Trump’s Syria withdrawal comment carries little weight

Trump says US will leave Syria ‘very soon’ despite promises not to telegraph military moves

President Donald Trump speaks in the Diplomatic Room at the White House, in Washington, Thursday, Feb 15, 2018, about the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Fla. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


Washington: President Donald Trump made a surprise announcement during an infrastructure speech Thursday in Ohio, saying the United States would soon withdraw from Syria.

“By the way, we’re knocking the hell out of Daesh,” Trump said.

“We’re coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon – very soon we’re coming out.”

There is a couple of things about this. The first is that you shouldn’t take it to the bank. Trump has a tendency to spitball about very serious matters such as this.

But Trump’s proclamation was also notable for one other reason: He telegraphed military strategy.

That is something Trump said repeatedly on the 2016 campaign trail and since that he wouldn’t do as president. He said it would only tip off the enemy.

“Unlike Hillary Clinton, who has risked so many lives with her careless handling of sensitive information, my administration will not telegraph exact military plans to the enemy,” Trump said in his big speech about fighting terrorism in August 2016.

Trump does seem to have less concern about telegraphing troop withdrawals, calling for getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan repeatedly on the campaign trail. But now that he’s president, he’s actually in a position to make such withdrawals happen rather quickly. The 2016 Trump would probably argue that announcing you’re getting out of Syria before you actually do it might signal to Daesh that it can just bide its time until the United States leaves and then it will only have “other people” to contend with.

It was an altogether strange utterance from Trump.

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