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The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence. It's a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal by this president of American allies and American values.
Mr. Mayor has a point. For 75 years, from Fulda Gap to the 38th Parallel, the American soldier has been the last line of defense against violence, chaos, and oppression. From Kosovo to Anbar, he has kept a lid on cauldrons of bloodlust. Remove him, and the poison boils over.
Congress - Aid - South - Vietnam - US
That is what happened when Congress reduced aid to South Vietnam in 1975. It is what followed U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in 2011. It is happening now in northeast Syria, and it will happen again when Americans leave Afghanistan. Our forces depart; our allies collapse; our adversaries take command.
The pattern was established well before Donald Trump took office. It will persist after he departs. There is nothing so consistent as American ambivalence toward our superpower status. Most great powers covet hegemony. We hate it. The costs are too high, the demands too stressful.
Exercise - Power - Prerogative - Use - Power
"For every exercise of the great power's prerogative, there has been an equally strong recoiling from the use of power," wrote Robert Kagan in A Twilight Struggle (1996). "While the United States cannot escape behaving as the hegemonic great power, it is also a great power with a democratic conscience, a strong anti-imperialist streak, and an unwillingness to adopt the role of policeman anywhere for more than a brief time."
Kagan was describing U.S. policy toward Nicaragua. He might as well have been talking about the Middle East.
Trump - America - Country - Presence - Syria
Trump is getting America out of a country we were never really in. Our presence in Syria was not enough to deter Turkey. One thousand troops do not constitute a tripwire. They are chips in a high-stakes game. Erdogan called the bluff.
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