This blog piece will be controversial, so much so, I doubt any of the party partisans on either side of the Hate Trump/Love Trump debate would agree with it, but some people have been pushing me to explain what I think is going on, so I’ll give you my thoughts.
First of all, my thinking on economics vs. politics.
Politics is the extension of an economic agenda, in general, throughout much of history. And war is just the extension of a political agenda. In other words, people fight wars and kill each, primarily, over money. Depressions, Bank panics, Starvation, these problems are the fuel that causes political fires. Some will argue with this, and I have respect for those people, I just don’t agree with them. Lincoln, Hitler, Mao, Stalin, FDR (you don’t see those guys lumped together often) all came to power — and the ability to do great harm and/or good — because hard times economically had changed the political situation in their native countries. The South didn’t fight the North over principle, they did it over Slavery, which was an economic underpinning for them. In the years following the U.S. Civil War, household income doubled in the North and was HALVED in the South. I could name hundreds of other leaders for whom this is also true, but this isn’t a proof, it’s an opinion.
Onward to Turkey, Syria, the Kurds, and Trump.
Long before Trump became a politician, the energy powers that be, in the Middle East, Europe, the United States, and Russia, all began to see the enormous profit potential for a new pipeline out of the Iranian, Syrian, and even Saudi oil fields, bypassing the straits of Hormuz, and hooking up to the Mediterranean Sea, in order to supply the cash-rich continent of Europe (energy-hungry) with gas and oil. As an exporter, before the Ukraine misstep, Russia was hauling in $500 Billion a year in SURPLUS dollars. Putin sorely misses this wealth and Russia has not been moving forward in the world, economically, ever since Crimea.
This is not good for world stability.
Iran, with the lowest costs of production per barrel, anywhere in the world ($3bbl!) also could potentially be an economic power, if the U.S. sanctions and political maneuvering had not bottled up their ability to move and sell the oil and gas they produce at the lowest cost in the world. For example, the same oil sold by Venezuela, which has total production costs of 10x Iranian oil, cannot make as much on their energy sales, for this reason.
Here is a tidbit from the Internet about just one of the pipelines that had been planned or Syria, that has not been built since the Syrian civil war.
The Iran–Iraq–Syria pipeline (called the Friendship Pipeline by the governments involved and the Islamic gas pipeline by some Western sources) is a proposed natural gas pipeline running from the Iranian South Pars/North Dome Gas-Condensate field towards Europe via Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to supply European customers as well as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The pipeline was planned to be 5,600 km (3,500 mi) long and have a diameter of 142 centimetres (56 in). A previous proposal, known as the Persian Pipeline, had seen a route from Iran’s South Pars to Europe via Turkey; it was apparently abandoned after the Swiss energy company Elektrizitätsgesellschaft Laufenburg halted its contract with Iran in October 2010 in the face of pressure over U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Iraq signed an agreement with Iran in June 2013 to receive natural gas to fuel Iraqi power plants in Baghdad and Diyala. The contract covers 1.4 Bcf/d (billion cubic feet per day) over 10 years. Iran’s plans to export 176 MMscf/d of gas to Iraq by 2015.
In July 2011 Iran, Iraq and Syria said they planned to sign a contract potentially worth around $6bn to construct a pipeline running from South Pars towards Europe, via these countries and Lebanon and then under the Mediterranean to a European country, with a refinery and related infrastructure in Damascus. In November 2012 the United States dismissed reports that construction had begun on the pipeline, saying that this had been claimed repeatedly and that “it never seems to materialize.” A framework agreement was to be signed in early 2013, with costs now estimated at $10bn; construction plans were delayed by the Syrian Civil War. In December 2012 the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies said that the project “remains doubtful. It is not clear how such a project will be financed given that both Iran and Syria are subject to strict financial sanctions.” In July 2015, Iranian Gas Engineering and Development Company (IGEDC) and Pasargad Energy Development Company signed a BOT (build-operate-transfer) contract under which the project owner will provide 25% of finance and National Development Fund of Iran the rest for the construction of IGAT-6.
The pipeline would be a competitor to the Nabucco pipeline from Azerbaijan to Europe. It is also an alternative to the Qatar–Turkey pipeline which had been proposed by Qatar to run from Qatar to Europe via Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. Syria’s rationale for rejecting the Qatar proposal was said to be “to protect the interests of [its] Russian ally, which is Europe’s top supplier of natural gas.”
This is Karl again.
Basically, in a nutshell, preventing the construction of these pipelines, to constrain Syrian, Iranian and Russian energy sales, has been a strategic objective of the U.S. — since our CIA got their fingers into fomenting the Syrian civil war. You cannot build or operate piplines through war zones.
It’s about money, not the Kurds. It was always about money, not the Kurds, because nothing creates wealth like natural gas and oil pipelines and production.
This next part is conjecture, but it makes sense. I believe Trump has made a deal, with the Saudi King, with Putin, with Erdogan, with Israel, and with the energy sector in the U.S and elsewhere, that is intended to pacify Syria and allow these infrastructure improvements — which will secure energy for Europe — to proceed.
One important thing which stood in the way of such a deal, and was an important thing stopping that from happening, was the Kurdish presence, in Syria.
Do the Kurds need a homeland? Yes!!
Have one faction of them been loyal to the U.S. (as it served their interests of course)? Yes!!
Can a few American soldiers in Syria accomplish that goal? No.
American foreign policy needs to be pragmatic, for the sake of the American people and the sake of the people we support.
We aren’t helping the Kurds get a homeland through our efforts there that Trump withdrew from — in fact — I argue the opposite.
They will move, consolidate, come to an agreement among their factions, and eventually get a homeland somewhere in Iraq (I predict) because this happened. They would have been at war for at least a generation if they stayed where they are and Trump knows this.
Nation-building, an exercise in futility, stood no chance at this time, at this location, and with these populations. All Trump did, was tell the truth about that — and get the American soldiers who would have paid for this pipedream with their lives — out of the way of these pipelines.