fbpx
Home/Daniel Larison/The Illegal War in Syria and Trump’s Awful Embrace of the Saudis

The Illegal War in Syria and Trump’s Awful Embrace of the Saudis

President Donald Trump poses for photos with ceremonial swordsmen on his arrival to Murabba Palace, as the guest of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, Saturday evening, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Trump said something about keeping U.S. forces in Syria earlier today that needs to be addressed:

‘Saudi Arabia is very interested in our decision,’ Trump noted. ‘I said, “Well, if you want us to stay maybe you’ll have to pay.”‘

Trump’s statement is remarkable for a few reasons. He claims to want to pull U.S. forces out of Syria, but this statement suggests that he would be willing to keep them there if the Saudis would pay for it. Protecting the lives of American soldiers and U.S. interests seem to be irrelevant to Trump so long as someone is offering to pay. That implies that he thinks the services of the U.S. military are available to be rented by our despotic clients whenever they are willing to offer enough money. Trump doesn’t care whether staying in Syria makes America more or less secure, but is focused only on whether someone else is willing to foot the bill. It is not news that Trump’s approach to foreign policy is transactional and exploitative, but it is nonetheless striking to have it stated so bluntly in public like this.

If staying in Syria is important enough to U.S. security to risk the lives of American soldiers, it shouldn’t matter whether the Saudis will pay for it or not. Since we know that it isn’t that important, it shouldn’t matter whether the Saudis will pay for it or not. Our military should not be serving as the Saudis’ mercenary army. I have no confidence in Trump’s judgment, and his latest remarks tell me that he will make his decision about this for the worst reasons.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

leave a comment

Latest Articles