Robert Spencer is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
DefenseOne reported Thursday that Jim Jeffrey, President Trump’s former special envoy for Syria, who got that job despite the fact that in 2016 he was a signer of “the now-infamous ‘Never Trump’ letter condemning then-presidential candidate Donald Trump as a danger to America,” has boasted that he circumvented Trump’s orders to withdraw American troops from Syria by lying to the President.
Jeffrey, according to DefenseOne, “acknowledges that his team routinely misled senior leaders about troop levels in Syria.” Jeffrey explained: “We were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there,” and said that “the actual number of troops in northeast Syria is ‘a lot more than’ the roughly two hundred troops Trump initially agreed to leave there in 2019.”
Jeffrey decided to thwart the will of the Commander-In-Chief of the United States Armed Forces because, he said, the order to withdraw from Syria was “the most controversial thing in my fifty years in government.” Jeffrey, along with former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who resigned because of the order, appear to be indefatigably committed to the idea that Trump has publicly and repeatedly opposed: that the United States has a moral duty to act as the world’s policeman and commit our blood and treasure to ensuring that other countries have good governments, even as our own infrastructure crumbles, and even if this involves our getting embroiled in military adventures that have no conceivable national interest, goal, or end point.
But at least Mattis chose the honorable option by resigning. Jeffrey covered himself in dishonor by staying on the job and deciding to set U.S. policy himself, despite never having been elected President and being entirely unaccountable to the American electorate.
Jeffrey even boasted about his defiance: “What Syria withdrawal? There was never a Syria withdrawal. When the situation in northeast Syria had been fairly stable after we defeated ISIS, [Trump] was inclined to pull out. In each case, we then decided to come up with five better arguments for why we needed to stay. And we succeeded both times. That’s the story.”
Who elected this clown? Who gave him the authority to determine United States policy toward Syria? Rating America’s Presidents discusses how Trump has been obstructed at every turn by a coterie of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who have arrogated power to themselves and represent the political, military, and media establishment. This oligarchy has decided to ignore the will of the people and rule the United States as its personal fiefdom, with a steady erosion of our constitutional freedoms.
In the 2020 presidential election, it appears at this point that they have beaten back the challenge to their hegemony that Trump represented. But at very least, now the existence of this sinister oligarchy is widely known. Most Americans assumed that when Trump became president, he would be able to implement his own agenda insofar as he could secure the cooperation of Congress, as other presidents had done. But now it is abundantly established that Jim Jeffrey was only one of an entrenched gang of bureaucrats at all levels who were determined to thwart his every move.
Although the media dismissed talk of a “deep state” as a conspiracy theory, the New York Times admitted its existence on September 5, 2018, when it published an anonymous op-ed that proclaimed, “I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.” The author was revealed in October 2020 to be a low-level staffer, Miles Taylor, who never met Trump. The Times elaborated on these foes of Trump within his own administration in October 2019: “President Trump is right: The deep state is alive and well. But it is not the sinister, antidemocratic cabal of his fever dreams. It is, rather, a collection of patriotic public servants—career diplomats, scientists, intelligence officers and others—who, from within the bowels of this corrupt and corrupting administration, have somehow remembered that their duty is to protect the interests, not of a particular leader, but of the American people.”
While this sounded high-minded, there is no doubt whatsoever that the New York Times would have taken the opposite position if the federal bureaucracy had dared interfere with the Obama agenda. Even Jim Jeffrey might have been angry. But the Washington establishment has decided that insubordination in the Trump administration was only fitting and proper. The array of globalist, socialist, internationalist forces opposing Trump’s challenges to their hegemony would allow that establishment to take no other position.