The Washington chattering class is once again stunned that President Trump is keeping a campaign promise. Like moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and building the wall, the president is following through, and Washington elites don’t quite know what to make of it. Remember, it was Nancy Pelosi who told Trump during a meeting in the Oval Office that the border wall was just a campaign promise. Unfortunately, this is the attitude of most elected officials. You say what you have to say to get elected, then you do only what’s popular with your Washington colleagues.
Syria is a real head-scratcher. Not that President Trump is pulling troops out, but that so many want to keep the troops there. We are uninvited guests in a hostile country. Not that we didn’t have a right—even an obligation—to rout ISIS. That mission has largely been accomplished. That’s not to say that ISIS won’t rise again. If they do we should reserve the right to rout them again, but a prolonged presence in a sovereign nation that doesn’t want us there should not even be an option.
The usual Russia conspiracy freaks wasted no time in claiming more collusion with Russia since Syria’s strongman is a Russian ally. It’s not as if Trump hasn’t been tough on Bashar al-Assad. The United States has attacked Assad’s military ten different times since Trump took office. Syria is basically in the midst of a civil war. Our only interest is ISIS and its accumulation of land and power stretching across the Iraqi border. Outside of that we have no business in Syria.
It was President Obama who drew a red line in August of 2013 saying if Assad used chemical weapons against his own people we would retaliate with military action. He did and we didn’t. It wasn’t until Donald Trump became president that we actually punished Assad for chemical weapons attacks. But punishing Assad was never the primary mission. The American-led coalition in Syria, which included the UK, France, Jordan, Turkey, Canada, and Australia, was specifically forged to defeat ISIS, or ISIL, as Obama so puzzlingly called them. That mission has been largely accomplished.
According to The Guardian, ISIS has lost over 95 percent of the territory it held before the coalition was launched against it. The coalition has started to unravel. The Kurds have been the principal fighters on the ground against ISIS. Turkey attacked Kurdish militants in northwestern Syria. We did nothing to intervene. It’s becoming clear that, like most disputes in the Middle East, Syria is far more complicated than simply backing the good guys against the bad guys.
The Kurds have been staunch allies of the United States, but only because they want their own country carved out of sections of Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria. The U.S. failing to come to their aid against the Turks indicates that’s not going to happen anytime soon.
Many of the Democrats who supported military action in Syria only did so because it was a Democrat president who wanted it. Many Republicans were opposed for the same reason. Now it’s as if everyone wanted to fight Assad all along, even though that was never the mission. President Trump seems to be the only one who remembers the mission, and now everyone in Washington is against him because his name is Donald Trump.
Thank God for people like Sen. Rand Paul. He was against military intervention in 2013 and he’s against it now. Not that he’s necessarily right. He’s just consistent, something sorely missing in Washington these days.