This just goes to show what a courageous, principled and common-sense move by Trump this is -- finally!!
President Donald Trump’s decision to declare ISIS defeated and order a full US withdrawal from Syria has been met with anger and disbelief by the Washington establishment that hoped for regime change in Damascus.
Trump declared victory over Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) on Wednesday morning, as media reported that some 2,000 or so US troops will leave Syria within 60 to 100 days. Though Trump had openly spoken about wanting to leave Syria back in March, senior officials in his administration have said that US forces would stay there indefinitely.
CNN’s Jake Tapper reacted to the announcement by quoting an anonymous Pentagon official who saw it as a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Hillary Clinton’s former foreign policy adviser Jesse Lehrich bemoaned that the withdrawal would embolden Syrian President Bashar Assad and strengthen Russia and Iran, while leaving the US-allied Kurdish militias “once again hung out to dry.”
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), known as a foreign policy hawk, also disagreed with a withdrawal, calling it a “colossal”mistake and a “grave error that's going to have significant repercussions in the years and months to come.”
Rubio echoed Lehrich’s assessment that the US withdrawal would turn Syria over to Russia and Iran, adding that it might lead to another conflict between Israel and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, and lend strength to the (hypothetical) argument by Russia and China that Washington is an “unreliable ally.”
Another foreign policy hawk, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said the pullout would be “a huge Obama-like mistake,” enabling the revival of IS and putting the Kurds at risk.
The Atlantic Council’s resident Syria expert, Faysal Itani, was likewise glum in his predictions.
“I expect ISIS will be back in some form within a year, and expelling Iran from Syria will not be achieved if the US is not in Syria at all,” he told the UAE-based The National, adding that a more likely outcome would be “a possible military confrontation between Turkey and the Kurds, at least in the border area, if Russia allows that.”
The Washington Post’s foreign policy editor Jackson Diehl wondered how Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton felt about the withdrawal, given his recent statements about the US staying in Syria as long as any Iranian-backed forces were there, meaning indefinitely.
Critics of the US involvement in Syria, however, cheered on the news of the withdrawal, pointing out that the real mistake was Washington getting involved in the attempt to overthrow the government in Damascus in the first place.
One satirical news site perhaps put it best, "reporting" that both the left and the right were taking aim at Trump for "breaking with the longstanding American tradition of remaining in Middle Eastern countries indefinitely."
Trump’s Syria Pullout Fuels Backlash Across DC
by Jason Ditz
President Trump’s announcement of an immediate withdrawal of US forcesfrom Syria seems to have taken a lot of people by surprise. Such big news is fueling both a predictable backlash from hawks, and angry criticism from political rivals who are portraying the announcement as a reckless shift from the open-ended military engagement everyone was expecting.
Trump presented the move as a natural response to he defeat of ISIS, which is leading a lot of hawks to deny that ISIS is really defeated. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) compared this to the 2011 withdrawal from Iraq, and said Congress must make Trump explain the policy.
Still, since the war has been spun as being sort of about Iran, analysts are still predicting anger among Iran hawks, both in the cabinet and in the party leadership. Charles Lister from the Middle East Institute said it might plant the seeds for rebellion among Republicans to not be in the war.
Hillary Clinton advisers said the move would “strengthen Russia,” and CNN’s Jake Tapper quoted an unnamed Pentagon official calling the end of the war a Russian victory. Yet Russia has also been very public in drawing down its own war effort.
Indeed CNN was broadly critical in its coverage of the move out of Syria, generally focusing on liberal opposition to the change. The opposition appeared primarily built around it being a Trump policy.
MSNBC was also critical in its coverage, quoting former CIA Director John Brennan and multiple analysts reiterating the narrative that underpins the long-term presence in Syria which the rest of the administration had been parroting up until today.
The Pentagon had been positioning the US for a permanent presence in Syria, coming up with additional military goals beyond the defeat of ISIS, centering on demanding all Shi’ite militias leave Syria, and ensuring ISIS-like groups never reemerge at any point in the future.
While unachievable goals make for a permanent war, it would be difficult to justify this with the Syrian government not authorizing the US presence, and the US no longer demanding regime change.
Still, the Pentagon’s focus now is shifting away from those secondary goals they invented, and now they’re simply arguing that ISIS is not defeated, and that the war is not over. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) claimed this was a function of “arbitrary political deadlines.”
Yet there doesn’t appear to have ever been a public deadline. Trump, rather, has long expressed interest in ending the war, and it’s only been intense pressure that’s kept him from doing so before now.
Whether it’s Iran or Russia that’s the excuse, a number of senators seem to be lining up to issue brief statements opposing the end of the war. It seems after so many years of war, many believe this will be the safer position to take.