If we were to take President Trump by his word alone, it might seem that we have an ally in the White House in our mission to end endless war.
He has repeatedly pledged to end U.S. involvement in current wars, and in a press conference earlier this month, he said, “I ran on the basis [that] we’re going to bring our great soldiers back home where they belong. We don’t have to fight these endless wars.”
But ending endless war means more than ambitious promises. In areas as complex as the Middle East, North Africa, and Afghanistan, sustained peace requires a rigorous set of diplomatic tools. Negotiation, consultation, planning, strategy—these are more than buzzwords. They are absolute necessities for ending violent conflicts abroad.
Thus far, the Trump administration has left these necessary tools untouched. The ongoing debacle in northern Syria is prime evidence. The decision to withdraw military personnel was made without consultation with our allies and opened the door for atrocities in a region tragically prone to them. The U.S. failed to secure guarantees that would protect civilians and abandoned crucial allies.
The result is not peace and stability. It’s chaos.
The president’s stated desire to end endless war is further undercut by the increase in troops elsewhere in the Middle East. Just days after withdrawing troops from northern Syria, the Pentagon announced plans to send 1,800 more soldiers to Saudi Arabia.
Military occupation is not the answer in the Middle East. But the equation is not quite as simple as “troop removal = peace.” We must engage in careful and deliberate diplomacy, and Congress must reassert its authority over matters of war and peace.
Actions speak louder than words. When it comes to ending endless war, the same holds true.