This month the President announced the withdrawal of US troops from Syria and a significant reduction in US troop levels in Afghanistan. From a military angle, this is hardly news; there will be little effect on battlefield. Politically, on the other hand, it is a significant turning point indeed. The government is finally responding to public opinion’s distaste for perpetual imperial adventure.
This process really began with the failure – if an operation without any concrete aim can even be said to be a failure – of the Bush administration’s occupation of Iraq. Public opinion began to turn against that war as early as 2006, as evidenced by the results of the midterm elections. This shift in public opinion was bolstered by the election of a President who based his campaign on a promise withdraw US troops from foreign entanglements – in three consecutive presidential elections.
While Obama can be credited for keeping to the withdrawal schedule agreed to by Bush in his lame duck term – I have grave doubts that McCain would have done so, his administration was plagued by tremendous political inertia in over Afghanistan. During the entire eight years of his presidency, he was never able to find an appropriate time to leave, largely due his listening to deep state advisers who kept telling him “now is not the time”, and so the time never came. Worse still, he was sold on intervention in Syria, an intervention without even the pretense of congressional authorization.
For a time it seemed that Trump would follow the same path. He even went as far as to authorize attacks on Syrian government forces which could not be classified as anything other than naked aggression. For reasons not fully understood at this time, which may prove to be rather personal, Trump has followed his instincts that were correct all along, rather than the deep state operatives who call themselves experts and begin withdrawal, winding down the overseas deployments that have worn the country down.
Such is a long overdue step away the post-World War II Pax Americana mission of the United States and toward a more multipolar world order. Nowhere is this trend more evident than in the reaction of the political class of the US. It is being pillored as a win for Russia, Iran the Syrian government and all those political players that are supposedly enemies of America, but in reality only enemies of the hegemonist agenda of Washington. Syrian intervention was sold to the American people as a fight against ISIS and not as a proxy was against Russia and Iran, but now Washington is admitting that’s what it really was. Paradoxically, it is being called a victory for ISIS, even though the three aforementioned powers all fought against ISIS. There are lamentations about the supposed betrayal of our Kurdish allies to Turkey, whose government allegedly intends to exterminate the Kurds. The fact that Turkey, as a member of NATO, actually is a US ally is conveniently overlooked.
It is too soon to say how fast this trend will move, but we see finally the US backing of from its self-appointed role as the world exporter of liberalism.