America’s Withdrawal From Syria: Politics of Betrayal in Historical Context

President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw America’s military forces from northeastern Syria and redeploy some of them into Iraq has attracted widespread condemnation. The Economist described his decision as a betrayal to the Kurds that will “blow America’s credibility and will take years to mend.” Yet as straightforward as this claim may seem, the framing of Trump’s decision as a betrayal does not allow for a balanced assessment and realistic interpretation of its motivation. The fact of the matter is the United States has made analogous military withdrawals in comparaable circumstances before when it intervened in areas peripheral to its national interests, such as Syria. In such circumstances, America’s intervention does not serve a clear vital interest and less costly policy options might exist that could still protect America’s peripheral interests without risking long-term attachment to a specific area.

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