Scratching Our Heads Over Syria

By Matthew Hoh, former Pentagon official and USMC veteran

For those of you scratching your head at the chorus of US Congress people expressing alarm at Trump’s withdrawal of US troops from Syria realize that members of Congress rarely receive any information counter to what the Pentagon and defense industry want them to receive.

-Every Senate office and most House offices have military officers working in them. Generally these officers are tasked with covering military and foreign affairs for the member of Congress to which they are assigned.-Most of the briefings that congressional committees and members of Congress receive come not from the Pentagon, CIA, State Department etc, but rather come from think tanks that are directly funded by the defense industry.

-Understand the cycle: the Congress appropriates the money to the Pentagon; that money is then disbursed, in the hundreds of billions of dollars, to defense companies; the defense companies, in turn, fund think tanks (Institute for the Study of War, Center for New American Security, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Brookings Institute, American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, etc); the think tanks hire and promote men and women who are true believers in the utility of military force and the necessity of the American Empire, along with the possibility of a Pax Americana; these men and women, most with startlingly little real military or worldly experience, brief Congress posing as independent experts; the Congress then appropriates a larger defense budget…

-This is why members of Congress can be so seemingly sincere in advocating for US troops to remain in Syria, because they have rarely, if ever, been given any information that runs counter to the narrative that the US military is a “force for good”, stabilizing presence, deterrent to terrorism, etc, while the reality is the US military is exactly the opposite of that narrative and is the chief driver of the conditions that provide for the recruitment of those who join militant groups like al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban, Boko Harem, etc while leading to mass and violent schisms within Middle Eastern societies based upon ethnicity and religion.

This is also why in 2001 al Qaeda consisted of 200-400 members worldwide, but now, 17 years later, al Qaeda has morphed and splintered into organizations numbering in the tens of thousands, across continents, while millions of people have been killed, and multiple nations torn apart and destroyed, yet to listen to members of Congress or to attend a congressional briefing is to only be regaled with a catalogue of US military triumphs. The dissonance is understandable when the framework of supporting the US military victory narrative in Washington, DC is recognized.