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Trump and Syrian Safe Zones

One section of Trump’s draft executive order concerning refugees includes a commitment to create a plan for the establishment of safe zones (or “safe areas” as the document calls them) in Syria and “the surrounding region”:

Trump’s support for safe zones in Syria dates back many months. It has never been clear that he understands what establishing safe zones entails, but that hasn’t stoppedhim from repeatedlyendorsing the idea. Creating safe zones would require a large deployment of ground forces that would be prepared to defend it against anyone that might attack, and the mission would be an open-ended one. The U.S. would almost certainly end up providing the bulk of the forces committed to the defense of these areas, and they would immediately become targets of jihadists and would likely end up clashing with Syrian regime forces. Whatever Trump voters thought they were getting by supporting him, I’m reasonably sure sending tens of thousands of Americans to occupy parts of Syria for years to come wasn’t it.

I’ll quote John Ford again on the risks that come with the creation of safe zones in Syria:

Safe zones have a superficial appeal to western policymakers who want to protect civilians but are afraid of the consequences of deeper engagement in Syria. The appeal is illusory. True safe zones would create the risk of a wider war with Russia.

Even if it didn’t lead to a war with a major power, it would still represent a dramatic and unwarranted escalation of U.S. involvement in Syria’s civil war. Most Americans won’t support that, and Trump would be exceedingly foolish to do it.

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.

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