Trump may have had no other choice but to pull troops out of Syria
Members of Congress who want to “overturn” President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria are engaging in an absurd performance of political theater.
Many lawmakers, both Republican and Democrat, have been critical of Trump’s decision to abandon Kurdish separatists in Syria. Their army, in Iraq as well as Syria, has been America’s most staunch, effective ally in the war against terrorism.
But the Kurds are viewed by Turkey as a dangerous force seeking to take part of that country in order to form a Kurdish nation. One cannot blame the Turks for resisting such an outcome.
Last week, Turkish forces invaded northern Syria in a bid to drive the Kurds out of that area. The assault was preceded by a pullout of about 50 U.S. advisers with the Kurdish forces. Now, Trump is ordering the withdrawal of all American troops in Syria. There are about 1,000 of them.
Critics are unhappy that the Kurds are being abandoned. They also worry the Turkish assault may give ISIS terrorists a new lease on life. There are reasons to view that concern as legitimate.
But during the weekend, Defense Secretary Michael Esper said the United States had little or no option but to withdraw the 50 or so advisers.
They had served as a sort of “trip line” against a Turkish attack on the Kurds. The presence of Americans there — and in other areas of the world — was seen as a deterrent against Turkey.
But Esper said Turkish officials had vowed prior to their invasion that it would go ahead even if the Americans were present among Kurdish forces. A trip line only works if the opponent worries about killing Americans in going over it.
Apparently, Turkish officials were willing to take that risk.
Trump may have done the only thing he could — withdrawing U.S. troops whose presence would not have prevented the Turkish incursion.
Now, led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, some in Congress want to reverse the president’s decision.
Whether Trump was right or not, it is too late to alter the situation. Re-inserting U.S. troops would only expose them to danger needlessly. Instead of engaging in political theater, Pelosi and company should work with the White House in an effort to curb what damage is occurring.