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Numerous unknowns before us

Some years ago, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wrote that there were known/knowns, known/unknowns and unknown/unknowns.

Think about it. That’s things we know, things we know that we don’t know and things we don’t know we don’t know.

It’s that last one that will put you in really deep kimchi.

Jake Sullivan’s “Foreign Affairs” article prepared prior to Oct. 7, noting that the Middle East was quieter than it had been in two decades, is a classic example of unknown unknowns. Sullivan didn’t know that he didn’t know Hamas would attack Israel.

Whenever a sovereign state puts military assets, including troops, in harm’s way, they are going to experience a multitude of known/unknowns.

Here's a known/known: Several months ago, in a column about our on-going military missions over the last 30 years, I commented about the U.S. troops in Syria and the potential for them to come under fire of some kind in the future. Last week, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the U.S. carried out airstrikes on facilities in eastern Syria after attacks against U.S. forces in the region.

The airstrikes follow injuries to 21 American troops during strikes in Iraq and Syria. Austin further noted that, “these Iranian-backed attacks against U.S. forces are unacceptable and must stop.”

American troops have been in the region for decades, originally sent there to fight the Islamic State group that supported the overthrow of the Bashar Assad regime. Left unsaid is why U.S. troops are still in Syria. The Islamic State group that morphed into ISIS is long gone and the government of Syria does not approve of our troops on their territory.

U.S. officials have stated that the American response is aimed at deterring strikes against U.S. personnel.

The U.S. government continues to stress that the attacks were carried out by “Iranian-backed” forces.

“They are separate and distinct from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, and do not constitute a shift in our approach to the Israel-Hamas conflict.” Austin said. The U.S. government continues to stress that the attacks were carried out by “Iranian-backed” forces.

If, indeed, the American response is directed at Iran, it would seem that we are opening up a third front in the on-going conflicts raging today. One in Ukraine, another in Israel and the third in Iran. We are rapidly approaching the area of numerous unknown/unknowns.

Rube Render is a former Clovis city commissioner and former chair of the Curry County Republican Party. Contact him:

[email protected]

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