The Syrian Troop Withdrawal That Wasn’t

Stability operations?

W.J. Astore

After calling for all U.S. troops to be pulled out of Syria, President Trump is now in favor of keeping a “small…stabilizing force” there.  What a shame.  Trump is the ultimate flip-flopper, bowing to the neo-cons and the Washington establishment whenever it’s expedient for him to do so.

What, exactly, is America’s national security interest in Syria?  Trump says these U.S. troops will help to prevent a resurgence of ISIS, but surely Syria, Turkey, Russia, and other countries in the region have more incentive — and far more capability — to keep the Islamic State down and out.  But let’s say the Islamic State did make a comeback in Syria after all U.S. troops left.  In that case, couldn’t U.S. troops just redeploy there?  Why are “boots on the ground” needed in perpetuity in Syria to monitor the dead carcass of ISIS?

Once the U.S. commits troops to a region or country, they seem to linger — and linger.  In rare cases when troops finally are withdrawn and something bad happens, you instantly hear how it’s the fault of those who called for troop withdrawals, as if U.S. troops bring stability wherever they go.

It’s a strange belief.  The U.S. celebrates its troops as warriors, trains them in kinetic operations, outfits them with the most destructive technologies, and then deploys them to bring stability and peace to regions those troops barely understand.  For a different vision of the “stability” American troops bring, one might ask the peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, to name only three recent examples.

It’s high time, America, that we bring the troops home.  Our national defense is not advanced by worldwide troop deployments in the name of “stability.”  Trump once seemed to recognize this, however fleetingly, as a candidate.  As president, however, he’s become yet another pawn of U.S. military interventionists and neo-cons.  As Trump would say, sad.

5 thoughts on “The Syrian Troop Withdrawal That Wasn’t

  1. The only candidate (so far) who’s made ending these wasteful wars and military deployments her main message and platform is Tulsi Gabbard. I just received this campaign message from her today:

    Aloha friend,

    We need to stop wasting money.

    We need money for universal healthcare, to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, to protect our environment, and invest in a green economy.

    We cannot afford to continue wasting trillions of dollars on regime-change wars, a new Cold War, and an arms race. As president, I will put a stop to this waste, and use that money to serve the needs of the American people.

    Without this “peace dividend,” all the promises politicians are making about healthcare, a green economy and social programs will be just that — talk. We won’t be able to afford any of it.

    Join me so that we can ensure quality healthcare for all Americans, combat climate change, rebuild our infrastructure and create a more peaceful, secure world for our families and communities.

    Stand with Tulsi and sign your name.

    This peace dividend is the only way we’ll be able to fund these domestic programs. And that’s why I’m running for president.


    1. Well Gabbard campaign, I like to reward good behavior, so this got me to donate.

      Also sent a note offering critical data analysis support. For whatever that’s worth. But hey, I didn’t spend a decade in academia learning every theory and method I had time to for no reason 🙂


  2. Back in 1969-1970, we had a standing joke at Defense Language Institute (Monterey):

    Question: “If President Nixon is withdrawing the troops from Vietnam, how come I’ve got orders to Vietnam next year?”

    Answer: “You fool. How can Nixon withdraw you from Vietnam unless he sends you there first?”

    Then you have the old Third Reich slogan that the U.S. military adopted as its own after 1945 (appropriately “Americanized”):

    “Wherever the German soldier plants his boot, there he must remain.”

    If asked why he (or she) has killed, maimed, impoverished, and displaced millions, the Imperial soldier, sailor, marine, or airman will typically appear confused by the question and will most likely mumble a tail-chasing, circular tautology in response, something like: “We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here because …”

    Institutionalized Insanity, really. As for President Donald Trump and his all-over-the-place flip-flopping and whiplash-inducing about-faces:

    “When you find yourself up to your ass in alligators, it is sometimes difficult to remember that your initial intention was to drain the swamp.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mike: The U.S. military is not about “stability” — it’s about entropy. Disorder, not order, is its main product. So it seems when you think of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria …


      1. There is a strong case that the US, after failing to subdue Iraq, deliberately chose to foment chaos in the Middle East to prevent the rise of any regional hegemon.

        Failed effort, if that is the case –

        Regardless, the entire history of US military involvement in the Middle East has been an endless series of needless tragedies. Thousands of American soldiers an civilians killed, hundreds of thousands of civilian lives ended, trillions of $ utterly wasted.

        Mad that only one major Democratic candidate is talking about the costs. Apparently “progressives” only care about domestic policy, and those foreigners our tax money kills can go hang. Note that the Sanders-Warren pledge is totally toothless, commits to no specifics.

        I get annoyed that the Baby Boomer generation is positively obsessed with re-fighting the battles of the ’60s. But at least then there was a healthy anti-war movement. People in that generation did more than wave clever signs – they blocked recruiting centers and nuclear materials shipments, they got officers in uniform to chuck medals onto the White House lawn.

        My generation? If you went to college, you are basically trained to love the troops publicly, while also believing they’re idiots who deserve to go to war because they obviously can’t get better jobs. If you didn’t, you probably spent your childhood watching Fox News or CNN anchors having on-air joygasms whenever a cruise missile gets fired, so you think America’s wars are noble bloodless crusades.

        Thank goodness for Tulsi Gabbard. And damn the Democratic party’s un-democratic primary/caucus system, that gives effing Iowa and New Hampshire so much pull, while Oregon votes almost dead last. Even if I switched to the Dems from Working Families, my vote would be irrelevant by then. Same as my electoral college vote.


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