The news cycle has been a whirlwind the last few weeks. Between the “impeachment inquiry” that isn’t, and quid pro quo that wasn’t, and a recently solved global search to locate Hunter Biden, the media elitists have been busy, and social media has been an absolute tsunami of bullshit.
The latest from the outrage mob is the pearl-clutching disgust over President Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria. Trump critics have repeatedly moaned denounced the decision to “abandon our Kurdish allies”
Richard Engel NBC on the ground in Northern Syria. Trump complicit with Erdogan invasion now brutally unraveling our success against ISIS. Our brave Kurdish allies will be slaughtered by Turkish backed Arab militias. https://t.co/ZsNeox0B1x
— Barry R McCaffrey (@mccaffreyr3) October 13, 2019
Admittedly, when the story broke I was of the opinion that withdrawal was a mistake. I felt that the timing was poor, and it posed a risk to stability.
As time has gone by, however, something about this wasn’t sitting right with me. The left, which has historically been the ideology least likely to favor war is now in a tantrum because we are withdrawing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but something was definitely amiss. It wasn’t simply another case of the left opposing decisions “cuz Trump”. So I had to dig into it.
The issue is more complicated than a petty opposition to the President. To understand fully, we need to break it down a bit.
First, a clarification. Syria is not now, nor have they ever been, an ally of the United States. Turkey, however, has been a member of NATO since 1952. That means that as far as diplomatic treaties go, Turkey is our ally. Additionally, Syria has severed diplomatic relations with Spain,France,UK, Italy,Canada, Germany and Belgium. All of which are NATO signatories.
In contrast, Syria’s closest allies are Iraq and Iran. Essentially, the left is having a tantrum because the President is choosing to adopt a non interference policy between a longtime NATO signatory and a country who’s closest allies have long proliferated terrorism.
This led me to more questions, like why would the left possibly oppose this. To answer this, we need to look at how we wound up in Syria to begin with.
In 2013, President Obama made a pledge to the American people not to land US boots on the ground in Syria. It was a pledge he unfortunately did not keep.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle voiced concerns about the lack of a cohesive strategy or sn endgame for the move. The Hill covered the controversial Obama decision quite well. So, what, other than the administration has changed?
Well, a few things. Fighting in Syria has had a catastrophic rippling effect globally. The tsunami of Syrian refugees has flooded the West.
In 2016 the United Nations estimated 13.5 million Syrians, more than half of the countries population of 21 million, were in need of humanitarian aid. That year the US granted asylum to a record 38,000 Muslims, nearly 13,000 from Syria. Since Trump’s been in office, the number of refugees coming in gas slowed to a trickle due to stringent vetting policies.
The other, much bigger change was the effective scrapping of the “Iran deal”. In 2015, President Obama negotiated his crowning jewel. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. This deal lifted economic sanctions off Iran in exchange for Iran switching over it’s nuclear program from weapons research to power generation. This had the additional benefit of allowing Obama to authorize the late night runway transfer of 400 million dollars in cash to Iran, which, under the tough economic sanctions, had been illegal. Despite whatever good intentions were displayed at the deal signing, Iran soon was violating the terms of the agreement, as reported here by the NYT. President Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in May of 2018.
It seems to me that the withdrawal from Syria is fairly consistent for the Trump White House. The President has made it his mission to dismantle the problematic pieces of the Obama legacy, and this latest move strikes a two fisted blow at that. He is withdrawing the troops that rightly had no place there, and increasing pressure on Iran.
The decision also strikes favor in the more isolationist leaning voters. We should not be using force to interfere with NATO partners, and further, this situation is precisely why we have a United Nations.
We no longer need to serve as the global police force.
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