In March of 2018, US president Donald Trump promised “we’ll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon.” That December, he issued an order to begin withdrawing US troops. Apparently, the order never got executed. Most of a year later, US forces remain.
Now Trump and his opponents are arguing over his decision to move a few dozen of those troops around within Syria, to get them out of the way of a Turkish invasion force massing on the border. Both sides are pretending that a tiny troop movement constitutes the supposed withdrawal he ordered last December.
This minor situation illustrates a major problem that two early presidents warned us about.
“It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world,” George Washington said in his farewell address.
Four years later, Thomas Jefferson called for “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none” in his inaugural address.
I wonder what Washington and Jefferson would think of the continued presence of US troops in Europe and Japan 75 years after the end of World War Two, or in South Korea 66 years after the ceasefire on that peninsula?
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