A wise decision is greeted by denunciations, obstructionism, imperial thinking, and more Russia-bashing.
President Trump was wrong in asserting that the United States destroyed the Islamic State’s territorial statehood in a large part of Syria—Russia and its allies accomplished that—but he is right in proposing to withdraw some 2,000 American forces from that tragically war-ravaged country. The small American contingent serves no positive combat or strategic purpose unless it is to thwart the Russian-led peace negotiations now underway or to serve as a beachhead for a US war against Iran. Still worse, its presence represents a constant risk that American military personnel could be killed by Russian forces also operating in that relatively small area, thereby turning the new Cold War into a very hot conflict, even if inadvertently. Whether or not Trump understood this danger, his decision, if actually implemented—it is being fiercely resisted in Washington—will make US-Russian relations, and thus the world, somewhat safer.
Nonetheless, Trump’s decision on Syria, coupled with his order to reduce US forces in Afghanistan by half, has been “condemned,” as The New York Times approvingly reported, “across the ideological spectrum,” by “the left and right.” Analyzing these condemnations, particularly in the opinion-shaping New York Times and Washington Post and on interminable (and substantially uninformed) MSNBC and CNN segments, again reveals the alarming thinking that is deeply embedded in the US bipartisan policy-media establishment.
First, no foreign-policy initiative undertaken by President Trump, however wise it may be in regard to US national interests, will be accepted by that establishment. Any prominent political figure who does so will promptly and falsely be branded, in the malign spirit of Russiagate, as “pro-Putin,” or, as was Senator Rand Paul, arguably the only foreign-policy statesman in the senate today, “an isolationist.” This is unprecedented in modern American history.
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