What vital interest is served by American military involvement in Idlib, Syria? As Pat Buchanan explains at The American Conservative, none. An intervention in Syria against the Russians would be a step backward for a president who won by running on a platform outlining less foreign intervention by American forces. Pat writes (abridged):
Is President Donald Trump about to intervene militarily in the Syrian civil war? For that is what he and his advisors seem to be signaling.
In a front-page story Monday, “Assad is Planning Chlorine Attack, U.S. Says,” the Wall Street Journal reported that, during a recent meeting, “President Trump threatened to conduct a massive attack against Mr. Assad if he carries out a massacre in Idlib.”
Idlib contains three million civilians and refugees and 70,000 rebels, 10,000 of whom are al-Qaeda.
Friday, the Washington Post reported that Trump is changing U.S. policy. America will not be leaving Syria any time soon.
The 2,200 U.S. troops in Syria will remain until we see “the exit of all Iranian military and proxy forces and the establishment of a stable, non-threatening government acceptable to all Syrians.”
Is Trump ready to order American action against Russian and Syrian forces if Assad gives his army the green light to take Idlib? For the bombing of Idlib has already begun.
What makes this more than an academic exercise is that Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, at a meeting in Tehran last Friday, told President Erdogan of Turkey that the reconquest of Idlib is going forward.
Erdogan fears that the Syrian army’s recapture of Idlib would send hundreds of thousands more refugees streaming to his border. Turkey already hosts millions of refugees from Syria’s civil war.
Yet the massing of the Syrian army near Idlib and the Russian and Syrian bombing suggest that the Assad-Putin-Rouhani coalition has decided to accept the risk of a clash with the Americans in order to bring an end to the rebellion. If so, this puts the ball in America’s court.
Words and warnings aside, is Trump prepared to take us into the Syrian civil war against forces who, absent our intervention, will have won the war? When did Congress authorize a new war?
What vital U.S. interest is imperiled in Idlib, or in ensuring that all Iranian forces and Shiite allies are removed, or that a “non-threatening government acceptable to all Syrians and the international community” is established in Damascus?
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