In the latter half of December, President Trump announced the withdrawal of all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria along with an additional withdrawal of 7,000 troops (a 50% reduction) from Afghanistan. Originally, Trump gave the military thirty days to remove troops from Syria, but now has extended the deadline to four months. One would think this news would have brought a tremendous amount of holiday cheer, but folks of blue and red persuasions have been lambasting Trump over the decision.
I do not pretend to have an expert grasp the political situation in Syria. (Here is a brief synopsis of the current situation in Syria). But along with groups like World Beyond War, I want to pressure President Trump to follow through with his plan for troop withdrawal. I have two reasons for this beyond the specific situation in Syria. First, I am a pacifist and do not believe in redemptive killing. Second, I am deeply suspicious of any “altruistic” U.S. intervention in a foreign country (especially a military one). And for this reason, I do not trust the United States to spearhead any intervention a foreign country.
Do I think that Trump has the best interests of the Syrian people at heart? Of course not. But I also know that the situation in Syria has not improved with US intervention in Syria. As reported in the Intercept, the previous few weeks have seen U.S. forces intentionally bomb a hospital, as well as “heavily trafficked open-air markets and other civilian areas.” The reasoning for these actions is always the alleged presence of ISIS militants, but the result is always uncounted civilian deaths.
If Trump follows through with his troop withdrawals, will I start to voluntarily pay my federal income taxes? No. The United States is still in a state of endless war. The harm caused by our military and its weapons here and abroad will only be slightly diminished by the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. There is so much more that needs to be done to put an end to U.S. militarism.
Whether Trump will actually withdraw troops is far from certain. He has shown during his presidency a propensity to change his mind… often at the behest of conservative pundits. And as Fox News hosts have loudly criticized Trump’s decision for troop withdrawal, no one knows how this situation will resolve itself. In addition, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton recently made comments while visiting Israel that U.S. troops will not leave Syria without some guarantees (e.g., a pledge from Turkey not to attack Kurdish allies). If this reflects a shift in Trump’s thinking, troops could stay indefinitely.
As to Trump’s exact reasoning for troop withdrawals, it could be please Russian President Vladimir Putin, obscure news coverage of Mueller probe, or something we cannot even guess. Nevertheless, as Retired Army General Stanley McChrystal states: “If you pull American influence out… it’ll be much more difficult for the United States to try to push events in any direction.” Although McChrystal means this to be negative, I view less U.S. influence as a positive.
— Post by Lincoln Rice