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Time for President Trump to Clean Foreign Policy House

January 27, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

President Donald Trump rediscovered his core foreign policy
beliefs and ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria.
Official Washington had a collective mental breakdown.

The president’s decision should have surprised no one. He long
said he wanted U.S. personnel out of Syria. Once the Islamic State
was defeated, he explained, Americans should come home.

However, the “adult” foreign policy advisers the
president surrounded himself with disagreed with him on almost
every issue. Worse, his aides played him at every turn—adding
allies, sending more men and materiel to defend foreign states, and
expanding commitments in the Middle East.

Changing policy in Syria
should merely be the start. He needs to fill his administration
with allies, not adversaries, when it comes to foreign
policy.

Last spring the president talked of leaving Syria “very
soon.” But the American military stayed. Indeed, three months
ago National Security Adviser John Bolton announced an entirely new
mission: “We’re not going to leave as long as Iranian
troops are outside Iranian borders and that includes Iranian
proxies and militias.”

That was chutzpah on a breathtaking scale. The U.S. is entitled
to invade and dismember nations, back aggressive wars begun by
others, and scatter bases and deployments around the world. But
Washington insists on preventing Iran from supporting a long-time
ally under attack by radical Islamists in a multi-sided civil war.
To achieve this objective the U.S. plans to illegally occupy a
third of the war-torn nation indefinitely.

Since Damascus and Tehran have no incentive to cease
cooperating—indeed, America’s presence makes outside
support even more important for the Assad regime—Bolton was
effectively planning a permanent presence. One that could bring
American forces into contact with Russian, Syrian, and Turkish
forces as well as Iranians.

Damacus’ attempt to reclaim territory lost in the civil
war could turn into a major confrontation: Syria is backed by
Russia and might be supported by Ankara, which would prefer to see
the border controlled by Syrian than Kurdish forces. Moreover,
Kurds under threat from Turkey might cut a deal with Assad that
minimizes the Turkish threat.

Apparently his aides’ insubordination came to a head in a
phone call between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan. “Why are you still there?” the latter asked
Trump, who turned to Bolton. The national security adviser could
offer no satisfactory explanation.

Perhaps at that moment the president realized that only a direct
order could enforce his policy. Otherwise his staffers would
continue to pursue their militaristic ends rather than his more
pacific ones.

That determination apparently triggered the long-expected
resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Still in place is
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who so far has proved to be …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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