Syria and Our Foreign Policy Muddle

As usual, Bruce Thornton takes the nation to school, outlining current realities by using recent historical facts — this time about our foreign policy muddle. If you read one article on Trump’s Syria withdrawal, this should be it.

Waiting for history to make our decisions is a dangerous strategy.

Donald Trump’s decision to pull ground troops out of Syria, followed hard by Defense Secretary Mattis’ resignation effective January 1, has sparked the usual complaints about the unpredictable, shoot-from-the-hip president. And as usual, the most important issue underlying the debate over his decision is ignored––our failure to settle on a coherent, long-term foreign policy strategy.

Apart from the by now reflexive NeverTrump harrumphing, more sober commentators have made serious arguments both for staying and for leaving. The most compelling of the former are the risks of ceding more regional influence to Russia and Iran. Both of these rivals are solidifying their presence in the region, and neither is that serious about destroying ISIS, which still boasts thousands of jihadists intent on wreaking havoc on Western infidels. The terrorist gang Hezbollah, for forty years Iran’s creature, likewise will continue to control territory from which it threatens Israel with missiles supplied via the Iranian Quds Force personnel stationed in Syria. And our allies the Kurds, who have been stalwart warriors against ISIS, will be left hanging, vulnerable to the aggression of Islamist Turkey, which likewise does not consider ISIS a threat to eliminate.

The proponents of withdrawal also have arguments that must be taken seriously. Our strategic aims in Syria have been all over the place the past several years––supporting “moderate” rebels fighting to overthrow the Assad regime; enforcing with noisy, carefully calibrated cruise-missile strikes international sanctions against the use of chemical weapons; and ameliorating the growing “refugee” disaster spilling into Europe. Finishing off ISIS does not seem feasible with the current strategy and low level of troops. And our air power in the region, assuming it remains, along with ground forces in Iraq, can be quickly mobilized to answer any threat to our interests and security on the part of Russia or Iran.

Read more: Front Page Mag

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