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“We have defeated ISIS in Syria” – Is Trump telling the truth?

Eric Zuesse

At 11:52AM on Wednesday, December 19th, CBS News headlined “White House orders Pentagon to pull troops from Syria immediately” and reported that, “Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a veteran of the US Air Force who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and now serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said it’s ‘simply not true’ [which Trump, had said there, that] ISIS is defeated in Syria.”

CBS News didn’t indicate which political Party Kinzinger represents, but he is a Republican, and he represents the rural Illinois 16th Congressional District, where Donald Trump had beaten Hillary Clinton by a 17% margin in 2016. So, Kinzinger is an anti-Trump Republican on this matter. He’s credible about that, not partisan about it.

Who is telling the truth, Trump’s “We have defeated ISIS in Syria” or Kinzinger’s contrary, and what explains the contradiction between the accounts by Trump and Kinzinger?

As the CBS News report says, “Two weeks ago, Special Envoy Brett McGurk said the end of ISIS will be a long-term initiative, and “nobody is declaring mission accomplished.” CBS’s report, however, fails to note that McGurk is an Obama appointee and has been consistently dedicated to America’s defeating Russia and replacing the leadership in all nations that are allied with (or even friendly toward) Russia, including, most especially, Syria and Iran.

At a deeper level, the question is: Which nations are primarily the cause of the considerable reduction in ISIS forces in Syria? If ISIS has been defeated in Syria, then, nonetheless, is it true for Trump to claim, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria,” or is the United States not even the main force which has done that?

On 30 September 2015, CNN headlined “Russia launches first airstrikes in Syria” and reported that, “Claiming to target ISIS, Russia conducted its first airstrikes in Syria, while US officials expressed serious doubts Wednesday about what the true intentions behind the move may be.” The next day, on October 1st, PBS bannered “Mike Morell, former deputy director of the CIA, talks about why Russia deployed airstrikes in Syria”, and Morell, who had always been speaking and writing against Russia and against any Government that is at all allied with Russia, said:

President Putin believes that if President Assad were to depart the scene, there would be even more instability in Syria and, with that greater instability, ISIS would have more running room, and you could actually end up with ISIS in Damascus. So that is the primary reason he’s doing what he is doing. Now, the question is why doesn’t he just attack [only] ISIS then because President Assad is under attack from a variety of different groups? ISIS is one, al-Nusra [Al Qaeda in Syria] is one, and the moderate opposition is another. So in order to prop up Assad to keep him in control, to make sure you don’t have more instability, he wants to attack all of those groups, right. But his fundamental focus is on ISIS.”

But, then, he argued for US President Barack Obama’s position, against Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria:

If we were to have a transition from Assad to another government that everybody can agree on, then we’re actually going to have more stability in Syria. And I think the President probably argued that as long as Assad is around, he is a magnet for fighters to join ISIS, to join al-Nusra to fight Assad. And you can’t ultimately defeat ISIS and defeat al-Nusra without getting rid of President Assad in the process.

So: Morell acknowledged that Putin’s main target was ISIS, but Morell said that Obama was correct to oppose Russia’s bombing campaign there, because “you can’t ultimately defeat ISIS and defeat al-Nusra without getting rid of President Assad in the process.” Then, he said, of Putin, “this guy is a thug. This guy is a bully.” But he said that, unfortunately, America must deal with that “bully”: “first thing we have to convince the Russians of is that you can’t successfully deal with ISIS and al-Nusra without Assad going away. We have to be able to convince them of that. We really believe that. We really believe that. We really believe that he is a magnet for drawing people to ISIS and to al-Nusra.” He was saying that Assad had caused ISIS, which was trying to overthrow and replace him.

On 9 October 2015, investigative journalist Tony Cartalucci bannered “The Mystery of ISIS’ Toyota Army Solved” and he documented that ISIS had gotten its Toyota pickup trucks from the US-backed Free Syrian Army, whom Obama called moderate rebels. Whether the FSA had ever had those trucks wasn’t known.

