Back Trump in Syria

By D. J. Webb

The Trump victory represents a considerable opportunity for the UK. The future of our country outside the European Union depends on forging other trading links and a new international relations policy. Just as the Brexit outlook was looking awkwardly bleak, Trump won the US presidential election, making it likely that the path towards a new trade relationship with the US could be relatively smooth. We are no longer at the back of Barack Obama’s queue.

Strangely enough, however, the May administration appears to be intent on throwing away the new opportunities. Not only did she foolishly insult one candidate in the US presidential election, assuming that Hillary Clinton would win. Now she is intent in telling the US that the neo-conservative foreign policy must be maintained. My guess is that Mr Trump will tell Mistress May where to get off.

It was reported in The Telegraph that our government will use the “lame duck” period before Mr Trump’s inauguration to tell him that he must oppose Russia and seek to overthrow the administration of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Neo-conservatives often argue a humanitarian argument for toppling Assad. However, around 60% of the population lives in areas controlled by the government, making the simplest humanitarian solution to the crisis a victory for Assad. Toppling Assad and allowing the war to spread to large populated areas including Damascus would lead to much greater bloodshed. The British polling organisation ORB found in 2015 that 73% of those in government-controlled areas supported the Assad government (see table 4). It would be very simplistic for people living in the UK to argue that civil war should be expanded to all areas, but clearly those living in Damascus and elsewhere don’t agree. Support for the government is as high as 81% in Damascus. It is odd that anyone would think that those living in currently stable areas should seek the creation of a political and military vacuum in Syria.

The Telegraph reports:

The Sunday Telegraph understands that Britain will spend the next two months trying to convince Mr Trump’s team of the need to remove President Assad. The issue will be the “number one” priority.

Given that libertarians have an interest in the success of Brexit, I would argue that libertarians should favour US-Russian co-operation in Syria in a way that would allow a quick resolution of the war in Assad’s favour. We have far too much of this stomping on the world stage: we are only a middling power, and should be seeking a much more transactional relationship with all players. Although the May government is an improvement on the Cameron administration, it seems to be on the verge of committing a huge blunder in its foreign policy. It would make much more sense for Mistress May to fall in behind Mr Trump. We don’t have any interests in Syria, and certainly should not be seeking to expand the civil war in Syria. To fall out with Mr Trump over Syria policy is diametrically against our country’s national interest.


  1. I agree. I thought we had learned our lesson about ‘foreign entanglements’. And I do believe we need Mr Putin as our ally, yet we seem to go out of our way to make an enemy of him.
    One thing, though; you say “Trump won the US presidential election, making it likely that the path towards a new trade relationship with the US could be relatively smooth. We are no longer at the back of Barack Obama’s queue.”
    There is no queue. The UK has never had a trade deal with the United States. The European Union has never had a trade deal with the United States. All this talk about ‘trade deals’, ‘queues’ etc is just B.S., calculated to scare people away from Brexit.

  2. IMHO Assad is, at the very least, the “least bad option”. And I think this man; a UK Eye doctor until the death of his elder brother made him heir; has done his best to run Syria for all faiths and races.

    It is not a place that operates with the structure we are used to, and I suspect many in charge are still his father’s men. But Trump and Putin will give him chance, and I would liek to see UK on side.

  3. This may be the presidential election America should have had in 1992. The only enemies the West as a whole is likely have are those we decide to create.

  4. Although I am happy to support the president-elect of the USA, I’m completely baffled by this view that Trump is not a neoconservative. I can only assume that I am too thick to ‘get it’, and no doubt one of you clever people will come on here and explain it to me.

    It’s not that I think Trump is a neoconservative in some literal sense (in so far as that is possible). What he really is or isn’t politically is neither here nor there. The question is what he will do or not do, and I believe it is very likely that what he will do and will not do, will – mostly – qualify his Administration’s foreign policy as neoconservative. I base this on what Trump himself has said.

    However, this is only what I can surmise, and we just don’t know what will happen, and much will be outside Trump’s control. Still, I’ve noticed that lots of people are getting sucked into this belief that Trump’s foreign policy will be fundamentally different. This may turn out to be the case – I certainly hope so – but there is nothing at all to support this view.

    First, regarding Russia, all Trump has said is that he believes in a less confrontational approach. At the same time, he has conceded that he doesn’t know Putin. All we have are soothing words that just mean nothing.

    Second, what Trump says about Syria and what he will do as president are two different things. While this may amount to stating the obvious, it needs to be understood that Syria is merely a secondary tier of a deeper engagement by the US in the region, as is the case for Russia. For Trump to pretend that he can simply deal with Syria in isolation by withdrawing is, at best, an example of naivety taking refuge in populist rhetoric. His rhetoric has also been contradictory, as he has stated repeatedly that he would like to wipe out ISIS/ISIL militarily. We also have to remember the origins of the ISIS/ISIL problem, which is the mess the US created by invading Iraq. The idea that the US would now withdraw just like that is simply not credible.

