3 Wars Trump Should End Right Now
It has always been a mystery why the United States would stick its nose in this internal conflict (after striking a nuclear deal with Iran that the Saudis never supported, backing up Riyadh in Yemen may have been seen as some sort of compensation). Yemen is an insignificant player in the Middle East, and U.S. foreign policy in the region will go on as it has regardless of which armed faction happens to sit in Sanaa at any given time. Catering to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is not a good enough reason to taint America’s moral status by getting dragged into the gutter of this man-made humanitarian catastrophe.
The fight against the Islamic State is almost over. The caliphate is gone. Its ranks have been cut down to a few thousand fighters in the Middle Euphrates Valley and along the sparse desert border with Iraq. President Trump wants to withdraw U.S. troops as soon as his generals can report to him that the objective of annihilating ISIS is complete. While Trump has reportedly agreed to maintaining a U.S. troop presence in Syria for the time being, one adviser commented that the president has no intention or desire in keeping American troops in Syria over the long or even medium-term. As one official told Reuters this week, "He’s not going to tolerate several years to a half decade.”
The president should go a big step further. Several years should be out of the question, but so should the remainder of the year. It is simply not the U.S. military's responsibility to perform “stabilization,” a word that connotes a permanent military deployment dangerously skewing the lines towards peace-building and peacekeeping. This is essentially what U.S. troops are doing in the northern Syrian city of Manbij right now, where Americans are riding in combat vehicles and constructing checkpoints to keep Syrian Kurdish factions and Turkish troops from going to war with one another. The longer the United States is in Syria, the greater the likelihood Washington will conduct missions that are completely tangential to the original task at hand. The solution to Syria’s political fissures are in the hands of Syrians and Syria’s neighbors, not a foreign power like the United States.
Daniel R. DePetris is a world affairs columnist for Reuters, a frequent contributor to the American Conservative and the National Interest, and a foreign-policy analyst based in New York, NY.