On Trump’s Syrian Pullout

Daniel Falcone: As an expert on American foreign policy what is the true meaning and significance of Trump pulling ground troops out of Syria? Is it this simple and straightforward? What are the implications of Mattis stepping down in your view?

Richard Falk: Of course, with Trump we never know either the real motivation for an abrupt decision of this sort or whether in the next day or so it might be reversed in an equally abrupt manner. It all depends on how the winds of his imperial ego are blowing. And this is not a reassuring awareness in the nuclear age.

We do know that such an inflammatory decision shifts attention away, at least briefly, from the Mueller developments that seem more threatening to Trump’s comfort zone day by day. Beyond these explanations, Trump can accurately claim that he is fulfilling one of his most emphatic pledges of his 2016 presidential campaign, namely, offering scathing criticism of costly interventions in the Middle East as the basis for his commitment to bring American troops home very soon. Such a pledge made a great deal of sense as the American experience with military interventions was a record of unacknowledged failure with a learning curve that hovered around zero.

The unprovoked attack on Iraq in 2003 followed by a prolonged occupation was a flagrant violation of the prohibition on aggressive war, the core principle of the UN Charter and modern international law. It was also the cause of massive suffering and devastation,…

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