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Trump’s Forever War in Syria

John Bolton said earlier today that U.S. troops will be staying in Syria forever:

Conditioning the ongoing illegal U.S. military presence in Syria on the withdrawal of Iranian forces makes it impossible for U.S. troops to leave. Iran is not going to withdraw its forces from Syria, and it has no reason to do so as long as the Syrian government wants them to stay. As usual, administration demands for Iran are maximalist, unreasonable, and certain to be rejected. The goal of Trump’s Syria policy is completely unrealistic and unrelated to any genuine security interests of the United States. Trump’s theme at the U.N. this week is supposed to be emphasizing the importance of sovereignty, so it is worth pointing out that the U.S. has been routinely violating Syrian sovereignty for the last four years and continues to do so every day that U.S. forces are present in the country. It is not surprising that the administration doesn’t respect the sovereignty of other states when they don’t want to, but it is worth noting the staggering hypocrisy on display.

The administration’s position on Syria commits the U.S. to an unending war in a country where they are not authorized to be. Congress has never debated, much less approved, the ongoing deployment of U.S. troops in Syria, and there is no justification for our military to be operating inside Syria. The longer U.S. forces stay there, the more likely it is that their presence will result in clashes with pro-regime forces, and that could turn into a much larger conflict that the U.S. doesn’t need and can’t afford.

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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