On December 30th, Senator Lindsey Graham said that US President Donald Trump is switching to a withdrawal from Syria that is “slow” and “smart.”
Following a White House meeting, the Senator said that Trump hadn’t vowed to reconsider the withdrawal completely, however he would reevaluate the plan to immediately withdraw and rather do it slowly, so that to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS, deterrence of Iran and protection of the US-backed Kurdish militias.
President @realDonaldTrump is talking with our commanders and working with our allies to make sure these three objectives are met as we implement the withdrawal. (3/3)
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) December 30, 2018
CNN cited the Graham:
“After discussions with the President and (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph) Dunford, I never felt better about where we are headed. I think we’re slowing things down in a smart way. But the goal has always been the same. To be able to leave Syria and make sure ISIS never comes back.”
“I think we’re in a pause situation where we are reevaluating what’s the best way to achieve the President’s objective of having people pay more and do more,” he also said.
He said that the POTUS had not reversed his decision of withdrawal. “He has not reversed his decision” to withdraw troops from Syria, Graham said. “The pause is to assess the effects of the conditions on the ground.”
According to Graham, during Trump’s surprise visit to Iraq on December 26th, the troops there told him that ISIS is “not completely destroyed.” The President reportedly said that it was an “eye-opening experience for him,” which appears to be the cause for the decision to slow-down.
“The President assured me he is going to make sure he gets the job done, and I assured him that nobody has done more to defeat ISIS than he has. We are inside the 10-yard line,” Graham said.
Graham strongly criticized Trump’s December 19th decision of a withdrawal from Syria, however following the lunch he expressed his optimism regarding the situation.
“I feel better about Syria than I felt before I had lunch. The President is taking this really seriously. The trip to Iraq was well timed,” he said.
This reinforces the reasonable version of the US withdrawal from Syria, which many believed would not mean the absence of US military personnel in the country.
According to an article in the American Conservative, named “Trump Scores, Breaks Generals’ 50-Year War Record,” authored by Gareth Porter, the POTUS fought an entire year with his national security team prior to announcing the US withdrawal from Syria.
Published reports of the policy process over the past year “show that senior national security officials and self-interested institutions have been playing a complicated political game for months aimed at keeping Trump from wavering on our indefinite presence on the ground in Syria. The entire episode thus represents a new variant of a familiar pattern dating back to Vietnam in which national security advisors put pressure on reluctant presidents to go along with existing or proposed military deployments in a war zone. The difference here is that Trump, by publicly choosing a different policy, has blown up their transparent schemes and offered the country a new course, one that does not involve a permanent war state.”
“The Syria withdrawal affair is a dramatic illustration of the fundamental quandary of the Trump presidency in regard to ending the state of permanent war that previous administrations created. Although a solid majority of Americans want to rein in U.S. military deployments in the Middle East and Africa, Trump’s national security team is committed to doing the opposite,” Porter concludes. “Trump is now well aware that it is virtually impossible to carry out the foreign policy that he wants without advisors who are committed to the same objective. That means that he must find people who have remained outside the system during the permanent war years while being highly critical of its whole ideology and culture. If he can fill key positions with truly dissident figures, the last two years of this term in office could decisively clip the wings of the bureaucrats and generals who have created the permanent war state we find ourselves in today.”
Despite Trump’s opposition of the hawks, the Pentagon doesn’t appear to be letting in. A part of this is Reuters’ report that US commanders want the Kurdish fighters in Syria to keep the Pentagon-supplied weapons. This would, in turn, likely require “specialists” to train them in using the weapons, which would lead to an indefinite presence of some US personnel.