Friday, December 21, 2018

Syria Withdrawal and Push for Border Wall Demonstrate Trump's 'America First' Worldview

Leftist media outlets have been slobbering all over themselves the last 24 hours, with a concatenation of news events they hope will damage the White House.

Actually, a lot of this is good news. The Mattis resignation isn't out of the ordinary at all. The economy's actually strong and markets are betting on the future, especially Federal Reserve moves that could dampen growth. Fact is, final 3rd quarter numbers show the economy humming along at 3.5 percent growth. Travel numbers for the season are at record numbers and it should be a booming Christmas shopping season.

For the leftist establishment take on Mattis see NYT, via Memeorandum, "Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Resigns, Rebuking Trump's Worldview."

And for the America First viewpoint, make sure you're following Diana West on Twitter:

And at the Los Angeles Times, "Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria and build a border wall instead marks a key moment for his 'America first' view":

President Trump, in a pair of tweets Wednesday summarizing his worldview, justified his decision to order American troops withdrawn from Syria while promising that the military would instead put resources into building the wall he’s long espoused along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” Trump tweeted, shortly before his press secretary announced that “we have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign.”

That declaration from Trump came shortly after another Twitter missive in which he declared that “because of the tremendous dangers at the Border, including large scale criminal and drug inflow, the United States Military will build the Wall!”

The joint tweets offered perhaps the clearest distillation to date of Trump’s “America first” policy: a simple and abrupt vow to disengage from one of the world’s most nettlesome conflicts, with a potentially premature declaration of victory over the militants of Islamic State, also known as ISIS, coupled with an unlikely promise that the world’s most sophisticated fighting force would be deployed to build a literal fortification around the homeland.

The order to withdraw the roughly 2,000 troops currently in Syria provided the latest example of how Trump’s instinct to turn inward, whatever the risk and costs to the United States’ influence and reputation abroad, may clash with the views of the generals and foreign policy experts who serve inside and outside his administration.

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, for example, a retired four-star general who once commanded American forces in the Middle East, was pushed aside by President Obama for advocating more forceful engagement in the region. Pentagon officials over the last two years have repeatedly clashed with Trump’s desires to limit the kind of muscular U.S. role in the Mideast that Mattis has advocated in the past.

Trump’s announcement raised fears among national security professionals that he might follow the Syria decision with a troop drawdown in Afghanistan, something he has long wanted to do.

Either exit involves a strategic gamble by Trump and could also cost the president politically if Islamic State violence resurges or the region destabilizes during the 2020 election campaign.

“It is a major blunder,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). “If it isn’t reversed, it will haunt this administration and America for years to come.”

As is often the case, many officials worked Wednesday to mitigate the immediate impacts of Trump’s declaration, by slowing the withdrawal timeline and following his instructions only approximately. Others who have grown accustomed to Trump’s splashy promises and the fluidity of his decision-making cautioned that Wednesday’s announcement may not come immediately to fruition or could be tempered by the time the military implements it.

Trump’s about-face came only weeks after some of his own advisors said U.S. troops would remain in Syria until Iran, a key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, agreed to remove its own troops from the country. That expanded mission appeared to reflect the wishes of anti-Iran hard-liners, including national security advisor John Bolton, rather than Trump’s views.

A senior administration official who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity put the matter bluntly. Asked about the cascade of recent statements by Bolton and others vowing to stay in Syria as long as Iran remained engaged, the official said that Trump is doing what Trump wants to do.

“The issue here is that the president has made a decision,” the official said. “He gets to do that. It’s his prerogative.”

The official conceded that the Islamic State threat has not been eliminated from the region beyond Syria’s borders, even if the militants have been significantly hobbled inside.

Some of Trump’s closest allies in the Republican Party oppose his plan...
Still more.