Then, on 14 October 2015, the Financial Times bannered ”Isis Inc: how oil fuels the jihadi terrorists” and reported that,

Oil is the black gold that funds Isis’ black flag — it fuels its war machine, provides electricity and gives the fanatical jihadis critical leverage against their neighbours. … Selling crude is Isis’ biggest single source of revenue. … While al-Qaeda, the global terrorist network, depended on donations from wealthy foreign sponsors, Isis has derived its financial strength from its status as monopoly producer of an essential commodity consumed in vast quantities throughout the area it controls.”

Then, on 16 November 2015, the New York Times bannered “US Warplanes Strike ISIS Oil Trucks in Syria” and reported that:

United States warplanes for the first time attacked hundreds of trucks on Monday that the extremist group [ISIS] has been using to smuggle the crude oil it has been producing in Syria, American officials said. … Until Monday, the United States refrained from striking the fleet used to transport oil, believed to include more than 1,000 tanker trucks.”

Two days later, on November 18th, the Pentagon said at a press conference, that “This is our first strike against tanker trucks” of ISIS.

Moreover, on November 24th, Zero Hedge bannered “’Get Out Of Your Trucks And Run Away’: US Gives ISIS 45 Minute Warning On Oil Tanker Strikes” and reported that the US Government were doing this oil-tanker-truck bombing only for show, because Russia had actually started the serious effort to conquer ISIS in Syria, and so the US needed to do something, for PR purposes.

Yet, further evidence also exists that the US Government supported ISIS against Syria’s Government:

On 24 March 2013, the New York Times bannered “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From CIA”, and reported that “From offices at secret locations, American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons,” and that “‘A conservative estimate of the payload of these flights would be 3,500 tons of military equipment,’ said Hugh Griffiths, of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, who monitors illicit arms transfers.”

The US Government tried to hide its involvement in this, by doing it through allied “Arab governments,” which were named in this news-report: “Qatar and Saudi Arabia had been shipping military materials via Turkey,” and all four of these Governments (US, Sauds, Turkey, and Qatar) were trying to overthrow Syria’s Government. Then, on 8 September 2014, AFP headlined “Islamic State fighters using US arms: study”, and they reported that the US Government was supplying ISIS. On 1 September 2017, Russian Television reported that the US Government was secretly supplying weapons to ISIS and that an anti-Assad fighter had even quit the CIA-backed New Syrian Army because of that.

US President Barack Obama started the US policy to arm ISIS, and it was continued under the current US President.

There is considerable other evidence that the US Government has invaded, and been occupying, parts of Syria, solely in order to replace Syria’s Government by one that would be controlled by the Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia.

It is definitely a lie for Trump to say: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria.”

A big turn in these events had been the failed 15 July 2015 coup-attempt, to overthrow Turkey’s Government, and which Turkey’s President, Tayyip Erdogan, says was engineered by the Gulen organization headquartered in the US, which is connected to and protected by the CIA. After July 15th, Turkey increasingly has allied with Russia’s Government, against America’s Government.

Later on December 19th, Reuters headlined “US State Department personnel being evacuated from Syria — US official” and reported that, “All US State Department personnel are being evacuated from Syria within 24 hours, a US official told Reuters.”

The present withdrawal of the US Government from Syria is actually due to the success of Vladimir Putin’s and Tayyip Erdogan’s plan (which I described on 10 September 2018, and which they jointly announced a week later, on September 17th) for Turkey to handle the military task of conquering the jihadists in Syria’s Idlib province and of Turkey’s forces then moving eastward from Idlib to compel the US Government to end its occupation of northeastern Syria — that nation’s crucial oil-producing region. If Russia’s troops, instead of Turkey’s, were to do that task, killing US troops, it would risk bringing on a US-Russia war, but, since Turkey is still in NATO, that danger doesn’t exist when Turkish troops and armor (backed by Russian air-power) do that highly sensitive job. Turkey’s forces would likely have needed to kill at least some US troops if Trump didn’t take this decision now to evacuate them; so, he did what he had to do, in order to avoid an extremely embarrassing US military defeat.

