Trump is Right to Withdraw from Syria
By Robert Spencer
President Trump has ordered a rapid withdrawal of the 2,000 remaining U.S. troops in Syria, prompting the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis and arousing the ire of CNN – both excellent indications that the President is on the right track.
CNN, the 24/7 Hate Trump Network, headlined its story on the withdrawal “Trump orders rapid withdrawal from Syria in apparent reversal,” giving the impression that an erratic Trump was changing course, only to admit in the article itself that the President “has long signaled his desire to get out of Syria.”
Meanwhile, in his self-righteous and condescending resignation letter, which is being heralded by all the usual establishment suspects today as a positively Confucian outpouring of wisdom, even Mattis admits that he agrees with Trump on the salient issue at play in Syria: “Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world.”
That’s why it’s time to bring the troops home from Syria, and why Trump is right to do so. Trump explained it himself: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”
Yes. In Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State (ISIS) has been defeated, although it still has forces there and could experience a resurgence — in which case the situation would have to be reevaluated. Still, on January 19, 2017, the last day of the disastrous presidency of Barack Obama, it looked as if the Islamic State was going to be occupying a large portion of Syria for decades, if not generations, to come. Turkey was buying its oil. The Islamic State was beginning to follow the path of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, making the transformation from terrorist group to a respected member of the family of nations.
Now the caliphate dream is over, at least for the time being. When Trump became President, he set out to break the Islamic State, and he did. It lost its last city in Syria a couple of weeks ago. Many of those whom it terrorized have begun to return to their homes.
But CNN is worried: “Even though the US will continue to maintain troops in Iraq with the capability of launching strikes into Syria, a US withdrawal of ground forces would fulfill a major goal of Syria, Iran and Russia and risks diminishing US influence in the region.”
Ah yes, it’s all part of the vast Russian conspiracy. Back in the real world, however, the idea that influence can only be had by means of having troops on the ground is ridiculous on its face. The U.S. troops in Iraq will still be able to strike in Syria if the Islamic State does achieve a resurgence, but that doesn’t matter to the CNN analysts. They are so mad to destroy Trump and have chosen Russia as their all-purpose bogeyman, so if they can portray the withdrawal from Syria as a capitulation to Russia, they will twist the truth in any way possible in order to do so.
But the real issue is this: it is foolish in the extreme, and ultimately self-defeating, to keep troops anywhere indefinitely, with no end point, no plan for victory, no clear goal — that just saps the nation’s resources and produces no good result. Anytime we leave Syria or anywhere else, anti-American elements will do their best to capitalize on our absence. But if the answer to this is to keep troops everywhere, then they will never come home, and we will need to send them into many more countries than those they’re currently in.
That way lies madness. And destruction. What is needed instead is a massive reevaluation of the basic assumptions of U.S. foreign policy, so that our energies, and our armed forces, are directed much more efficiently than they are now to blunting the force of the global jihad. We can hope that with the departure of Mattis, an exponent of the multiply-failed idea that U.S. troops in Muslim countries can build American alliances and establish Western-style secular republics in the Middle East, that reevaluation is on the horizon.