A lesson for Trump in Syria: The enemy of my enemy is… my enemy

Michael Weiss writes: The Russian presidential administration’s readout of the phone call was terse but telling. “Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump,” it stated, “both spoke of the need to work together in the struggle against the number one common enemy — international terrorism and extremism. In this context, they discussed issues related to solving the crisis in Syria.”

That marriage of true minds occurred on Nov. 14, exactly six days after the world began referring, however reluctantly, to Donald Trump as president-elect of the United States.

It was an unknown number of days after the New York real estate baron received what he described as a “beautiful” letter from his soon-to-be Russian counterpart, a man whose steadfast leadership he has professed to admire and whose regime is currently — although perhaps not for long — under U.S. sanctions owing to its invasion and occupation of parts of Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin’s military is also responsible, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, for killing more Syrian civilians in a single year than ISIS has managed to do in three-and-a-half years—and all in the name of combating what Putin calls “international terrorism and extremism.”

Not that Trump is aware of that latter statistic (he has, at times, been unaware of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine), and not that he would be much bothered by it even if he were. His Syria policy, such as it can be divined from his statements and claims on the hustings, and now in his turbulent transition period, has remained doggedly opposed to reality.

His handle on the contemporary Middle East is both a monochromatic caricature of the war on terror (“bomb the shit out of them”) and a semi-conscious regurgitation of authoritarian propaganda and disinformation, the sort of lies he doesn’t dismiss and many enemies of the United States have long hoped a Western leader such as him would swallow. [Continue reading…]

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