There are a lot of irritating things about the media’s obsession with the BIG QUESTION – Did the Trump campaign collude with the Russian government? – but one of the most irritating is how it colors everything the president does with respect to foreign policy. Donald Trump was not elected on a charade of being just like every other Republican in the primaries. He was forthright and honest about where he disagreed with the status quo, and that included his oft-repeated desire to put an end to our relentless excursions into the Middle East. That would – naturally and inescapably – include a desire to get the U.S. out of the civil war in Syria, apart from our interests in decimating ISIS.
At no point did President Trump and his immediate allies in the administration give false signals about this intention, apart from the missile strike against the Assad regime earlier this year. But that strike was a clear one-off, meant to send a simple message to both Assad and Putin. We’re not pursuing regime change, the message said, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to stand back and watch this kind of atrocity take place without retaliation. It was the right move at the right time, even if many Trump supporters feared that it could drag the U.S. deeper into the conflict.
Those fears proved to be groundless, of course, and now Trump is making it even clearer that he wants to extract the U.S. from the Syrian debacle. According to U.S. officials, Trump is putting the kibosh on a CIA program that arms and trains – cough, cough – “moderate” Syrian rebels who are aiming to bring down the Assad regime. The program, employed by President Obama in 2013 when the U.S. was still hopeful about once again playing the “let’s dethrone an awful dictator and see what kind of Islamist trash takes his place” game, became little more than a waste of money once Russia inserted itself into the conflict.
The Obama administration made a whole host of blunders during the Arab Spring, but their involvement in the Syrian civil war was by far the most costly. If President Trump is making headway towards getting us as far away from this debacle as possible, it can only be for the good. Yes, we have to keep an eye on Iran and its spreading influence, but we can do that without spending another trillion dollars on a Middle Eastern war with an uncertain and unpredictable outcome.
But of course, the media, desperate to make Trump look like a puppet of the Kremlin, is quick to remind everyone that this “is what Putin wants.” Well, so? Is it incumbent on the president to run every piece of foreign policy through the “Will Putin like it or not?” test? Why should Donald Trump feel handcuffed to an Obama-era blunder just because the New York Times won’t stop with their hysterical coverage of the 2016 election? It defies any and all logic.
This move was a long time coming, and it was the correct choice. If Putin is pleased, the Democrat-run media will just have to live with that fact.