POTUS Donald Trump’s tweeted announcement in December that he was going to order the withdrawal of all 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria and half of the 14,000 troops in Afghanistan drew praise from his supporters but drew the ire of the neocon-neo-Left establishment.
In the weeks that followed, the president’s national security advisor, John Bolton, and secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, tempered some of the outrage among the various war party factions in Congress and the political commentariat by claiming that POTUS would slow-walk the withdrawals as he considered various proposals and other measured responses from people he trusts, like Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who came away “pleased” by what he had heard from the president.
But on Friday, The Associated Press reported that the troop pullout from Syria, at least, had begun, much to the chagrin of the war parties:
After days of conflicting statements about a timeline for U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out American troops from Syria, a U.S. military official said Friday that the withdrawal process has begun, declining to comment on specific timetables or movements.
Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, said “the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria” has started.
“Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements,” the Baghdad-based official said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.
Always seeking a “gotcha” moment with this president and his staff, reporters closed in on Pompeo on Thursday while he was in Cairo, Egypt, pressing him on the AP report.
Notes Washington Examiner national security correspondent Jaime McIntyre in his daily email newsletter:
Before the surprise announcement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismissed as a phony, news media-manufacture story confusion over how long the 2,200 U.S. troops would stay — and whether their departure would be contingent on the total defeat of ISIS and protection for the Kurds.
“There’s no contradiction whatsoever. This is a story made up by the media. That’s fine. You all write what you’d like,” Pompeo told reporters in Cairo yesterday. “President Trump’s decision to withdraw our troops has been made. We will do that.”
Pompeo insisted the pullout from Syria doesn’t mean the U.S. is abandoning the fight against ISIS. “It is possible to hold in your head the thought that we would withdraw our forces, our uniformed forces from Syria and continue America’s crushing campaign where we have taken down 99 percent of the caliphate in Syria and continue that.”
“This isn’t a change of mission. We remain committed to the complete dismantling of ISIS – the ISIS threat – and the ongoing fight against radical Islamism in all of its forms,” Pompeo said. “But as President Trump has said, we’re looking to our partners to do more, and in this effort, we will do so going forward together.”
Point being, the president’s wishes haven’t changed — and neither have the media’s intention to mischaracterize nearly everything he does.
It should be noted that these kinds of operations take time and planning. Withdrawing military personnel and equipment also takes a lot of coordination. Plus, troops and equipment will most likely be withdrawn in stages rather than all at once. And, as Pompeo noted, other military assets will be utilized in place of boots on the ground to continue supporting our allies in the region.
Majorities of Americans are with the president on these withdrawal decisions. Like the president, they believe it’s past time to bring troops home from endless engagements that haven’t produced much in the way of tangible results.
Only the anti-Trump media finds that controversial. — Jon Dougherty