January 20, 2019

Washington's Knee-Jerk Reaction to the Syria Withdrawal

“In the summer of 2004, we were a year-and-a-half into the war in Iraq and I was a high schooler with a nascent interest in political journalism. I’d started reading news weeklies and I remember being surprised by the suggestion that then-President George W. Bush had not made the right choice in deciding to invade. I liked President Bush and surely, I reasoned, he wouldn’t lead us wrong on something so serious as war.

A decade and a half later, it has become evident that invasion — followed by nearly 16 years of conflict and nation building with no end in sight — was a costly mistake with dangerous ramifications for American security and regional stability in the Middle East. But it’s lessons have been little learned among the Washington foreign policy establishment, which is now in sackcloth and ashes over President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from a similarly ill-advised war in Syria.

Trump himself is convinced his decision would be lauded if it came from any other president and in this case he may be partially correct. There seems to be something of my teenage reasoning operating in reverse here, albeit without the excuse of youth.

Establishment figures like former CIA Director John Brennan, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and arch neoconservative Max Boot have slammed the withdrawal plan in terms targeting Trump personally. Would their opposition look like this under another administration?”

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