David C. Hendrickson, a professor of political science at Colorado College and the author of Republic in Peril: American Empire and the Liberal Tradition, explain in The American Conservative that it will be difficult for President Trump to fulfill his promise to leave Syria while maintaining pressure on the Iranian regime. He writes (abridged):
Lost in the din of outrage attending President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria is the question of the administration’s larger anti-Iran agenda. The United States has also withdrawn from the JCPOA, President Barack Obama’s nuclear pact with Iran and partner countries, and, listening to his words during Tuesday’s press conference, Trump shows no sign of regretting that imprudent step. In addition, Washington is waging an economic war against Iran that, under the traditional criteria of international law, would be considered an act of war.
With his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, Trump has wounded, perhaps mortally, the neoconservative plan to use the Kurds as a lever against both Turkey and Iran. But don’t believe for a second that the great game is over. Grand pronouncements that Trump’s Syria decision signals a departure from the Middle East are to be viewed with the greatest suspicion. It isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that this retreat by Trump on one anti-Iranian front will be attended in the future with an advance on another.
Trump is most unlikely to break from that consensus. He says “we’re done”; in all probability, we are not done. Trump has announced a withdrawal of forces from Syria, but his administration is still wedded to the breaking of the regime and an economic war on its people. And Syria aside, Trump is still actively engaged on the other anti-Iranian fronts. He will be under intense pressure to show his mettle on that question, and he may think it to his advantage to do so.
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