For the past couple of years we’ve heard a drumbeat that President Trump is an idiot and a traitor, alienating key allies and caving to the Russians. Former special counsel Robert Meuller put the lie to that.
For the past couple of months, we’ve heard that Trump has endangered America’s national security through his challenges to Iran, his telephone call to the president of Ukraine, and his partial withdrawal of troops from Syria.
For the past several days we’ve been treated to Adm. William McKraven writing that the “republic is under attack” because the president does not agree with his and Gen. James Mattis’s “leave no Kurd behind” strategy. We’ve also endured William Taylor’s rambling third-hand impressions about Trump’s interchanges with Ukraine, which probably explains why Trump didn’t operate through “official channels” (i.e., Taylor, a top diplomat at the U.S. embassy in Kiev).
With all due respect to these current and former officials: nonsense.
Now, it may well be that the president neither takes his advisers’ advice, nor even reads their briefing books. He may not have a full grasp of the complexity of the issues. But it also may be true that during his business career he met more heads of state and personally negotiated more deals with foreign officials than any of the U.S. presidents (and certainly government bureaucrats) of the past 50 years.
The issues of Syria and the Kurds are complicated. Arguably, America has completed its mission and reduced the effectiveness of ISIS. That is a good reason for withdrawal. Staying will not disrupt Syria’s alliance with Russia; our bets on supporting rebels in Syrian regime change have all been bad; and we will not counter potential Iranian influence in Syria with troops. So why, exactly, do we want more Americans killed and what is the mission?