In a surprising late-night statement (late for the U.K., anyway), last week the White House declared that American troops will move aside and let Turkey invade Syria. “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” the statement said, adding, “The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”
The statement continued, “The United States Government has pressed France, Germany, and other European nations, from which many captured ISIS fighters came, to take them back, but they did not want them and refused. The United States will not hold them for what could be many years and great cost to the United States taxpayer.”
Even though I am a conservative foreign policy realist, my research deals with great powers and neorealism, and I regularly advocate restraint and retrenchment and amoral realpolitik in these pages, I never in my wildest dreams anticipated waking up to an actual realpolitik move from the White House.
Naturally, the laments are severe. From Sen. Lindsey Graham to The Guardian and BBC, everyone is accusing the White House of giving up on U.S. responsibilities, and worse, “stabbing the Kurds in the back.” None of those is true. Moving American troops would be perhaps the most far-sighted thing Trump does as president, and it would be beneficial to the United States in the years to come.