What follows is an abridged version of the single best summation of America’s withdrawal from Syria you will read. It was written by Christopher Preble and Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute, and originally published in the National Interest. Young Research & Publishing has been a strong supporter of both Chris and Doug since 2010. They wrote:
Withdrawal The many problems with U.S. intervention in Syria began with an extraordinarily ambitious, and ultimately irreconcilable, set of goals. U.S. officials wanted to take advantage of the Arab Spring reform movements that erupted in early 2011 to oust Bashar al-Assad’s regime, while also thwarting Russian and Iranian ambitions in Syria and beyond. Both the Obama and Trump administrations relied on some violent extremists to defeat other radical groups, especially the Islamic State, which sought to establish its so-called Caliphate.
The U.S. mission in Syria does not advance a vital U.S. national-security objective; the threat from ISIS has always been overblown, and claims that a few hundred—or even a few thousand—U.S. ground troops are all that stand between the group and a global resurgence defy all logic.
Even more unrealistic is the notion that the United States can transform the Syrian political order, or that a few thousand troops give us much leverage over the process.
Washington should be reducing its permanent overseas presence and expecting local forces to secure their own interests.
Going forward, U.S. officials should choose allies more carefully and drop former friends when circumstances change. Additionally, NATO needs a process for expelling members no longer committed to the alliance’s common purpose. In any case, the United States should avoid making conflicting commitments to multiple allies.
Even more important, Washington should choose its fights more carefully. Not every problem is America’s to solve, and not every problem can be solved by U.S. military power. Policymakers should commit U.S. forces to wage war only when vital interests are stake, the mission is clear, and the objectives are attainable. The Syrian escapade never met any of these criteria.
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