Trump Right, the House Wrong on Troop Withdrawal in Syria

One thing at a time. Let’s take what we can get. Northern Syria is a start. After 3 years, it’s a start. It’s refreshing to hear talk of moving away from endless wars. A bathtub can be emptied a teaspoon at a time. That’s better than letting the faucet run all the time or turning it up full force. Endless wars aim to keep the tub full with the faucet running and the drain open. The water bill climbs and climbs.

Trump did the right thing: Morally right, legally right, and pragmatically right. His most clearly identifiable moral obligation stems from his duty as president, and this duty includes protecting us Americans and preserving the lives of our armed forces. Withdrawing forces from Syria does exactly this. In the anarchic space in which states operate, they maintain the flexibility to alter policies at will, all the way from informal arrangements to solemn treaty obligations. Morality hardly comes into it. In any event, Trump didn’t order an attack on anyone. Turkey’s attack is its doing, not Trump’s. It is also morally right that Trump take a step, however, limited to fulfill a campaign promise.

It is legally right to withdraw in that the U.S. was not invited into Syria in the first place.

Trump’s pragmatic obligation includes optimizing protection of America given limited resources. It is unwise to undertake highly costly ventures for imperceptible gains. It is unwise for U.S. forces to be inserted as pseudo-peacekeepers when their very presence prevents regional states from making their own deals and reconciling their differences. It is unwise to commit scarce resources to situations that have no clear stopping points due to age-old rivalries and other such local conditions that do not bear on American national security.

Against this background, we have the House by a very one-sided majority condemning his decision:

“The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a resolution opposing the Trump administration’s move to withdraw US forces from Syria. The vote was 354-60 with four members voting present.”

This vote shows that the House members from both parties are captured by both military/intelligence/deep state interests and world government/democracy ideology. Both such elements go against the well-being of America as a whole that Trump stands for. The House members signal that they’d have preferred Hillary Clinton. Her pugnacity was directed at all sorts of foreign enemies, whereas Trump’s is directed at the domestic enemies of an American revival of liberty. It is truly shocking that such a tiny step to diminish the empire should meet with such resistance from the representatives elected by the people. Is endless war really what Americans want? If so, they’ll get it, because the world is filled with endless trouble spots on every continent; and it has several very large nuclear powers as well. Even the “small” trouble spots are incredibly costly for America to get into.

The House resolution adds “an abrupt withdrawal of United States military personnel from certain parts of Northeast Syria is beneficial to adversaries of the United States government, including Syria, Iran, and Russia.”

Trump’s move is not abrupt. It has taken 3 years even to get to the point where he felt he could make such a move. Might it benefit Syria, Iran and Russia? Maybe it will, and maybe it won’t. Even if it does, is the content of foreign policy supposed to be controlled by acting so as to thwart these countries? What if thwarting them requires us to bleed ourselves dry and incur insurmountable debts in doing so? What if these countries intentionally create more trouble spots elsewhere in the world in order to suck us in to expensive traps? What if our gains from withdrawal greatly exceed whatever benefits might accrue to these states?

The House resolution is not a document that provides a sensible basis for staying in Syria.

Americans have paid a price in its war dead and its war wounded in Syria. Kurds have paid a price. Syrians have paid a price, a huge price. Obama is the architect of the American presence in Syria. Trump cannot be blamed for taking the hard but necessary step of disengagement there and ending Obama’s folly.

As a closing note, this emphasis on Russia as Enemy is so pronounced in the thought of people in Congress that it’s going to become a thread in the impeachment sham that the Democrats are conducting. No matter how crazy it is and how little evidence supports it, a lot of people are so imbued with the image of Putin as Enemy that they see connections of Trump and Putin where none of any significance exist. They are going to string together accounts of their spies and informants in the White House to make out as if Trump is betraying national security in his dealings with Putin and Russia. The House resolution is a page out of that book. There is little question that in addition to interests and ideology that drive the anti-Trump and therefore anti-America activities, another component of this entire phenomenon is an emotional appeal to fear of the enemy. The method is a psychological pairing of the Putin symbol with Trump.


7:35 pm on October 16, 2019