Two Men Look Out Through the Same Bars – One Sees Mud, the Other, Stars”

In the final stage of the Syrian Civil War, U.S. president Trump likely sees a case of diminishing returns in Syria, with a growing threat of accidental conflict with America’s nominal allies (Russia, Syria and even Iran — as far as the Syrian conflict is concerned) He sees the potential for a sudden Jihadi attack comparable to the Marine barracks attack in Beirut (1983) that killed 241 U.S. Marines that could undo the good work done by U.S forces in the country especially if a large number of U.S. troops were to be killed in such an attack whether by design or accident; He sees that Syria’s allies are poised and able to complete the task at their cost in both lives and treasure, and he sees that America isn’t going to gain anything further by staying.

ISIS will be defeated in Syria due in large part due to American involvement and no matter how long America stays it isn’t likely to get more recognition for its work fighting terrorism there than it’s already gotten.

In short, for all the right reasons, president Trump decided that U.S. forces should leave Syria — and U.S. Navy aircraft carriers or U.S. Air Force bombers could still deliver a message to terrorist groups operating inside Syria at a moment’s notice.

And from the perspective of Jim Mattis, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, he has resigned for all the right reasons. If you can’t agree on policy (and it is the job of the president to decide policy, not the SecDef) then it’s right to leave. No doubt that General Mattis felt there was more good that American forces could still do inside Syria (even though they weren’t invited and aren’t there legally) and that having U.S. forces on the ground was a stabilizing force in the country. It was that for certain.

But now that Bashar Al-Assad’s tacit approval of unasked-for American ‘assistance’ is almost certainly about to come to an end president Trump has made the right policy move on Syria.

And the president still retains the option of US Navy or Air Force attacks on terrorist targets inside Syria — while removing only the increasingly imperilled ground force option.

‘Timing is everything’ they say.

Written by John Brian Shannon


Related Articles:

  • A look back at the deadly 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut (abc.com)