The US Withdrawal from Syria: A Blessing in Disguise?

This piece (sharing the same title as this blog post) written by (res) Major General Gershon Hacohen for the Begin Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies is receiving some positive comments at the moment. For me it falls far short of the mark. I have pasted the conclusion below, the full article can be found here:

“What Israel needs most from the US at the present time is political and diplomatic backing in support of its vital national interests, primarily 1) support for its continued hold of the Golan as a vital condition for its defense; and 2) cessation of pressure for further territorial withdrawals in the West Bank. With luck, Trump’s Syria turnaround might catalyze a shift in US regional strategy in this direction.”

This strikes me as an almighty straw man argument. Has anyone noticed any particular pressure on Israel to leave the Golan Heights or West Bank lately? I have not, so why add it to a piece about the US withdrawal from Syria? There’s no talk of American troops involved in any kind of peace deal with the Palestinians and no reason we would want them there (and a million reasons we wouldn’t) so again why raise it as if it was an issue?

Furthermore the Americans just gave us an almighty $38 billion aid package over the next 10 years. I don’t think walking away from them is a particularly sound strategy.

I just left this comment on the piece online:

I am having some cognitive dissonance with this piece, the Americans are leaving Syria and this seems to mean we can’t expect them to place troops in the West Bank in a peace deal (something I’m not aware that we ever wanted) and the Golan Heights must never be given up (something that isn’t going to happen anyway).

Regarding interventions, the Americans have made highly successful military interventions all around the world from South America to Africa and to the Middle East, it is their failures that are widely publicised and their successes kept quiet. So many countries make the mistake of writing off American and sneering at Americans these mistakes cost them.

Put simply American military power is beyond challenge. They are qualitatively and often quantitively the best in the world. In an instant Trump could bomb Iranian and Russian forces in Syria to nothing. What is currently lacking is the US desire to involve themselves in Syria. I find that understandable from their perspective.

That $38 billion in aid from them ensures the Israeli military is leagues more powerful than anything Iran or Russia (certainly operating so far from home) could place against it and for me provides a strong incentive to remain allies with them for the foreseeable future.

Regarding the spread of Russian power…does anyone really believe the Russian bear is anything more than a paper tiger? (sorry for the mixed metaphors) Their annual defence investment is only a little more than the UKs except they have a military 6 times larger. Their aggression has come at the cost of European sanctions on their economy and the expense of sending their forces to Syria have also placed a strain on them. Russians aren’t seeing any rewards of this adventurism.

From the Israeli perspective we seem to be upset that we have been unable to outsource our national defence to the Americans. This for me is most worrying on a strategic level and here I find myself coming full circle back to HaCohen’s central point, if we can’t stand on our own and win in the Middle East we can’t expect our state to survive.

I think I already know the pasting I’m gonna get btl but interested in your thoughts nonetheless…

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