Instead of “We have defeated ISIS in Syria,” the truth, from the US Government, would be “We have been defeated in Syria,” or (more precisely) “We have surrendered in Syria.”

However, Putin (and Erdogan, and maybe even Assad) will not be crowing about their victory. (Erdogan, however, already is.) In any case, Syria’s Government has successfully resisted the US Government’s effort, since 2009, to replace Syria’s Government by one that would be controlled by the Sauds. When Russia entered that war on 30 September 2015, at the invitation of Syria’s Government, in order to kill ISIS and all of the other jihadist forces in Syria (including al-Nusra and America’s other proxy-forces who were America’s boots-on-the-ground fighters killing and dying there), Obama’s dream, of handing Syria as a vassal-state to the Sauds, was doomed to failure. Trump’s effort to win what Obama could not, has now likewise finally failed.

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Jerry Alatalo
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Given the dates of recent events related to Syria, can one suggest a more plausible explanation for Donald Trump’s “shocking announcement”? Trump, as usual relying on a Twitter post instead of a policy speech to “inform” the American people, made his revelation on Wednesday December 19. On the following day, Thursday December 20, a 2-hour meeting was held at the United Nations focused on the White Helmets, where evidence was presented proving the so-called “rescue organization” – and winner of an Oscar at the Academy Awards for “Best Documentary” – is a terrorist war propaganda structure guilty of murder, theft,… Read more »

Antonym
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Antonym
DunGroanin
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DunGroanin

https://www.moonofalabama.org/
Has a detailed report including what happened when Erdogan and Trump talked on the phone – the neocon hawks being in the room and erdy all got their bluff called by the ever reliable Changer!
Donald burns the current neocon aristos like moths on a candle.

vexarb
Reader

Link: Bashar Ja’afari Syria has doubts about US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from the country’s territory, Syria’s UN Amabassador Bashar Ja’afari has told reporters. “At first we need to see if this decision is genuine or not,” he said. ‘The American decision was referring us to a delay of between 60 and 100 days so let is wait and see if this decision is being implemented genuinely.” The Syrian diplomat said announcements of troops withdrawals from other countries, including Iraq, were made during the previous administrations, but US forces are still there.

vexarb
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ttshasta
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ttshasta

I clearly remember reading an Information Clearin ghouse article that ISIS was making $2M per month trucking oil to Turkey to sell to an oil co. owned by Erdowan’s son.
After Russia did over 400 sortie bombings on the truck convoys the US joined in and claimed over 100 convoy bombings. Subsequently PBS Newshour produced a show discussing US bombings of the oil convoys; PBS used footage from Russian fighters while not telling viewers.
Who defeated who?

Kathy
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Kathy

vexarb
Reader

From the man who ought to know: Vladimir Putin: _As concerns the defeat of ISIS, overall I agree with the President of the United States._ I already said that we achieved significant progress in the fight against terrorism in that territory and delivered major strikes on ISIS in Syria. There is a risk of these and similar groups migrating to neighbouring regions and Afghanistan, to other countries, to their home countries, and they are partly returning. It is a great danger for all of us, including Russia, the United States, Europe, Asian countries, including Central Asia. We know that, we… Read more »

Paddy Jameson Power
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Paddy Jameson Power

Mr Putin is always diplomatic

PAUL
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PAUL

Skim through the media and nearly every story is the same; Mad Dog Mattis is a wonderful peaceful old neocon and Trump is giving Putin and Iran their biggest break in decades, presumably out of spite. The Guardian and BBC lead the fight against troop withdrawals and – Bloody Hell! – Peace breaking out! As always they want War, War! War against the Russians and the Chinese, that’s their policy. When Kennedy defied the Deep State he only had academic liberals on his side but Trump has the red neck support that the Neocons always relied on. Wouldn’t it be… Read more »

George cornell
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George cornell

And they killed Kennedy for it, surely. Operation Northwoods showed the utter madness enjoyed by the American military at that time. All Chiefs of staff signed off on a plan to attack American cities, kill their own citizens and blame the Cubans, so they could invade. Kennedy fired the mad dog Chmn of the Joint Chiefs , Lemnitzer, who presented the proposal to him, and it was not long after that Kennedy was assassinated. Things are no different. What should have happened was that Kennedy legislated additional levels of control of the Jack Rippers and the Buck Turgidsons. They did… Read more »

davemass
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davemass

WWII – Russians/Soviets 20-odd mill. dead, got Hitler,
Russians/Iranians got ‘rebels’/ISIS,
Yanks take credit- was it ever thus?

