Ethics & Public Policy Center

Trump Is Wrong to Pull Troops From Syria. He’s Right That the United States Is Overextended.

Published in The Washington Post on October 8, 2019

President Trump is wrong to precipitously withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria. That doesn’t mean he’s wrong about his overall point that the United States is involved in too many conflicts that are peripheral to our national security.

Trump’s withdrawal is wrong for all the reasons the foreign policy establishment says it is. The United States should not abandon allies such as the Kurds, especially when that ally has done the bulk of the hard and costly ground war against the Islamic State. We have an interest in keeping Iran and Russia from using Syria as a forward base from which they can destabilize friendly regimes across the Middle East and threaten Israel directly. Without some U.S. military presence in that area, the Islamic State or another radical Islamist organization could rise and again seize territory to launch terrorist attacks against the West. Withdrawing troops with neither warning nor planning does nothing to strengthen U.S. security and a lot to weaken it.

None of that means the establishment’s preferred foreign policy is optimal. In reality, the United States is committed to a global military and alliance structure that is proving increasingly difficult to manage or finance.

Click here to read the rest of this piece at the Washington Post’s website.

Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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