- The Washington Times - Monday, October 14, 2019

President Trump’s grassroots military supporters, as opposed to neoconservatives who have long opposed his agenda, appear to be supporting his abrupt decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria.

Some strong pro-military pundits told The Washington Times that the five-year American deployment and alliance with Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria had served its purpose.

Retired Army Col. Robert Maginnis, a frequent analyst on TV and radio, said the U.S. needs to reset resources.

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“We have spent almost two decades in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and North Africa chasing terrorists,” he told The Washington Times, referring to the post-9/11 priorities against Islamic extremists. “Those fights will continue with or without our full support. We must minimize that drain in order to refocus on what’s most important, which is deterring China and Russia.”

The Chinese “are rapidly [matching] and in some areas exceeding U.S. military capabilities, and based on [President Xi Jinping’s] rhetoric, the Asian giant intends to make his nation the world’s military hegemony by the regime’s 100th anniversary” in 2049.

U.S. forces entered Syria under President Obama in 2014 to liberate towns in northeastern Syria. There the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist army had swelled to the point that it was strong enough to invade Iraq, capitalizing on Mr. Obama’s 2011 decision to pull all U.S. forces from that country.

In Syria, Kurdish and Arab forces, supported by American special operations forces and air power, systematically rid each area of ISIS fighters. Mr. Trump declared the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate destroyed in February.

But over the weekend, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he planned to invade, Mr. Trump ordered the first segment of American troops to leave an area near the Turkish border and later announced that all 1,000 U.S. special operations forces inside Syria would be coming home.

With that, Mr. Erdogan unleashed an offensive to cleanse a corridor of Kurdish factions he says are linked to Kurdish separatists inside Turkey and thus a threat to his government.

Mr. Trump’s withdrawal has been roundly criticized by Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill. They say the U.S. betrayed its Kurdish allies, who had proved so critical in the fight against Islamic extremists. More than 11,000 Kurdish fighters are estimated to have died in the campaign to oust the Islamic State.

But many of Mr. Trump’s base supporters are standing by him, saying the president is doing what he promised as a candidate three years ago.

“President Trump’s actions on Syria are generally consistent with his campaign positions. He wanted to crush ISIS and get out,” said J.D. Gordon, a former Pentagon spokesman and Trump campaign national security adviser.

“While the clash between our Turkish and Kurdish allies is obviously terrible, armed conflict between them has been going on for decades,” Mr. Gordon, an analyst on One America News network, said in an interview Monday. “Since we are $22 trillion in debt and rising, we should not be the world’s policeman forever. If there is any border that must be a priority to defend, it’s our own.”

Retired Navy Capt. Chuck Nash also endorsed the Syria withdrawal.

“Where is the ISIS caliphate now? It’s gone,” he said on Fox News. “Now that that is done, why are we there?”

Capt. Nash said Turkey eventually may fall into a trap by riling millions of Kurds in the region.

“As these forces realign … you’re going to have a much broader, more potent force facing the Turks and the massive Kurdish population inside their borders,” he said. “They have bit off a lot, and this could blow up in their face.”

Buck Sexton, a former CIA analyst and a Trump defender on social media and TV, tweeted his support Monday.

“Around 500,000 human beings were killed in Syria while Barack Obama was president and leading for a ‘political settlement’ to that civil war,” he wrote. “Media has been more outraged in the last 72 hours over our Syria policy than they were at any point during 7 years of slaughter. Ask why.”

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