Some Republicans, including Trump allies such as Sen Lindsey Graham, have joined Democrats in sharply criticizing the president’s decision to withdraw an unannounced number of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria.
But Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) strongly supports the president’s move, even if the “neocon war caucus of the Senate” — Paul’s words — does not.
“We haven’t been able to find peace for 18 years in Afghanistan,” Paul told Fox News’s Neil Cavuto in a telephone interview on Monday. “So I certainly don’t think we’re going to find peace in Syria. But I do think a couple of hundred people there is simply a trip wire for a bigger war or for a calamity for our soldiers.”
The neocons “always want to stay at war. They always think it’s the best answer,” Paul said:
But I would say this. I think President Trump recognizes what President Reagan recognized, unfortunately too late, in Beirut. Leaving three or 400 people in an area that is vulnerable could lead to catastrophe, but also doesn’t really do anything to secure our national security.
You know, I’m kind of the belief go big — go big or go home. You know, 200 or 300 people are just a trip wire to get us drawn into something and a tragedy probably, but they aren’t enough to do anything.
In fact, there may be a couple of — there may be dozens of people at a time — maybe a dozen here, dozen there. They aren’t enough to deter anything. And part of the resolution of the war over there has to be people who live over there.
The Turks live over there. The Syrians live over there. And we have — they have apparently come to an agreement. There’s about three million Syrian refugees in Turkey. You know, they’re going to try to get some of those people back into Syria. And they have to have an area — a zone where they can control that.
And, you know, I think that the best answer is, is that we don’t have all the answers and that the people who live there are always going to have more of a stake in the game, and we need to not think that it’s always the U.S.’ responsibility to fight every war and find every peace.
We haven’t been able to find peace for 18 years in Afghanistan. So I certainly don’t think we’re going to find peace in Syria. But I do think a couple of hundred people there is simply a trip wire for a bigger war or for a calamity for our soldiers.
Paul said world powers “could have done a better job drawing up these country lines” after World War I:
Right now, there at least is a Kurdish autonomous region within Iraq. And I think that’s a good place for people to live if they want to have more Kurdish autonomy. But then, it may be unrealistic to think that either Turkey or Syria is going to give up part of their territory up there to an autonomous region for the Kurds.
So, you know, some have said this will force the Kurds to decide who their allies are. But I guess that’s kind of what they have got to decide. It’s definitely not going to be Turkish allies.
So the question is, do they have more in common with Syria? And could there be some unification of causes there to try to find stability in Syria?
The bottom line is, this chaos was fed by outside intervention. The Turks got involved. We got involved, the Qataris, the Saudis. All these people got involved in this Syrian civil war. And to what end?
I mean, hundreds of thousands of people have died. Millions of people are displaced. So, once again, the idea of regime change in the Middle East — and this is what President Trump is so right about — regime change hasn’t worked. It’s led to more chaos.
And the rise of ISIS came in the chaos of Hussein being toppled, but also the chaos of Assad’s regime being made marginal and made fragile.
The United States has an estimated 1,000 troops in Syria. According to The New York Times, Trump’s pullback order affects around 100 to 150 of them.
Turkey wants to set up a buffer zone, free of Kurdish fighters, along its 300-mile border with Syria. It then plans to repatriate some two million Syrian refugees who fled to Turkey to escape the civil war.