White House Announces Its Decision on Syrian Policy

Over the past few days President Trump…surprise, surprise…has expressed a desire to end US involvement in Syria. Last week, he told a rally in Ohio that troops in Syria would be coming home very soon:

He expressed frustration yesterday with US involvement in Syria and again voiced the opinion that ISIS was done and we were finished. At the same time, members of his national security team were emphasizing the fact that ISIS was not yet done.

So, this morning, when DNI Dan Coats announced that a decision had been reached, there was heavy anticipation that a withdrawal would be ordered:

Now the policy has been announced:

A few thoughts here.

First, ISIS is an excuse for us to be in Syria, not a reason. Iran is the reason.

Second, given the major changes underway in Saudi Arabia, the worst thing we could do would be to leave Syria right now and make KSA feel like we’d abandoned them again.

Third, if you want to kick off a regional war, leaving Syria is the way to go about it.

Fourth, Trump wants to leave, his national security team doesn’t. The impulse to stay is going to get even stronger with Pompeo at State and Bolton at NSC. The question is who wins this pushing match in the long run.

But today, for right now, we’ve dodged the bullet.