Are you one of those people?

US troops are back on the warpath in Syria:

United States troops have resumed large-scale counterterrorism missions against the Islamic State in northern Syria, military officials say, nearly two months after President Trump’s abrupt order to withdraw American troops opened the way for a bloody Turkish cross-border offensive. . . .

On Friday, American soldiers and hundreds of Syrian Kurdish fighters — the same local allies the Trump administration abandoned to fend for themselves against the Turkish advance last month — reunited to conduct what the Pentagon said was a large-scale mission to kill and capture ISIS fighters in Deir al-Zour province, about 120 miles south of the Turkish border.

“Over the next days and weeks, the pace will pick back up against remnants of ISIS,” Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, the commander of the military’s Central Command, told reporters on the sidelines of the Manama Dialogue security conference in Bahrain on Saturday.

Are you confused by this story? Are you one of those people who believes the president has a big impact on policy? Are you one of those people who judges a president based on how the country is doing?



10 Responses to “Are you one of those people?”

  1. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    25. November 2019 at 14:32

    There seems to be some tension between a President who apparently just wants to leave and the entanglements of past policy …

  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    25. November 2019 at 15:36

    Presidents are overrated. It’s just one person in a government of 2 million.

    Truman said something to the effect, “Poor Ike. He’ll issue an order and assume that it will be carried out.”

  3. Gravatar of Ed Ed
    25. November 2019 at 15:59

    Yes, Scott, but that one person is elected, the other 2 million members of the Government aren’t (except for the 535 Congressfolks), and we have this theory (something about democracy or something) that the non-elected crowd takes orders from the elected people.

    I bring this up because, with all your disdain for Trumpism, you seem to agree with Trump’s followers–at least as an empirical matter–that America is practically governed by a ‘Deep State’ instead of by its elected representatives. You differ only in believing this to be a positive rather than a negative state of affairs.

    Have I mischaracterized your views? If so, how?

  4. Gravatar of Pranav Cheruku Pranav Cheruku
    25. November 2019 at 17:44

    Doesn’t this hurt democratic causes and endorse strongmen? If you elect a President, it doesn’t matter what he does? It is strange, because none of these policies were accorded by Congress, whether or not Trump is right to stop these policies, surely he has the power to do so?

    Oh well, more money wasted in the Middle East and further destablization, how lovely for all of us…

  5. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    26. November 2019 at 00:07

    Are Russia and Syria recompensing the US for this latest drive against terrorists, or do US taxpayers have to pay for this?

  6. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    26. November 2019 at 08:52


    On a different topic, you made a good point in a post a while back about how you thought Islamaphobia was an underrated factor in the rise of populist right-wing governments around the world. I thought you over-weighted it as a factor, but the point remains. I think this Vox article suggests, that at least I, have underestimated the role of religion in this phenomenon, more generally.

    It’s sometimes easy for a person like me, with no religious beliefs, to understand the desperation Christian fundamentalists feel in losing the culture wars. It helps understand why Putin, for example, is more admired by many on the right than Obama, and probably even Reagan, at this point, because Putin doesn’t recognize the limits in the fight that Reagan would. Spiritual matters are more important to them than national unity, democracy, or anything else. They cling to the very un-Christian Trump, simply because he fights for them, at least on the surface. They know they can no longer win on issues that matter most to them by respecting, even the rule of law.

  7. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    26. November 2019 at 09:03

    Ed, The deep state is a paranoid fantasy of Trumpists. I expected them to look for this sort of excuse when their Great Leader failed to deliver on his promises. Repeal Obamacare? Build a Wall? Deport the illegals? Reduce the trade deficit? Pay off the national debt? Bring back manufacturing jobs? Reduce illegal immigration? What happened to all those promises? Trump told us that candidates like Jeb Bush were “weak” and that only a strong man like him could force Congress to do what he said. How’d that turn out?

    There is no “deep state”, just the reality that Presidents are one man among 320 million Americans. To think they are miracle workers is incredibly naive.

    Pranav, Trump is supposed to be the “strongman”.

  8. Gravatar of Negation of Ideology Negation of Ideology
    26. November 2019 at 10:57


    I agree with your larger point that Presidents powers are overrated, but I don’t see how this article is an example of that. In the fifth paragraph of the article, it specifically says:

    “Separately, several hundred other troops, some with armored Bradley fighting vehicles, arrived in Syria from Iraq and Kuwait under a subsequent order from Mr. Trump”

    The President made both orders, the order to withdraw and the order to put troops back in. It’s an example of Trump using his powers erratically, not that he doesn’t have power.

  9. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    28. November 2019 at 08:57

    Negation, Ask yourself why Trump does things that he would prefer not to do.

    It reminds me of people who think the Fed determines the path of interest rates, because on any given day they could have set interest rates at a different level.

    The Fed is under enormous pressure to follow the market, and the President is under enormous pressure to follow the zeitgeist.

  10. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    28. November 2019 at 09:12

    I am always confused. But perhaps the original story was an exaggeration. You may not like the term Deep State, but we do have an Administrative State which basically is on auto pilot in between the occasional major policy changes, themselves impacted by the administrative state. This is obvious, factual and necessary. I do not know what Trump thinks or does, but then again, I did not know what Obama thought or did—did you?

    One thought comes to mind re: Northern Syria. In the beginning of the recent round of the bizarro impeachment hearings, Erdogan was sitting next to Trump as the press peppered him on impeachment. Just a few weeks prior they were going ballistic as we supposedly let Turkey run over the Syrian Kurds——ignoring of course, every mitigating comment Trump made about his prior conversation. I think it’s likely some kind of reset was established. Of course you and the media had no curiosity at all as to why Erdogan was even here—nor have you done any homework as to what is happening in Northern Syria and why. It’s pathetic that your default position is always that which reflects poorly on Trump.

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