Features

America’s stalled withdrawal from Syria

Donald Trump stuns his allies over his plans to pull troops from Syria.

929-Bolton-634
Bolton: sending mixed messages

It has become usual for US president Donald Trump to make "norm-shattering pronouncements", while his top advisers work behind the scenes to preserve the status quo, says The New York Times. But the latest row over policy towards Syria "is in a category all of its own". Shortly after Trump "stunned the world" last month by ordering a rapid US withdrawal from Syria, "the administration began backtracking".

Secretary of state John Bolton has now made the withdrawal conditional on destroying Islamic State and guarantees from Turkey on the fate of the Kurds (allies of the US, which Turkey sees as terrorists).

The U-turn is a pity, because "when an entire political establishment says a decision is mad, I tend to think something in it must be right", says Simon Jenkins in The Guardian. Indeed, the "vehemence and cynicism of pro-intervention lobbies" can't hide the fact that the US's entrapment in the Middle East is more to do with imperial adventure than with America's national security. In this case, the US president was right to try to put "America first".

There are some "plausible arguments" for a Syrian withdrawal, says The Times, but an American departure now would open up a power vacuum that would be filled by Russia, Iran and Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president. That would reward enemies for years of "massacring and bombardment" and "send a devastating signal to America's allies everywhere". The US presence in Syria does not have to be open-ended, but withdrawal from a war cannot be "flagged in social media and conducted in haste".

Recommended

How long can the good times roll?
Economy

How long can the good times roll?

Despite all the doom and gloom that has dominated our headlines for most of 2019, Britain and most of the rest of the developing world is currently en…
19 Dec 2019
Why Wall Street has got the US economy wrong again
Economy

Why Wall Street has got the US economy wrong again

The hiring slowdown does not signal recession for the US economy. Growth is just moving down a gear, says Brian Pellegrini.
25 Oct 2019
What the race for the White House means for your money
US election

What the race for the White House means for your money

American voters are about to decide whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden will take the oath of office on 20 January. Matthew Partridge explains how vario…
15 Oct 2020
The riskiest election in US history
US election

The riskiest election in US history

Donald Trump’s illness has rattled markets as investors try to understand the implications of an incapacitated American president or a bitterly contes…
8 Oct 2020

Most Popular

How will we repay our vast debt pile? Do we even need to?
Sponsored

How will we repay our vast debt pile? Do we even need to?

In his recent articles looking at different aspects of the fixed-income investing world, David Stevenson looked at inflation. Today he looks at a clos…
19 Oct 2020
The Bank of England should create a "Bitpound" digital currency and take the world by storm
Bitcoin

The Bank of England should create a "Bitpound" digital currency and take the world by storm

The Bank of England could win the race to create a respectable digital currency if it moves quickly, says Matthew Lynn.
18 Oct 2020
Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts
Bank accounts

Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts

Negative interest rates are likely to mean the introduction of fees for current accounts and other banking products. But that might make the UK bankin…
19 Oct 2020