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Trump and Syria

Donald Trump’s decision to pull U.S. forces off the Turkish-Syrian border was by and large a correct one. The PKK — the main Kurdish resistance movement — has underwritten a terror campaign in Turkey for years and tries to drive a wedge between Washington and Ankara.

Although Trump has little sympathy for Turkish actions, he also correctly sees the United States as overstretched. With a series of “endless wars” in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, Trump has tried to extricate the United States from these conflicts — only to receive resistance on his foreign policy team and from Congress. Congress is bipartisan in its support for perpetual war. Moreover, The National Security establishment is united against Trump rejection of Wilsonian globallism.

Republicans such as Ben Sasse, Nikki Haley and even the sycophantic Lindsey Graham have joined the chorus against Trump. All have a reputation for advocating intervention over the globe. Graham who has been one of the most zealous of those who seek to manipulate the president now has been surprised. No doubt Trump must find Graham as tiring as he did John McCain only with less integrity. Haley who repeated Samantha Power’s palaver in the United Nations, thought she could fool Trump with her faux loyalty. Guess she didn’t.

But this underscored Trump’s problem with the GOP, his is popular with the rank and file but is secretly despised by its former leadership. Mitt Romney, another hawk, at least has opposed Trump with a clear and honorable voice. The rest have tried to be clandestine in their opposition, but their approach has been obvious, leaks, disparaging comments in Capitol corridors were meant never to go public. They are as clandestine as a fire alarm.

Democrats are vocal — after all they are the opposition, but this persistent support for interventions is troublesome. Hillary Clinton’s vote for war in 2003 probably cost he some votes in 2016. Her actions in Libya and toward Russia did not help either. At least, Bernie Sanders remains steadfast against the chorus of interventionists. So called “moderates” cost Democrats elections in 2000 and 2016, they would be wise to follow the older tradition of restraint. They should not allow Trump to be the only “peace” candidate in the race.

But, at least their support for foreign adventurism comes with qualifiers. The GOP wants war at any price without stint or limit. Graham is much like John Bolton in that he wants to take on the entire world. Remember McCain, “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” a view no doubt honestly held — but reckless in the extreme.

Graham, who no doubt agreed with McCain, has stooped to flattery to bend Trump to his will. In doing so, he is abasing himself to no purpose — no one bends Trump.

Trump must remind the Republicans who he is and try to carry the party membership over to his cause. But, his decision in Syria, if it is allowed to stick, would be a step in the right direction.