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The Potential Consequences of Trump's Impulsive Order to Evacuate Syria

Robert Dimuro

Posted on December 23, 2018 15:41

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A premature withdrawal could lead our troops to be engaged in another war in Syria if the resulting turbulence whips up another ISIS.

On Wednesday, December 19, President Trump announced that all US forces in Syria will be withdrawn in a rapid fashion, marking an abrupt end to a foreign policy Trump has embraced since being sworn into office. The main objective of US involvement in the region was to eradicate ISIS, which we have done territorially. However, it’s equally as important to lay the groundwork for a peaceful and stable Syria moving forward, as small pockets of ISIS fighters are still at large and regional factions still assert their control over Syrian territory.

Recent history indicates that this was a bad decision. When President Obama ordered a complete US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, instability ensued, and sectarian warfare dominated the region, leaving ISIS to fill the void that the US left behind. Fast forward to 2018, and there’s no indication that our abandonment of Syria won’t give rise to the same threats that we just mitigated.

Although this particular decision may prove to be unwise, the inclinations to avoid war whenever possible and bring our troops home as quickly as possible are noble. Many years of indecisive fighting in Korea and Vietnam on questionable bases had wasted many lives and resources. However, US operations in Syria should not be compared to these wars, as relatively few resources and manpower are currently needed in Syria to maintain our objectives there.

In fact, more troops died in the Iraq War than we have currently deployed in Syria - about 2,000. To put this number in perspective, the US Armed Forces (as of the end of 2017) has a total active-duty strength of 1,281,900 service members. In this light, it’s hard to fathom the reasoning behind such an abrupt and hurried move when the potential exists to effect lasting changes that will ensure our permanent departure from the region in the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, even with Trump’s own advisors and top appointments advising him that pulling out of Syria too quickly is dangerous and could undo all the work that has been done there, it’s clear that Trump has drawn a "line in the sand" between eradicating ISIS and investing in Syria's recovery efforts towards peace. As a result, no one in Trump’s administration appears to be happy with his impulsive decision.

The irrationality of the ordered withdrawal was enough to cause the Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, to submit his resignation upon hearing the news. As a universally respected member of Trump’s Cabinet who has spearheaded Trump’s foreign policy initiatives, his resignation is a significant political blow to the President - more so than the departures of Rex Tillerson or Scott Pruitt could ever have been.

Only fringe isolationists, such as Rand Paul, commend the decision, saying on Twitter that he was “happy to see a president who can declare victory and bring our troops out of a war.” Unfortunately, however, this premature withdrawal could lead our troops to be engaged in another war in Syria if the resulting turbulence whips up another ISIS.

Robert Dimuro

Posted on December 23, 2018 15:41

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Source: BBC
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Donald Trump says he will send home all Syrian refugees the US accepts if he becomes president.

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