woman mourns syria DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images

Trump’s Syria Withdrawal is a Chance for Peace

From Donald Trump’s point of view, a US-installed Syrian puppet regime that would push out Russia and Iran is neither central to US national security nor practicable. And, here, Trump is right for a change.

NEW YORK – President Donald Trump’s announced withdrawal of US forces from Syria has met with near-universal condemnation by Democrats and Republicans alike. That says less about Trump than it does about the US foreign policy establishment’s blinkered vision.

The mainstream of both political parties exhibits certain reflexive judgments: that the US must maintain a troop presence all over the world in order to prevent adversaries from filling a vacuum; that US military might holds the key to foreign policy success; and that America’s adversaries are implacable foes impervious to diplomacy. Trump’s withdrawal from Syria could indeed be a dangerous prelude to an expanded regional war; yet, with imagination and diplomacy, the withdrawal could be a critical step on the path to an elusive peace in region.

The US foreign policy establishment had rhetorically justified America’s presence in Syria as part of the war on the Islamic State (ISIS). With ISIS essentially defeated and dispersed, Trump called the establishment’s bluff. Yet suddenly, the establishment declared the actual reasons for the extended US presence. Trump’s move, it was charged, would hand geopolitical advantages to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and Iran’s Ali Khamenei, while imperiling Israel, betraying the Kurds, and causing other ills that are essentially unrelated to ISIS.

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