Defense Secretary Mattis is Cutting the Syrian Gordian Knot

Tags: Syria
Mark Langfan

OpEds טראמפ במאטיס
טראמפ במאטיס
Mark Langfan

In 333 B.C.E., while wintering in the lands of Phrygian, Alexander the Great was confronted by the Gordian Knot, a supposedly unsolvable knot puzzle.  Various legends abound.  But, the most dramatic story is that Alexander simply took out his sword and cut the Gordian Knot, thereby “solving” the otherwise unsolvable puzzle.

Today, the US Secretary of Defense under the command of President Trump is on his way to cutting the Gordian Knot of Syria.  The vague outlines of SecDef Mattis’ strategy are apparent.  Critically, it is clear SecDef Mattis is not only on his way to solving the Syrian conundrum, but is setting the structural foundation for a Pan-Sunni/Israeli/Kurdish regional mutual defense against Iran.
Firstly, the opening reference to Alexander the Great is not merely a rhetorical flourish.  SecDef Mattis is a student of military history.  Then, Gen. Mattis was quoted in a letter stating: “For all the “4th Generation of War” intellectuals running around today saying that the nature of war has fundamentally changed, the tactics are wholly new, etc, I must respectfully say … “Not really”: Alex the Great would not be in the least bit perplexed by the enemy that we face right now in Iraq, and our leaders going into this fight do their troops a disservice by not studying (studying, vice just reading) the men who have gone before us.”

In the 300’s B.C.E., Alexander the Great’s only job was to defeat the Persian Empire.  In 2017, SecDef Mattis main job is to defeat the waxing Neo-Persian Iranian Empire.
But Didn’t Obama try to defeat ISIS? There is a critical difference between the Obama Regime’s Syria approach, and the Trump Administration’s Syria approach.  Obama talked the Sunni talk, but walked the Iranian Shiite walk. That insured ISIS would grow rather than wither. Obama never wanted Iran to lose Syria for all his anti-Assad bluster.  In fact, just the opposite, the anti-British Colonialist Obama wanted Iran to conquer the Sunni oil states and create the United Islamic States of Persia as a world superpower rivaling the United States itself.

In contrast, Trump really wants Iran defeated, and understands Syria is where their dreams of absolute Persian hegemony over the Arabs and their oil can be defeated. AKA, with Trump, the gloves are off when it comes to defeating Iran, and defeating it badly.  Militarily, ISIS is really the easy problem.  It’s Iran that’s the more difficult strategic puzzle to solve.
All of this brings us back to Syria.  Alleged pundits such as Sen. McCain should just be quiet and let SecDef Mattis and Central Command have some elbow room.  McCain’s recent statement about Trump’s Syria policy that “Unless something changes, I foresee a train wreck here, and I’m not sure that the administration recognizes how seriously, particularly, [Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan views the threat that the Kurds pose.”  

Come on Sen. McCain, SecDef Mattis doesn’t know about Turkish-Kurdish tensions??  Of course he understands the problems.  Maybe, just maybe, Turkey’s aggressive Syrian stance was based on the existence of Gen. Flynn as National Security Advisor, where Flynn was also a designated lobbyist for the Turkish Government to the tune of $500,000.

It’s clear Turkey has to come to grips with the reality that the United States is not going to betray the Kurds.  McCain would be wiser to counsel Turkey to get with the program rather than attack President Trump on Syria.  Sen. McCain should be threatening Turkey to be part of the solution, rather than the problem.  Sen. McCain should understand that these are first moves of what is a thoroughly thought out plan to defeat ISIS, defeat the Iranians, delimit Russia to Western Syria, and stabilize Syria all at the same time.
And as candidate Trump has admonished, President Trump is not going to publicly announce his strategy.  Trump is going to execute it, and destroy ISIS, and Iran first, and then talk about it later.  So, you’re not going to see me remotely explain what SecDef Mattis is doing.  All I’ll say is I believe SecDef Mattis is unfolding a brilliantly planned strategy.

Iran should retreat from Syria fast before it is militarily embarrassed and annihilated.  Iran is catastrophically over-extended, and has burned through over 100 Billion dollars betting Obama could deliver Syria and the entire Levant to them. 

Reality check/real news flash for Iran: Trump ain’t Obama.   Iran’s imperial neo-Safavidic plan has failed.  Iran had better fold up its tent, and quick, or Iran will get folded up, and buried deep by SecDef Mattis and President Trump.