The U.S. military should not pull out of Syria


Photo credit: Gage Northcutt

“The caliphate has crumbled and ISIS has been defeated,” Mike Pence said.

This poorly-timed statement from the United States Vice President was made just hours after 19 people died in Syria due to a suicide bombing. This horrendous act included the deaths of four Americans.

Pence’s statement was made in agreement to President Trump’s declaration in a now-deleted Twitter video that we have “won against ISIS,” and U.S. troops would be returning home. These plans to return the 2,000 soldiers from the harsh conflicts in Syria are a noble attempt but come at a cost. As we can see from the bombing, the conflict is not over.

Critics of Trump’s withdrawal have come from all sides of the political spectrum. This includes former Defense Secretary James Mattis, whose resignation letter came just a day after the withdrawal plan had been made public. Along with Mattis, White House National Security Advisor John Bolton has also shown contempt for the withdrawal. Both criticisms have to do with our support for the Kurdish allies that have fought with the U.S. since the beginning of the war.

Because of the withdrawal, Trump has made Turkey the U.S’ successor for Syrian protection against ISIS. Due to tensions between Turkey and Kurdistan, the Kurd’s resistance may be vulnerable to terrorist or Turkish attacks.

Mike Pence has doubled down on the withdrawal in lieu of the bombing. In an interview with Fox News, Pence said, “we’ve taken back 99 percent of the territory.” Which, to Pence, means that ISIS has been defeated in a “real sense.”

My fear is that the Turks and Kurds will be too busy fighting each other to spot the snake in the grass, and next thing we know, ISIS returns and bombings such as the one described earlier will return with it.

I want to bring our troops home, but the power vacuum that we’ll cause may just lead to the revival of everything we’ve tried to destroy. And the 19 people just trying to live their lives, along with the thousands of innocent civilians and soldiers who have been lost to this war, will have died in vain.

A real sense of defeat is not actual defeat. We would be abandoning our allies and leaving them in the hands of those who may seek to cause harm. This betrays the ideals that made this country and should not be tolerated by any American.

If they are so vulnerable or so-called “defeated,” why do we have to withdraw so soon? Why can’t we guarantee victory instead of just saying that we have victory? Is this just for America to look its best? Do our leaders really care about our soldiers or our allies? Or is this merely another campaign designed to show just how “great” America is doing with no real foundation for these remarks?

Yes, we should celebrate every victory against the murderous and monstrous, but when you state something in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, you are ignorant of the truth.

We have taken 99 percent, but that should not blind us to the fact that 1 percent still belongs to those monsters who are still out there and need to be stopped. We have assisted our allies to take back their land and end a large part of an insurgency, but that does not guarantee their security or peace. It is great to wish for the return of our troops, but it is not okay to encourage a political plan under a false claim of absolute triumph.

Gage Northcutt can be reached at [email protected] or @GageNorthcutt on Twitter.