Max Boot predictably wants to keep U.S. forces in Syria on a mission that has no end:
There is no deus ex machina: Either America keeps its own troops in Syria or it risks a revival of the Islamic State and an expansion of Iranian power. Our allies won’t do our job for us.
Boot criticizes the ridiculous Bolton plan to replace U.S. forces in Syria with Egyptians, Saudis, and others, and it’s true that Bolton’s plan can’t and won’t work. It doesn’t follow that the U.S. should maintain its illegal military presence in Syria.
A continued U.S. military presence in Syria isn’t necessary for U.S. security or the security of our allies. Our military presence there has been and will continue to be illegal under both international and U.S. law. Congress has never voted to authorize the president to send American soldiers to fight in Syria against any enemy, and the president has no legal authority to send them there on his own. If something is both unnecessary and illegal, there is no good reason to keep doing it. It is also potentially risky. The longer our forces stay there, the more likely it is that they will clash with the forces of the Syrian government or their allies.
The mission that Boot wants them to have couldn’t possibly end as long as Iran and Syria remain allies. There is always some chance that ISIS revive or that some other jihadist group could spring up in its place, so committing to preventing that means that U.S. forces would have to remain in Syria indefinitely. Preventing an “expansion of Iranian power” in Syria would be another permanent assignment. Any territorial gains by the Syrian government would be treated as Iranian “expansion” by the same geniuses that supported the invasion of Iraq and did more to increase Iranian influence than anyone else. It would be a stupid waste of resources, money, and manpower to illegally occupy northeastern Syria in perpetuity mainly to spite the ally of the recognized government of that country. The president should reject Bolton’s plan and dismiss Boot’s advice, and instead he should bring U.S. forces out of Syria as soon as possible.