Withdrawal from Syria? Don’t Bet On It

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

The Wall Street Journal and other outlets are reporting that the U.S. is preparing to withdraw
its forces from Syria:

The U.S. military is preparing to withdraw its forces from Syria, people familiar with the matter said Wednesday, a move that marks an abrupt reversal of the American military strategy in the Middle East.

If this is true and if it actually happens, it will be the first smart thing that the Trump administration has done on foreign policy in two years. Trump has made noises about withdrawal before, and they have amountedto nothing. Administration officials have spent the better part of this year insisting that U.S. forces were remaining in Syria indefinitely, so I will believe that the withdrawal is happening once it is finished. It won’t take much for the president’s arbitrary whims to change again, and he is easily influenced by his hawkish advisers. I assume that the withdrawal still won’t happen because it would mean breaking with the GOP’s Iran hawks on a major issue, and so far he has done whatever they wanted.

The U.S. military presence in Syria is illegal and was never authorized at any point over the last four years. Removing that presence from a country where we have no business being and where we have no interests at stake is long overdue. I hope that U.S. forces are finally extricated from a war that they should never have been involved in, but I’m not holding my breath that it will happen.

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted from The American Conservative with permission.

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