President Trump says he’ll quickly withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria. As I understand it, we have about 2,000 of them there. Most are in the north helping the Kurds root out the remnants of ISIS.
I think Trump’s decision is badly misguided. I agree with Sen. Marco Rubio. He worries that the U.S. withdrawal will turn Syria over to Russia and Iran, and might lead to another conflict between Israel and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah. It will also lend strength to the argument by Russia and China that the U.S. is an unreliable ally.
I also agree with Sen. Ben Sasse who stated:
Eight days ago the Administration called a hypothetical pullout ‘reckless.’ Today, we’re leaving.
The President’s generals have no idea where this weak decision came from: They believe the high-fiving winners today are Iran, ISIS, and Hezbollah. The losers are Israel, humanitarian victims, and U.S. intelligence gathering.
A lot of American allies will be slaughtered if this retreat is implemented.
Trump’s rationale for the pullout is that the only reason to be in Syria was to defeat ISIS. With ISIS defeated, it makes sense to pull out.
But even if countering ISIS were the only good reason for our presence, Trump’s pullout would still an error. Yes, ISIS has been defeated for now. However, as many of 15,000 remain in the area, according to some experts. Without our presence, it’s likely that ISIS will reorganize and again become a serious threat.
This, of course, is basically what happened when President Obama pulled U.S. forces out of Iraq. Al Qaeda in Iraq had been defeated. However, many of its fighters reorganized themselves as ISIS and achieved success that al Qaeda in Iraq had only dreamed of.
Sen. Sasse is a never-Trumper and Sen. Rubio has had his disagreements with the president. However, Trump’s decision also runs contrary to the advice of Secretary of State Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mattis, and National Security Adviser Bolton.
For a particularly powerful critique of Trump’s decision, I join Scott in recommending Gen. Jack Keane’s analysis.
UPDATE: Defense Secretary Mattis, who strongly opposes the pullout in Syria, is stepping down. He will serve through February of next year, giving Trump time to find and replacement and, hopefully, see him confirmed.
Mattis cited his differences with Trump on U.S. foreign/military/national security policy. He highlighted differences over relations with U.S. allies and being “resolute and unambiguous” in countering China and Russia.
While top-notch people like Mattis and Jeff Sessions leave the administration, hacks like Alex Acosta and Rod Rosenstein remain in place