I have very mixed feelings on the decision to pull out of Syria. On the one hand, we had accomplished our stated goals and we are not the world police.
Syria was an extension of Iraq, and I remain convinced that the way we left there is why we had to go back, and that the initial withdrawal has set us back decades, if not longer, in the region. However, both Iraq and Afghanistan are endless wars because we did not go in with realistic or well-defined end-states.
Unlike WWII, with the Marshall plan, we did not have a plan in place to get our enemies back on their feet and to spread ‘Democracy! Whisky! Sexy!’ as the phrase went in the early days. Realistically, getting that region to truly embrace such is a multi-generational project and the American public did not and will not embrace such (at least at this time).
The real social structure there is clan/tribal, with an overlay of religion. There was not and is not rule-of-law in the Western tradition. There were and are efforts underway to change that, from inside those countries, but they face an uphill effort that would daunt Sisyphus.
On the radio yesterday, I heard someone talking about the talking heads, and noting that most of those bleating the loudest had the least first-hand knowledge of the situation. That they had gone to school to become talking heads, and had little-to-no experience in the real world — particularly the Middle East and with actual Kurds.
My own interactions with them are limited, but after leaving Iraq I was (and am) quite sympathetic to their desire for their own state. I felt (somewhat) safer around the Kurds I met but harbor no illusion that they are the noble good-guys. Want to know why? Search for videos of women being stoned and you will get an idea. That they are better than those around them in a number of respects (IMO) does not make them saints or good in the Western sense.
If you want a fairly decent strategic overview of what is happening and how it also ties into some high levels of geopolitics, read this and follow the links. There is a lot of good information there, and an even larger amount of food-for-thought. There is some additional economic information about Turkey that is worth finding. Meantime, I will join the person on the radio in saying you should ignore the shrieking harpies that are the majority of the talking heads.
My concern largely centers on how we went about it. Blindsiding people with something like this is almost never a good idea. Especially your allies and most especially your military leadership. The damage done to relationships is on par with what happened with our noble (sarc) withdrawal from Iraq. We have demonstrated, in the terms of the region, that we are not to be trusted as allies. Such things have a tendency to bite you in the ass down the road, and to keep biting for a long, long time.
As for the NBA, they are just the latest and most public group to fellate the Chinese leadership. Hollywood has been doing it for years, as has Silicon Valley. Collectively they cheerfully bend over and don’t even ask for lube — just keep that money coming. Freedom, liberty, justice? No thanks, we don’t care what you do so long as you leave the money on the table when you’re done. They still haven’t figured out that it never will be done, and that more and more will be required. The only bright spot is a duo who have long shown they have both a backbone and some integrity, and it made me laugh even as I admired the skewering. Even when I disagree with them, they make me laugh and think. Touche guys.