Don’t Blame Trump for Syria

Bruce Thornton says don’t blame Trump, blame our schizophrenic foreign policy. Here are three paragraphs from the middle of the article:

The worst example, of course, was the Vietnam War, when a victory hard-won on the battlefield at the cost of nearly 60,000 Americans, was squandered by a Democrat Congress that exploited the Watergate scandal and war-weariness of many voters to pass legislation abandoning the South Vietnamese. Or consider the betrayal of the Shah of Iran on the feckless watch of Jimmy Carter, who was addled by “human rights” internationalism. A geopolitically reliable ally was lost, and the seeds of al Qaeda and other jihadist outfits were sown. Iran went on to support and train jihadist terrorists, its prestige buoyed by its success in facing down and humiliating the superpower infidels. One of these proxies, later known as Hezbollah, in 1983 murdered with impunity 241 American servicemen and 17 diplomatic personnel in Beirut.

Other, less costly conflicts have followed the same pattern: interventions followed by failures caused by misguided strategies such as democracy promotion in nations lacking the cultural infrastructure for liberal democracy, as in Iraq and Afghanistan; or the pursuit of humanitarian or “peacekeeping” aims on the cheap, as in Beirut in 1983, Mogadishu in 1993, Libya in 2011, or Syria today. In each instance, American lives were lost, America ignominiously retreated, allies were abandoned, and the ostensible purpose was not achieved. Nor were our national interests and security enhanced. Today Iraq is a virtual satrap of Iran, Afghanistan is still under siege from the Taliban, Libya became a weapons arsenal for jihadists still trying to kill us, Israel’s northern border is threatened by thousands of missiles, and Syria still has the blood-stained autocrat Bashar al Assad in power. The only material change is that Russia and Iran are now more consequential in the region than we are.

The current hysteria over Trump’s withdraw of a handful of troops from the Syrian-Turkish border is long on charges of “betrayal” and “damaged prestige,” but short on any clearly defined, long-term alternative strategy for achieving an equally ill-defined goal. What strategy would we have followed if Turkey had killed some of those troops had they not been withdrawn?

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