    I mentioned America’s deeper engagement. Trump has shown repeatedly that he is completely signed-up to a pivotal aspect of the neoconservative agenda, which is the demonisation of Iran. There are no economic or military reasons for America’s paranoia about Iran – and it is paranoia. America’s posture in the Middle East is influenced by the interests of Israel, whom the United States regards as a close strategic ally. Iran is Israel’s implacable foe and, other than Saudi Arabia, the main power in the region. Israel demands that the U.S. harries and neutralises any attempt by Iran to build nuclear capacity, as this threatens Israel. Israel also alleges that Iran (as well as Syria) fund Palestinian terrorism.

    The true nature of neoconservatism is poorly-understood. Neoconservatism is a disguised ethnic agenda. Trump accepts it, it’s just that in contrast to the more hardcore, explicit neocons, he deploys more user-friendly words, formulations and rationalisations.

    Of course, I accept that Trump isn’t a neoconservative in strict academic terms as he is not a former Leftist, but his views are neoconservative and it’s also likely the foreign policy of his administration will be as he is surrounding himself with neoconservatives or people whose views are aligned with neoconservatism.

    It may well be that a neoconservative foreign policy is in America’s best interests. Much depends on what you think America’s best interests are. There is a strategic argument for the United States to maintain a close and supportive relationship with Israel, and within the framework of Beltway thinking, it is a legitimate position to adopt. Neoconservatism has become a dirty word – rightly in my view, but I consider it a dirty word for quite different reasons to others who seem to entertain this vague, Quixotic notion that America should be a selfless, benign power, presumably giving out free beanies while advancing some kind of happy-clappy philosophy from La-La Land.

    I don’t see how that can be. In short, even if Trump does not wish to be a neoconservative, I very much doubt that wish will be granted to him. But if I am wrong, then I will be the first to cheer.

    • I have absolutely no idea what point is being made here. I simply will never read a comment on an article by me that is longer than my article. I find it simply rude. I won’t wade through green ink.

      • Mr Webb,

        There is nothing ‘green ink’ about my comments. That is uncivil and insulting – and also untrue.

        I will have to try my very hardest to resist the temptation to repay your insult in kind, though I am only human. Certainly, the length of a critique does not imply that one is insulting the author of the critiqued – I really can’t think what you must be getting at in that regard. All (or almost-all) of my comments to this blog are thought-through and argued with supporting points, and the comment above is no exception.

        And in that regard, let me give you the shortened, more brutal version of my comment:

        I think your article is flawed. You are saying that Trump is not a neo-conservative. For the reasons I have explained above and more, this suggests that you are, at best, inobservant.

        Your basic problem seems to be that you do not know what neoconservatism is – at least, if your article is anything to go by (and assuming the disinformation is not intentional).

        I am entitled to comment on your articles, and others’ articles, with the tacit permission of the owners of this site who have the final say in the matter. If you have a problem either with my comments or with the manner in which I make my comments, then you have two options before you:

        (i). you can ignore my comments, both to your articles and in response to any below-the-line comments you make;
        (ii). you can contact the owners of this site without delay and make your representations to them.

        If, whether as a result of your complaints or on their own initiative, Dr Gabb or Mr Davis (see his very long comment below, which is as long as mine above) have an issue with my comments to this blog and would like to request that I desist commenting, then I will obey such an instruction immediately, without quibble or complaint.

  5. Regardless of Mrs May, Trump should ask Putin to meet him immediately. (That is to say; after his inauguration.) If Putin will not go to Washington or Trump can’t go to Moscow, perhaps they could meet in somewhere like Iceland? (Shades of the 1980s?)

    Or even Scotland… and Trump could teach Putin Golf at Turnberry? Just a thought, nothing more.

    Our own government needs to be brought into line with its People’s wishes as quickly as can be arranged. The longer the buggers in Westminster refuse to talk to him except on sufferance (the Hereditary-Clinton-Dynasty is now on ice for at least four years), the sillier we will look as a Nation.

    Trump can crack this by formally stating that Nigel Farage is his preferred initial contact-maker. Thus, all the fellas in the government here will have to blink first and pick up their phones to Nigel, who will then be happy to connect the jack-plugs on the exchange, and then go away.

    The point will have been made about last year’s sneering and so forth, and then maybe things will go back to normal, and nothing else will need to be said.

    All you people must accept that this matter of Syria can only be resolved by nations that have (a) Force, and (b) the ability to project it, and (c) the willingness to project it in this conflict . These are:
    (1) the USA
    (2) Russia
    (3) Britain
    (4) France
    (5) Israel
    Count France out – got its own problems right now. Count Israel out – it’s keeping mumm. Then, too, we ought to have no interest in this one. Russia seems to be the only one really interested in removing Islamist terrorists and the headhackers. Why we want now still to remove Assad is beyond me. Our MSM here tell us that pro-Assad “air strikes”, specially by America (they seem obsessed with those) always kill babies and hospitals and schools. Trump and Putin should be encouraged to sort something out asap, at least to put the fires out.

    And whatever our poor soldiers and aircraft and tanks are doing in the Baltic States right now, they should be told to stop it and drag/fly the kit home pronto. And not to leave any behind, not even the “soft-skinned vehicles”.

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