End the duopoly

Trump tries to rebrand Syria withdrawal as a political promise kept: Let someone else be the world’s policeman

In President Trump’s telling Wednesday, his withdrawal of all but a few U.S. forces from Syria makes good on his promise to shake off the sand of faraway Middle East conflicts, and to let other countries play policeman for a change.

Trump hopes his decision will please his most loyal political supporters, who tend to love it when he pokes a finger in the eye of the naysayers. Thus, Trump proudly owned what his critics see as a debacle born of willful ignorance.

He declared a “major breakthrough” as a U.S.-backed cease-fire along the Syrian-Turkish border largely held, and claimed that he is saving American and Kurdish lives while pulling the plug on indefinite U.S. military commitments.

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Even close political allies of Trump’s have called it a blunder to abandon Syrian Kurdish allies and open the door to Russian and Turkish control of a strategic crossroads between the Middle East and Europe.

But Trump has taken to wearing their scorn as a badge of honor — evidence not that he has made a foolish decision but that he is breaking with foreign policy conventions he has derided as costing too much treasure and lives in pursuit of high-minded internationalist ideals anathema to his nationalist world view.

“As a candidate for president, I made clear that we needed a new approach to American foreign policy, one guided not by ideology, but by experience, history, and a realistic understanding of the world,” he said from a lectern in the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room.

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