We can’t escape from the Mideast

The Week (US) - - News - Dominic Tier­ney


“The U.S. isn’t re­ally leav­ing Syria and Afghanistan,” said Dominic Tier­ney. Pres­i­dent Trump re­cently trig­gered a po­lit­i­cal furor by or­der­ing the with­drawal of all 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria and half of the 14,000 U.S. sol­diers in Afghanistan. Na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser John Bolton has al­ready re­vised his boss’s an­nounce­ment by say­ing our troops will leave only when ISIS is de­feated, but the truth is that in a part of the world de­fined by “com­plex civil wars and coun­tert­er­ror­ism op­er­a­tions,” the U.S. “never re­ally leaves.” What hap­pens in the Mid­dle East di­rectly af­fects U.S. in­ter­ests, and our re­cent pres­i­dents have all faced the un­avoid­able re­al­ity that full with­drawal means that ter­ror­ist groups flour­ish and rad­i­cal Is­lamists take con­trol of na­tions. Pres­i­dent Obama with­drew U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011, but sent them back in 2014 to com­bat ISIS; af­ter try­ing and fail­ing to de­feat the Tal­iban, he left 10,000 troops in Afghanistan. Trump wants even fewer, but is he “will­ing to see the Tal­iban re­cap­ture Kabul, with peo­ple es­cap­ing from rooftops by he­li­copter?” Even in the un­likely case that Trump does suc­ceed in bring­ing all the troops home, “they will likely re­turn be­fore long.”

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