United States lawmakers need to make up their minds about Syria

Duplicitous outrage is unacceptable

Donald Trump speaks with the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board on June 29 in Chicago. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune)

Donald Trump speaks with the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board on June 29 in Chicago. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune)

By Neil Singh, Collegian Contributor

Over a thousand American troops within the Manbij area of the Syrian-Turkish border received orders to evacuate all bases set up within the region post-haste as a result of an executive decision on Oct. 13. This has come in the face of a Turkish decision to invade Northern Syria to wipe out strongholds of Kurdish territories there, which the Turkish government considers terrorist hubs as a result of the Kurdish separatist movement across the Levant and Anatolia. As the U.S. Military evacuates bases, they have been replaced by Turkish and Russian forces moving into formerly American bases, as strike campaigns supporting the Turkish invasion have killed dozens of civilians.

Domestically, both Democrats and Republicans have come out against this decision, citing humanitarian and national security concerns. As much as I have to express disapproval with the words of Republican congressmen like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), whose complicit nature is obvious in more than one way in one of the worst policy blunders of the new millennium, the duplicitous outrage of Democrats who have called for the United States to abandon the Kurds in the years before is just as unacceptable.

Foreign policy advisors to the Obama administration like Susan Rice who decry Trump’s decision based on the humanitarian concerns and responsibilities have no ground to stand upon after abandoning the opportunity to remove or neuter the Assad government and end its reign of terror for a show of political force against then-dead ideas of neoconservatism in Congress. Worse, popular and competent congressional figures like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were demanding this very retreat only months ago.

While at the very least she does not claim that she now opposes the decision based on caring about our dues to and the safety of the Kurdish people or the American people’s national interest, this ill-thought-out mentality of “ending endless wars” is responsible for not only enabling this blunder but having wanted it in the first place. It’s not quite so simple as believing that the United States is a criminal for attempting to bring democracy and stability to the Middle East and should thus remove itself instantly.

If you have recently looked at the news and recoiled at the seemingly malicious apathy of the presidency in its decision making relating to the Kurds, you have to ask yourself, is this not what the anti-war group, whether it be Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) or Rush Limbaugh, has always wanted? That the United States has blundered in entering the sphere of the Middle East in any direct fashion, and that it must retreat with all sense of immediacy for the maintenance of America’s own concerns within its borders?

While I understand that in theory, most would argue that withdrawal should be conducted in a more strategic manner. Withdrawal is fundamentally a flawed concept as the current situation in the Middle East stands. For example, Obama’s 2011 Iraq pullout was widely viewed as mistake amongst the Iraqi population, despite the fact that it was a pullout three years in the making.

The United States was and is a world power with no equal, one that tells itself that it is the world’s symbol of freedom and law. The only way to act as such a symbol is not to rely on the uncontrollable soft power of sanctions, which rarely affect the dictators we try to use them against, but to outwardly stride out, banner of democracy held high, and deliver to the world those concepts while it can. This time will not last forever, and I worry that it has already ended as we lose Syria to the villains in the Assad government and the Russian Federation, while China’s rise presents another authoritarian threat to the United States’ abilities on the world stage.

The United States is a formidable power that has the singular, unmatched military and economic might to create conditions of prosperity not only for its own people, but simultaneously for people the world over. Why should our support for the rights of our fellow human beings end at the border? Next time you go to the voting booth, ask yourself: do you want our efforts in the Middle East ended, or do you want them done better?

Neil Singh is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]