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“President Donald Trump’s “rapid” and “full” withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria appears to be in doubt after a week of rebukes from his fellow Republicans, U.S. military leaders, the United Nations and recently even his own admission.
Trump’s December announcement to pull out the 2,000 or so troops came as a big surprise to the Pentagon (his defense secretary quit in protest), to Israel and to the U.S. Senate – which is traditionally consulted or at the very least briefed before such decisions.
So it was equally surprising when Trump told Margaret Brennan on CBS television’s “Face The Nation” last Sunday: “We’ll come back if we have to. We have very fast airplanes, we have very good cargo planes. We can come back very quickly, and I’m not leaving. We have a base in Iraq and the base is a fantastic edifice.”
Trump spoke in a long, often incoherent interview in which he also vowed to keep U.S. troops in Iraq to “watch Iran,” adding that military intervention was still an option in Venezuela. The interview was the opening shot in a week of contradictory statements from the president on the issue.
On Monday, the Republican-led Senate passed legislation to go on the record opposing Trump’s planned withdrawal and any future plans for an abrupt withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan. The rebuke may be the biggest foreign-policy schism between the Republican leadership in the Senate and Trump thus far in his presidency.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell championed the legislation himself, which was passed as part of a larger bill. On Tuesday, he sat with hands folded when Trump declared in the State of the Union Address that “great nations do not fight endless wars,” later adding that it was time to give our “brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home.””
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"Political leaders from all French parties, including former presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, joined Jews and non-Jews in Paris’s Place de la Republique to condemn antisemitic acts."
"Eighty years ago tonight, thousands of Americans gathered in New York to rally behind the Nazi Party and its ideals. An Oscar-nominated short documentary retrieves footage of the event, but leaves out the context that gives it meaning."
"The PM has persuaded the religious-Zionist Jewish Home to partner with the Kahanists of Otzma Yehudit. It makes cynical political sense for his interests, but what of Israel’s?"
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"Making our choices count is, however, far from straightforward, and this is the subject of Martin Hägglund’s book This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom."
"Teens in the United States are coming of age at a time when digital technology is truly ubiquitous, where smartphones are all of our “constant companions.”"
"...the Smollett story, if the “trajectory” leads to evidence of fakery, would actually reveal something else modern America is about: victimhood chic."
"Cool in the humanities isn’t that different from cool in other areas of cultural life, like planking, hotdog-legs photography, mason jar rehabilitation, and novels whose main character is a city."
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"Cape Town in South Africa is a foodie destination. Some people in its renowned restaurant industry are trying to spread the food wealth citywide."
"...for many “space expansionists,” escaping Earth is about much more than dodging the bullet of extinction: it’s about realizing astronomical amounts of value by exploiting the universe’s vast resources to create something resembling utopia. "
"After facing persecution in the former Soviet Union and a new wave of antisemitism in the United States, Marya Zilberberg decides to put her Jewishness on display."