- President Trump says he's determined to withdraw American soldiers from "endless wars."
- Opponents attacked the decision for its repercussions on US allies in the region, mainly the Kurds.
- Trump defends the withdrawal as a necessary action to end US involvement in a war we shouldn't be fighting.
President Trump’s decision earlier this month to withdraw approximately 1,000 US troops from Syria has been attacked from both sides of the aisle. Both Democrats and Republicans alike have criticized the decision on the basis that it is unfair to the Kurds, an Iranian ethnic group and ally of the United States. The argument centers on the fact that a US withdrawal puts the Kurds at risk, specifically from Turkey, who has vocally threatened violence against the Kurdish fighters, who they consider to be terrorists.
The President’s actions have, however, received some support from his base. One of Trump’s most well received campaign promises, relating to his America First policy, was a total US withdrawal from the Middle East region. Many of the president’s supporters have felt dissatisfied with the delays, setbacks, and policy reversals surrounding a Middle East withdrawal. In December the president announced a troop withdrawal from Syria, but the withdrawal fell short of what many of the President’s supporters had hoped. Trump’s most recent withdrawal announcement has sparked hope in many that the War on Terror may finally be coming to a close.
The President defended his actions to reporters saying, “Where is the agreement that says we have to stay in the Middle East for the rest of humanity? For the rest of civilization, to protect the Kurds? We’ve taken very good care of them… We’re bringing our troops back home. I got elected by bringing our troops back home.” Trump went on to say, “I’m trying to get out of wars, we may have to get in wars—we’re better prepared than we’ve ever been.” He also expressed a belief that the Kurds are “going to be safe.”
There will likely never be a “good” time to leave the Middle East, and we cannot continue to fight an endless war. There are US allies in the Middle East such as Israel and the Kurds that can hopefully be supported with funding and technology. However, maintaining a military force in the region indefinitely, or at least for the foreseeable future, to many, does not seem like a realistic option.
Last week President Trump threatened to “destroy” the Turkish economy if they did not cease their aggression against the Kurds. Economic sanctions against hostile nations is a much more sustainable option than a constant military presence.
Pulling out of the Middle East is a complex issue with many consequences, but the question really comes down to “if not now, when?” The US military has become a police force for the region. A US pullout will likely create a power vacuum in the region and may leave our allies vulnerable, but the alternative is a never ending war.