The American Interest

Adieu to the “Adults in the Room”

President Donald Trump’s announcement last December 19 that he would immediately withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria (and one-half of the Afghan contingent) is the most important single decision of his presidency.  The mission in Syria had never been about “regime change” in Damascus, or “eliminating Iranian influence,” or establishing Kurdish autonomy.  Two years ago Trump accepted its continuation on the terms set by Obama in 2014: to help the Kurds fight the Islamic State.  That mission has been accomplished; there is nothing “precipitous” about saying so and acting accordingly.

In the first days of the New Year Trump was under intense pressure from Sen. Lindsey Graham, et al., to reverse the decision; but assuming that he does not blink (and thus destroy his presidency), the significance of the withdrawal is twofold.  This is the first time the President has openly defied the “adults” inside his team who have done their utmost to override his noninterventionist, antiglobalist instincts from the moment of his inauguration.  It is also the first time that a foreign-policy decision by Trump, which is demonstrably correct and has been fiercely attacked by the bipartisan establishment, holds the potential to help him win the next election.

By making his announcement on Syria and thus triggering the resignation of Defense Secretary James...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here