Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Last night's Tucker Carlson - Ralph Peters dustup

I did a bit of wincing as I watched it because they are both good men basically in agreement about America's role in the world.

One problem was that Peters got too strident:

Retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters compared Tucker Carlson to a Hitler apologist while a guest on his Fox News show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Tuesday.

The comment stemmed from a discussion on foreign policy regarding ISIS, the Middle East, and whether or not Russia is an ally in the fight against Islamic terrorism. Peters called Putin “pure evil” but Carlson was skeptical saying, “Hard to see how he’s a threat to us … why not just accept that bad people share our interests [with regard to ISIS], and side with them?”

Peters said that Carlson sounded like “Charles Lindbergh from 1938.” Lindbergh was an aviator and American medal of honor winner whose views on Nazi Germany and Hitler netted him tags like “isolationist” and “fascist sympathizer.” Carlson was not pleased with the comparison.

“Slow down Colonel. You cannot compare me to someone who would make apologies for Hitler, and I don’t think Putin is comparable to Hitler,” Carlson said.

Carlson called Peters’ comment a “grotesque overstatement” that was “insane” and said, “You just compared me to a Nazi apologist because I asked a simple question.”

Despite apologizing and offering to retract his comment, Peters compared Carlson to someone living in 1938 who was ignorant of Hitler’s rise to power.

“I’m sorry. If you don’t like the Charles Lindbergh thing I will retract that,” Peters said. “But let’s just say you sound like someone in the 1938 saying, what has Hitler done to us?”
The other problem was Carlson overlooking Russia's actual behavior in Syria and what it says about Russia's strategic aims:

Carlson bristled with indignation over the attack on his character, and the conversation fell off a cliff. Carlson’s premise is, however, worthy of a dispassionate and comprehensive response. “Why does it contravene American interests to make common cause with a group that is trying to kill ISIS?” the Fox host asked. The answer to his question is simple: It does not. The problem is that Carlson’s is not an accurate description of Russia’s behavior in Syria.
In September of 2015, as the Bashar al-Assad regime teetered and with army reserves depleting rapidly, Russia intervened militarily on its vassal’s behalf. Moscow claimed it was unilaterally joining the global coalition to combat ISIS, but its interest was only in saving Assad and, by extension, Russia’s last port on the Mediterranean at Tartus. Moscow focused not on striking ISIS targets but on anti-regime rebels trained by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Russia even struck CIA-provided weapons depots in Syria, revealing to the world for the first time the extent of the U.S. government’s covert efforts to unseat the genocidal, WMD-deploying dictator in Damascus. Russian attacks on the bases where U.S and British Special Forces train indigenous soldiers continued well into 2016. As recently as March, Russian jets bombed a town in which coalition forces were operating—and just a few kilometers away from where U.S. special forces were stationed.
Russia’s conduct in Syria has been deplorable. Their every effort has been expended to actively preserve the integrity of a regime that is alleged to have deployed chemical weapons on civilians, that executes women and children en masse, uses rape as a weapon of war, and organizes starvation campaigns targeting whole cities. The United States has confirmed that its intelligence indicates Russia was aware of Syria’s preparations to deploy nerve agents on civilian targets in April. Following that attack, a Russian-made warplane bombed the hospital in which gas victims were receiving treatment, an operation the U.S. believes was designed to cover up the massacre. Russia is credibly alleged to have used cluster bombs, incendiary munitions, and white phosphorous in violation of international law.
Russia rarely executes any strikes on ISIS targets. Why should they? The regime they are defending has little interest in neutralizing the ISIS threat entirely. “Oil and gas sales to Mr. Assad’s regime are now Islamic State’s largest source of funds,” the Wall Street Journal reported in January. This follows a pattern; Assad looked the other way when Islamist terror groups began coalescing into the organization that became ISIS because he assumed such groups would shock and scare the West out of intervening in the conflict. He was correct. Both Moscow and Damascus continue to view ISIS as a useful entity that allows them to frame the conflict as one between the forces of civilization and savagery.
As the ISIS “caliphate” implodes, the regime has taken to mounting a kinetic defense of the Islamist terror network’s strongholds. In June, a U.S. Navy fighter shot down a Syrian warplane when that bomber executed airstrikes on U.S.-backed forces laying siege to the suburbs of ISIS’s de facto capital, Raqqa. Russia responded to that attack on their ally not with apologies for interfering in the campaign against terrorists they claim to support but by threatening to target any NATO assets that cross the western bank of the Euphrates River.
These conflicting interests are intractable. They are why a series of jointly negotiated ceasefires have failed and why the limited cessation of hostilities in Syria’s south, agreed to by Russian and American officials at the G20 summit last week, is doomed to follow a similar course. Iran and its proxies—another set of disreputable Russian allies—are mounting an increasingly aggressive campaign against U.S. forces near Syria’s border with Jordan and Iraq. The ceasefire was broken this week by regime-aligned forces and Iranian-backed rebels.
To cooperate with Russia in any effort to impose peace in Syria, such as jointly-monitored “safe zones,” is to be complicit in the regime’s crimes. As long as the Assad regime is in power, there will be a Sunni-dominated insurgency against his regime. To ally with Russia in Syria is to align with rogues like Assad, Hezbollah, and the Islamist radicals they claim to oppose. That would create a schism between the U.S. and the Sunni actors (both sovereign and non-state), relationships that are already strained as a result of the Obama administration’s overtures toward Iran. Those are unacceptable moral compromises that are not justified by any rational strategic consideration.
The kind of cooperative relationship the U.S. and Russia can navigate is the one in which they are presently involved—the kind typified by mechanisms designed to keep one another apart and to de-escalate conflicts should they arise.
Clarity, gentlemen, clarity.


  1. Aside from whether I agree or not, and frankly I have to admit I do not know enough about all this to intelligently comment, but, damn bloggie, you sure do as I take the large print in this post to be your well thought-out thoughts and I must say, it's damned impressive!

  2. That's kind of you to say, but it mostly consists of two lengthy excerpts, one from the Daily Caller and one from Commentary.