Seamus Padraig
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Seamus Padraig

THIS JUST IN

Mattis has resigned over ‘policy differences’:

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/12/20/politics/donald-trump-james-mattis-out/index.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=fbCNN&utm_content=2018-12-21T00:23:10

I was reluctant to believe Trump at first, since he’s reneged on his Syria promise before. But it’s starting to look like this might be for real after all.

And now it’s on like Donkey Kong!

0use4msm
Reader
0use4msm

Of course Trump isn’t telling the truth. But if it takes a falsehood to bring a war to its end, I’m happy to go along it. If the US pulls out, and that’s a very big “if”, Syrian forces will be able to finish the job properly.

wardropper
Reader
wardropper

Wonderful cognitive dissonance in Washington these days. The idea that the US “pulls out” of a country which never invited them in in the first place, and in which they had no business anyway, is like one of Salvador Dali’s weirdest paintings.
Syria did not ask for, or require, US “assistance”, since the evidence of what US assistance really means is plastered all over the globe. Assad knew this, as did most of the mentally functional people of Planet Earth.

vexarb
Reader

CIA to be withdrawn from protecting Afghanistan Poppy fields:

Trump admin is withdrawing 7,000 troops from Afghanistan in coming months, two defense officials said Thursday, around half American military. Mr. Trump made decision same time he decided pulling American forces out of Syria, one official said. (as Trump moves to re-align US foreign policy his way, including cessation all ‘regime-change’ plans & over-abundance US troops occupying other nations, Trump’s attack on huge U$ regime deficit will also impact military spending – incl. foreign-based troop cutbacks.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/20/us/politics/afghanistan-troop-withdrawal.html

Antonym
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Antonym

“Defeated ISIS” is just a slogan excuse meant for the neocons and MSM: the main point is that president Trump pulls a lot of US personnel out of Syria (and Afghanistan) as promised pre election against the wishes of US hawks like HRC, Mattis, Brennan etc.
Trump had to delay this pull out till he got the rogue FBI / DOJ hawk elements enough off his back.

Rejoice!

Trump logic is solid: the primary goal of US defence is to secure the US borders, not those of Saudi Arabia , Israel or Pakistan.

vexarb
Reader

SyrPer is online again,, the best collecting-node for real news and reliable analysis on this topic (with a lot of crackling static from enthusiastic readers BTL):

https://www.syrianperspective.com/2018/12/terrorist-leaders-condemned-to-death-by-court-sar-security-uncovers-vast-zionist-gulf-supplied-weapons-depots-more-probing-operations-by-rats-in-hama-fail-mass-graves-with-hundreds-found-by-syrian.html

vexarb
Reader

Syrian Perspective is down at the moment, so I looked BTL WaPo for a Washington perspective. Of the first 100 readers’ comments, only 1 was even mildly complimentary to Trump’s initiative; and even this was only faint praise by damning the unfairness of the attackers. So there is a huge gap between Trump and “the bipartisan consensus. Very satisfactory in my opinion; that damn bipartisan consensus between Donkey and Elephant in the U$, between Conservative and Labour in the UK — all under the Red Shield banner of the AZC — was what brought us the military shame and economic… Read more »

George Cornell
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George Cornell

It shows that the overarching issue for them is not being in power. This trumps (so to speak) doing the right thing, and all issues of morality. Why their not being in power is the ultimate immorality, don’tcha see.

