On Wednesday, the White House ordered the Pentagon to pull all U.S. troops from Syria immediately. President Trump tweeted: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump presidency,” a stance that immediately received pushback from more interventionist lawmakers. In addition to the decision to pull out of Syria, made last week, a senior Pentagon official suggested that troop reductions in Afghanistan are also under discussion.
Although this might seem like another one of the President’s impulsive decisions, this move should be welcomed. Trump — and his voters — have wanted to leave Syria for a long time, and are finally getting their way.
The administration’s move to get out of Syria, and consider a similar path in Afghanistan, makes mission creep less likely. Given the volatility of the Middle East, there will always be some reason or another to justify a U.S. troop presence in as many countries as possible, whether it is to protect Israel, Saudi Arabia or the Kurds, push back against Iran or Russia, or fight some militant or terrorist group. Some of these goals are definitely worthy, but they can be achieved through diplomacy, surgical strikes, or by working with America’s partners in the region. An expensive, open-ended U.S. troop presence in multiple Middle Eastern countries certainly isn’t necessary to protect our national security objectives.