Against the backdrop of the country’s humanitarian crisis, Syria became a touchstone issue in the 2016 presidential election. Candidate Hillary Clinton promised to create a no-fly zone over the war-torn nation, while Donald Trump stated his intention to stay out of Syria’s internal affairs.
Of course, the voters ultimately chose to support Trump and his vision.
Fast forward to April 2017. Following a chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib Province purportedly conducted by forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad, President Trump conducted a controversial bombing raid against Assad’s forces that led many to suspect that his policy toward intervention had shifted.
Trump’s Syria Shift
However, it became clear to President Trump’s supporters that he is, in fact, interested in maintaining his campaign promises. When it was announced that he decided to cut off CIA funding of anti-Assad insurgents following a meeting with Vladimir Putin, the policy was praised by some who view the fighters with suspicion, owing to their alleged ties to Islamist groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda. Others criticized the move as overly placatory toward Russia, a key Syrian ally.
Whatever your opinion is of the move, it seems clear that the President is committed to maintaining an America-first policy when it comes to conflicts in the Middle East.
Following the last two administrations, which oversaw decades of instability in the region, President Trump’s supporters see this as a welcome shift. After all, regardless of the risks or benefits of withdrawing influence from that part of the world, no one would deny that we have our own issues at home.
At such a critical juncture in our history, should we be focusing our efforts abroad, or policing our own affairs first? With his latest decision on the Syria question, President Trump has made his opinion on that quite clear.