mohandeer
Reader

The US presence within the Euphrates area was nothing more than an illegal geopolitical occupation with the sole purpose of protecting what they hoped would be a resource asset to serve their own interests. The UN & it’s colonialist members were in violation of sovereign territories in an attempt to extend the war to serve their own expansionist efforts and certainly not to aid in the elimination of their proxy terrorists. It only remains now to await the unwarranted occupation exit of their forces which would enable the SAA to rid Syria of the remaining US protected IS factions. (Blog… Read more »

Thomas Turk
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Thomas Turk

110% YES. He couldn’t tell what he knows is fact.. that the lying Mad Muri-cunt Generals supported ISIS.. as he had chosen them and had given them carte blanche.

wardropper
Reader
wardropper

He doesn’t even know who, or what ISIS is. Just like the Guardian. If it knew what ISIS was, it would cease to print its daily drivel on the subject, childishly pretending not really to want perpetual war in the Middle East, yet unable to imagine a scenario where whatever Washington wants, the Guardian will give it in spades… One often uses exaggerated language to express strong disagreement or exasperation in matters of morality, not to mention common decency, but if the Guardian knew how excruciatingly ludicrous its behaviour has become over recent years, it would not be able to… Read more »

Jams O'Donnell
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Jams O'Donnell

No point in crying over the Guardian. It has always been the epitome of bourgeois Establishment values, and now Neo-liberal viciousness.

wardropper
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wardropper

“will NOT give it in spades”, of course…

Savorywill
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Savorywill

Frankly, who cares if the US defeated ISIS or not? I could care less. I am just glad that the US is actually pulling the troops out of anywhere they are, outside of the US itself. I give credit to Trump for actually doing what he promised as a candidate. America has been only causing problems wherever they get involved militarily anywhere. Best to bring them all back home and work on infrastructure problems or protecting the borders, or whatever, just leave everyone else alone. There has not been even one successful US military intervention since WWII, so best to… Read more »

wardropper
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wardropper

Washington thinks that ALL of its military interventions were successful.
Hundreds of thousands of children killed in the Middle East by US meddling, but on the few occasions where it is even asked, the official US government reply appears to be, “We think it was worth it”…
You don’t ask the criminal whether or not he thinks his crime was “worth it”, or whether or not he should be punished for it.
The long arm of the law needs a tighter fist here.

Cesca
Reader
Cesca

Good comment but make that it’s what the US wants others to believe wardropper, it’s patently false.

Loverat
Reader
Loverat

As far as America is concerned any pullout is too little too late to give anyone in the regime any credit. Trump is not being briefed by his advisors or Bolton on Syria. He hasn’t a clue. The damage is done to Syria and the region. But as yesterday’s article suggested, the clear victors are the Syrian people who stood up against the combined evil, which includes Trump. As pointed out below it’s unlikely US will pull out. The ‘Deep State’ don’t want to pull out. We are seeing them throw another tantrum hence the latest media circus. Watch the… Read more »

Savorywill
Reader
Savorywill

Syria seems to have won that war. I don’t know what you are talking about, except that the war shouldn’t have happened in the first place. The fact that Trump is bringing the US soldiers is good in that it indicates that he seems to see the futility in all of these frankly insane wars which have accomplished nothing except increasing the numbers of people that are extremely pissed off with America.

Martin Usher
Reader
Martin Usher

I’ll believe the pullout when I see it. If you believed the noise in the US media you’d assume that the US has just handed the entire Middle East over to Iran and Russia — there’s a whole lot of confusion since nobody knows what’s really happening. My take on this is the Syrians aided by local allies and Russian air power did the job. The US’s involvement wasn’t helpful, it was just a wedge to try to salvage ‘regime change’ from its inevitable defeat. The ‘boots on the ground’ may also have some issues; I know from one of… Read more »

George Cornell
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George Cornell

You mean hold her back as they did for Libya?

milosevic
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milosevic

milosevic
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milosevic

at least with HRC as President we would have had the mass of the Democratic supporters to hold her back

you mean like they held back O’Bomber?

