Almost one year ago I posted "Goodbye Syria and good riddance" on this blog. President Donald Trump had ordered a withdrawal from Syria in what seemed to many to be a non-consultative rash and reactionary move. His then Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis disagreed and ultimately resigned in large part because of the decision.
At that time I agreed with the President's decision and continue to support his efforts to withdraw from these interminable military deployments. Last year I was critical of the way in which the decision was made. It reportedly lacked consultation with allies and even within the President's own Administration. Trump eventually relented to across the board pressure to remain though there was a decrease in the number of forces by half.
The same arguments are being made that the decision this time was made hastily without adequate preparation and consultation. A lot of the criticism is simply the knee jerk reaction of the President's haters. No matter what he does it is wrong and they seek political advantage. But as in December of last year, there is significant opposition from two other sectors - Republican leaders and the defense bureaucracy.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote an Op-Ed this past weekend in the Washington Post titled: Withdrawing from Syria is a Grave Mistake. McConnell says, "It will leave the American people and homeland less safe, embolden our enemies, and weaken important alliances." I am familiar with these arguments from advocates such as McConnell, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham. They are hawks of the traditional "America as the indispensable leader" believers. I understand their arguments, but I ask: "At what cost?"
The election in 2016 was decided in no small part by people who have had it with the endless wars that expend blood and treasure for questionable objectives and results. In fact, the one sure way for Donald Trump to loose reelection is to engage in another such adventure. The Iranians are trying to provoke him to do just that. The defense bureaucracy would have reacted as would normally be expected but for the President saying no in reaction to the shoot down of an unarmed drone by the Iranians. Though the President has approved further deployments to Saudi Arabia as a deterrent in response to attacks on Saudi oil facilities he has not taken the bait to engage in yet another military adventure.
Below is the post from December of last year. It remains relevant. Everything below this line was written in December, 2018. Note it sounds just like this past week one year later. I have made some additions in bold. The original post with comments is linked here.
Sunday, October 20, 2019
If pressed to predict the winner of the 2020 presidential election today I would predict that President Donald J. Trump will be reelected. The prediction is based on Professor Allen J. Lichtman’s “Keys to the White House” model. The model is a proven predictor that uses measures that are more objective than polls and pundits. The model predicted the Trump victory in 2016 while all other methods failed. But the prediction is only a marker in time - the present - and a lot could change.
The Democratic Party has avenues to change indicator status and the outcome in the remaining year. However, barring a major collapse of the economy, they may only be able to change the indicators on the margins. In that case they will need to provide a very strong candidate as an alternative to President Trump. Can the leading Democratic Presidential candidates provide that alternative? Read on.