Foreign policy interventionism tends to unite both the Democratic and Republican Party establishment. The Syrian conflict is no exception to this trend. After announcing his move to remove American troops in northern Syria on October 13, 2019, Trump received tremendous backlash from both sides of the political aisle.
In an almost simultaneous matter, Trump’s 2016 election opponent Hillary Clinton and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley criticized Trump’s decision to withdraw American forces from northeastern Syria. Many believe that this move would have left the Kurds stranded and at the mercy of Turkish forces. However, the Kurds are now in negotiations with the Syrian government to receive protection.
Clinton tweeted, “Let us be clear: The president has sided with authoritarian leaders of Turkey and Russia over our loyal allies and America’s own interests. His decision is a sickening betrayal both of the Kurds and his oath of office.”
Haley echoed similar sentiments, calling Trump’s decision “a big mistake.”
She added, “We must always have the backs of our allies if we expect them to have our back. The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake.”
In defense of Trump, he has stood his ground with this troop withdrawal. The sad part is that D.C. is still stuck in its interventionist ways. The coalescence of Hilary Clinton and Nikki Haley on this issue demonstrates that war is very much popular among both political parties. From an institutional standpoint, it makes sense given the military-industrial complex’s chokehold over both parties. Because of this, it makes it difficult for dissenting voices to offer a non-interventionist alternative to nation-building.
America has already spent $1 trillion in each of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Not to mention, the number of American soldiers lost in both of these conflicts, which is estimated to be around 6,951.
What makes the hawks in D.C. think that another prolonged foreign adventure in Syria will be any different?
After nearly two decades of global democratic crusades, America must consider a different way of handling foreign affairs. It will need to start turning towards tough diplomacy and building coalitions and alliances with countries that enhance its interests.
Putting blood and treasure on the line in conflicts with no real timetable nor end in sight is not sustainable. These regime change schemes will accelerate the U.S. government’s already dubious financial standing and create new enemies in the process.