Savorywill
Reader
Savorywill

I was referring to an article by the author of this post, Eric Zuesse, before the last US presidential election, published on this website, where he explained why he was voting for Trump rather than Hillary.

wardropper
Reader
wardropper

No criticism of you intended at all. Just a sigh of resignation that in the US there is now nothing remotely resembling a political party which actually represents human beings.

wardropper
Reader
wardropper

The current “mass of Democratic supporters” are not well-enough informed to know whether to hold back HRC, or to give her a Nobel Peace Prize.
The media keep them as ignorant as they keep “the mass of Republican supporters”.

David Macilwain
Reader

The US has “defeated” IS in Syria the way that a critically injured patient is defeated when their life-support is turned off. The only question is where those demobbed mercenaries may be remobilised now… in Somalia? On the Lebanese border? Kiev? Or Erbil?
Perhaps this is actually Trump’s last attempt to pull the US back from its foreign incursion before he gets impeached..

vexarb
Reader

@Macilwain: “The US has “defeated” IS in Syria the way that a critically injured patient is defeated when their life-support is turned off.” Nice one, David! Re impeachment, I think that bogeyman will prove a Halloween pumpkin in a white sheet. Troop withdrawal will prove Trump a responsible businessman and a man of his word — if he sticks to his word. Troop withdrawal from Syria was Trump’s election platform and what got him elected. The battle lines are drawn, and there is clear water between Trump and his political opponents. If he stays the course I think he will… Read more »

Seamus Padraig
Reader
Seamus Padraig

They can always accuse Trump of being ‘anti-semitic’, no matter what he does. Here’s a good example: (((Semitism))): Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump

It’s like Israel Shamir says: “Anti-Semite used to mean someone who hated Jews; now it means anyone that Jews hate.”

George cornell
Reader
George cornell

And it doesn’t even have to be hate, just not being enthusiastic enough for Israel will do nicely.

wardropper
Reader
wardropper

Washington lost its appetite for impeaching presidents after Bill Clinton.
G.W. Bush and his mob, for example, thoroughly deserved to be impeached, but it was Democrat, Nancy Pelosi, who calmly announced after her party’s ensuing victory that impeachment was “off the table”. I have never understood how such an opportunity could be missed.
The stakes are higher now, and it will take more than impeachment to wither the roots of the vast tree of corruption currently darkening the skies above US politics.

flaxgirl
Reader

I think Pelosi is a Deep Stater just like the Bushes. It seems there’s much bipartisan collaboration between certain people where Deep State plays a far greater role than anything to do with party or anything else. The Bushes and Clintons are great mates. The post 9/11 anthrax attacks were faked and you have to wonder what the level of involvement was of the two Democrats who allegedly received envelopes. I’d hazard that now-lobbyist and board member of the American Center for Progress, Tom Daschle, who co-wrote a book with his Republican counterpart (https://www.politico.com/story/2016/03/tom-daschle-officially-lobbyist-221334) and his lobbyist wife, Linda Hall,… Read more »

George Cornell
Reader
George Cornell

It needs to be asked re the odious Trump, compared to what? The Democrats, having shown their contempt for both the voter and the Democratic process by the dishonesty of their DNC and thwarting the will of the people to disadvantage Sanders?
Of course that is not to say Bill Clinton was not a great guy. There will surely be a benevolent explanation for the 26 trips to pedophile island on Jeff Epstein’s plane. He probably wanted to check on the welfare of the homeless poor adolescent runaway girls stockpiled by that other socially conscious Democrat, Epstein.

Paul
Reader
Paul

I saw Trump’s declaration about leaving Syria as perhaps part of the Inter Administration rivalry both seeking the hand of Turkey. It certainly seemed the Agencies were in cahoots with Turkey over the teasing revelations about the murder in Istanbul that undermined Trump and Kushner’s relationship with their pal the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Predictably they jumped on Trump for daring to question their conclusion that the Prince ordered the murder. You can only guess what the Agencies were offering; to curb the Kurds and to allow Turkey to take chunks of Syria. So Trump could only up the… Read more »

Paul
Reader
Paul

Correction: Patrick Cockburn in the Independent sees it very differently from his ‘colleagues’. Glimmers of sanity.