JACK POSOBIEC: Get our troops out of the Middle East

This past weekend, three US troops were cut down while they slept, and another 47 injured at the time of this report. Their deaths came as a result of an attack on a military outpost in Jordan; an attack made not by enemy soldiers infiltrating, but by a kamikaze drone. In fact, as far as I know, this is the first time US troops have been killed by a kamikaze drone in history. It won’t be the last. More disturbing still, according to the Wall Street Journal, the only reason the drone was able to clear the radar was apparently because it approached the base at the same time a US army drone was returning. This, reportedly led to “some confusion over whether the incoming drone was friend or foe.” They piggybacked us. And now three of our people are coming home in body bags.

President Biden has managed to scrape together enough mental coherence to vow to respond, though he probably knows as little about what that “response” will entail as you do. However, just in case the members of his administration happen to be in the market for a little sanity, I’d like to propose one obvious point: before you rain fire on the groups responsible, get our troops out of harm’s way. Pull them from the region. Because, as this incident makes clear, they’re sitting ducks. Perhaps, that’s what Biden and Victoria Nuland wanted all along - tripwire targets that could incite a wider war. Human shields.

“But Poso,” the neocons squawk, “won’t that send the message that we’re retreating?” No. Get your head out of the 20th century; we don’t need US troops to be physically stomping around in jodhpurs and pith helmets to still be in charge. In fact, to insist on that would be to give our enemies what they want; ground troops, like the militias themselves, are intensely vulnerable to remote-controlled weapons, whether those are drones or cruise missiles. Not to mention that, unlike cruise missiles, troops can’t just fly over the desert and kill our enemies Mission: Impossible style. Which means they’re not necessary to stage effective attacks when our interests in the region are threatened. At all.

In fact, in some cases, like Syria, most of them shouldn’t even be there to begin with. President Trump had, after all, only intended to leave a couple hundred soldiers in Syria. Yet in actuality, far more were left behind. Why? Because people in the Trump administration literally lied to the president about how many people were in Syria. No, really, this isn’t a conspiracy; they openly admitted it. Jim Jeffrey, America’s top envoy to the multinational military coalition to defeat ISIS, admitted in an interview with Defense One, saying “we were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there,” because it was “a lot more” troops than President Trump wanted.

Never mind that this is (probably) treasonous behavior; it’s also completely unnecessary. But don’t take my word for it: neocon writer Charles Lister recently published an essay-length freakout in Foreign Policy magazine because the Biden administration has apparently caught up to the rest of us and figured out that a US presence in Syria is completely unnecessary. Lister, of course, resorted to the usual fearmongering response, claiming that by not having troops in Syria, we would risk letting ISIS rise again, or something, because apparently neocons genuinely believe that the only thing keeping ISIS in check is the fear of US ground forces rather than, say, our air force or our navy. Never mind that the only reason ISIS existed, in the first place, was because until 2017, the US intelligence community was funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to fanatical thugs who they had somehow convinced themselves were “moderates.” Why? Because even if our intelligence community may have intelligence, what they don’t have is common sense. Trump ended that program, by the way. Opeeation Timber Sycamore, if you want to go down the jihadi hole.

So here’s some remedial common sense: three US troops were just killed, dozens were wounded, and God knows how much expensive equipment was lost, thanks to a kamikaze drone. That drone was sent not by a rival nation state, but instead by some pack of up-jumped barbarians. You know the message that sends to our rival nations? It tells them that with weapons worth a few thousand dollars, even an utterly outmatched adversary can destroy US equipment worth millions.

What do you think a nation like China will conclude, knowing that? Simple: they’ll conclude that drones like the one which just killed three of our soldiers are actually the most cost-effective weapons of the modern age. Which means that anywhere in the world where US troops are stationed, they will be facing constant attacks from remote-controlled suicide bombs, only one of which has to succeed to deprive us of blood and treasure. Our entire force posture is based on tanks, IEDs, jets, etc. You know what all those things have in common? They’re expensive. Drones, on the other hand, are cheap. In short, the fact that a drone was able to kill uniformed US personnel marks the beginning of open season on our troops and our military assets, who will have to risk everything to fight off weapons that literally risk nothing. And these are only Version 1.0. Wait til the drones get AI.

And speaking of weapons and military assets, we might want to be particularly careful about the ones we have, because you know who else is going to take a hit from this new evolution of war? US weapons contractors. After all, their business model right now relies on selling our “allies” insanely expensive weapons which are really only useful against outmatched opponents. What happens when those opponents realize that it only takes a couple well-placed drones to be sure they’re not outmatched anymore, and that those fancy weapons our allies bought are reduced to rubble? To give just one example, for the price of a single F-35 fighter jet, you could buy 8,000 Shahed-136 drones. Do you think it takes 8,000 drones to take out one F-35 fighter jet? Here’s a hint: No, it doesn’t. 

Which means that, now that the world is figuring this out, a lot of people are going to be a lot less interested in buying the fancy weapons our military industry produces, in the first place. Which means that our weapons contracting industry will suddenly find itself stuck in a very similar situation to master swordsmiths after the advent of gunpowder: IE, forced to either adapt to a new form of warfare or die. And in the meantime, our troops will be stuck defending those overpriced, clunky weapons, in warzones where their presence doesn’t even offer strategic value.

Unless, of course, we pull those assets and those troops out of those warzones and learn to rely on our own (not insignificant) capacity for remote warfare, particularly in Hobbesian hellscapes like the Middle East. In fact, even if we somehow ended up adopting the Code Pink military strategy and just did nothing at all to combat terrorist militias in the region, it’s not as if Jordan, Syria, and Israel don’t have armies of their own, most of whom probably know vastly more about staging a ground war with their own people than we do. It’s not as if Saudi Arabia, which is technically a US ally, couldn’t take steps to shatter the constellation of Iran-backed Shia militant groups which threaten both their interests and those of the United States. In fact, relying on both the Saudis and Israel to contain Iran was precisely President Trump’s plan when he held office, hence the creation of the Abraham Accords.

Of course, the obvious problem here is that if the Biden administration decides to further escalate the situation, which, by all intents, seems likely, that it means we risk opening up a much wider war with Iran and their proxy forces throughout the Middle East. Clearly, this is what many within the regime want. Who knows - maybe Biden will deploy the Texas National Guard next and get rid of the constitutional crisis on the border. This is a White House that follows the headlines, not one that makes it.

But with any luck, President Trump's plan will return to being America’s plan when he wins this fall. But in the meantime, let’s make sure we still have our army and our weapons, rather than let them get blown apart in the sand. For the sake of maintaining our sovereignty and our own interests, it’s time to get out of the Middle East. I know a border nearby that could use some military attention!
 

Image: Title: US troops jordan
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