Is America still the world’s last superpower with global policing obligations? Or should we shuck off this imperial role and make America, again, in Jeane Kirkpatrick’s phrase, “a normal country in a normal time”?
“Let someone else fight over this long blood-stained sand,” said President Donald Trump in an impassioned defense of his decision to cut ties to the Syrian Kurds, withdraw and end these “endless wars.”
Are our troops in Syria, then, on their way home? Well, not exactly.
Those leaving northern Syria went into Iraq. Other U.S. soldiers will stay in Syria to guard oil wells that we and the Kurds captured in the war with ISIS. Another 150 U.S. troops will remain in al-Tanf to guard Syria’s border with Iraq, at the request of Jordan and Israel.
And 2,000 more U.S. troops are being sent to Saudi Arabia to help defend the kingdom from Iran, which raises a question: Are we coming or going?
In his conflicting statements and actions, Trump seemingly seeks to mollify both sides of our national quarrel: