U.S. Military Troops Should Leave Syria, But We Can’t Abandon the Region
The Friends Committee on National Legislation welcomes the announced withdrawal of U.S. military troops from Syria and the reduction of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
As a matter of faith, we oppose all war. As a matter of public policy, we have consistently opposed U.S. military intervention in Syria on the grounds that it would not contribute to an end to the violence and war.
The president’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops should be accompanied by a diplomatic effort that engages all parties to the conflict, imposes an international arms embargo, and establishes a coordinated humanitarian response to protect civilians. Such a diplomatic effort must ensure that those most directly affected by the conflicts – especially women and children – are represented at the negotiating table. Congress should do its part by providing adequate funding for robust diplomacy and civilian peacebuilding efforts as an alternative to military engagement.
The U.S. military missions in Syria and Afghanistan have failed. The apparent lack of a coordinated, focused diplomatic strategy supported by the other branches of government appears to have played a role in the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis, and will only exacerbate instability and chaos in the region.
There is ample evidence that the increasingly militarized U.S. approach to national security is counterproductive. We cannot make ourselves more secure by making others around the world less secure.
To fulfill its constitutional duty to decide whether and where our country goes to war, the 116th Congress must demand a public accounting of all the places where the United States is currently conducting military operations and all the organizations against which U.S. forces are fighting. Americans deserve a clear and full picture of the costs and outcomes of an ever-expanding list of U.S. wars around the globe.
In addition to holding hearings and improving oversight, the 116th Congress needs to rein in U.S. wars around the world. It is urgent that Congress reassert its constitutional responsibilities by voting on every war in which our country is currently engaged, and by prohibiting new wars without full and open debate and prior congressional approval. The 116th Congress should start by repealing the 2001 and 2002 laws that authorized the use of force in Afghanistan and Iraq and have been cited to justify wars that last forever.