Trump’s Decision to Pull Troops out of Syria
In the mission to defeat ISIS, the United States has made significant progress to retake land controlled by the terrorist group. ISIS, or Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, informed Time News, had taken control of 34,000 square miles of Middle Eastern territory. According to Wilson Center, “after the United States and other countries’ armies took action against the terrorists in mid-2014…ISIS territory has been reduced by 98 percent….as of 2018,” informed BBC News.
The terrorists ruled these lands based on Sharia Law, which prohibits converting to another religion and restricts the rights of women. The root of the terrorists’ extreme actions against Syrians, according to Time News, is “the death of Mohammed, and the two sides, the Sunni and Shiites disagreeing on who should succeed him.” The Washington Post reported that, “ISIS can be traced back to a group called Al-Qaeda from Iraq.” The extremists attempted to create a version of a caliphate ruled by their ideologies, calling it the Islamic State. Time News explains the difference between a caliphate territory and the terrorist group’s land by saying that ISIS is radical, while a caliphate is supposed to be peaceful.
On December 19, 2018, President Donald Trump posted on Twitter, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.” President Trump pulled American troops out of Syria because he decided that the effects of leaving American troops in a foreign country was detrimental. Two factors affecting Trump’s decision to withdraw troops were the cost and completion of mission objectives. Trump said on ABC News, “I want to get [American troops] out [of Syria]. I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation.” He explained that the troops had already taken most of the territory back from ISIS; recovering major cities that had been overrun by the terrorists.
Pablo Rayon, a 12th grade student at La Jolla High, said, “In President Trump’s position, he is informed on the status of ISIS’s defeat and that he did not come up with the idea on his own.” Rayon stated that President Trump has access to advisors and detailed statistics on the reach of ISIS’ power over Syrian territory. Although he had access to information on ISIS’ influence in Syria, according to the New York Times, “In overruling his generals and civilian advisers, Mr. Trump fulfilled his frequently expressed desire to bring home American forces from a messy foreign entanglement.” The New York Times reported that Trump went against his advisors on the status of ISIS’ defeat by not acting in accordance to their knowledge that the threat of ISIS was not completely eliminated in Syria.
Many still question whether ISIS is truly defeated and whether American troops in Syria have completed their mission. Former Director of the U.S. Government’s National Counterterrorism Center, Nicolas Rasmussen, defined the word defeated: “While [ISIS] is definitely degraded, defeat suggests a condition that is irreversible or one in which ISIS no longer poses a serious threat to the U.S.” In short, Rasmussen explained that stating defeat is problematic since that there are still ISIS terrorists in Syria. He explained that although the Islamic state has been defeated, the terrorists have not been completely eliminated and their ideologies still affect the Middle East.
Although disorganized and without a central territory, terrorists still have the potential to cause harm to the people of Syria and neighboring countries. 9th grader, Gabrielle Penaranda, theorized, “ISIS could have underground members in hiding and there should be troops on alert in case ISIS comes back. To emphasize the level of effort and resources required of major countries to contain ISIS, Independent News explains that, “It brought together the bitterest of enemies to defeat the caliphate.” An example involves countries such as Russia and America, who are generally enemies, yet chose to cooperate in order to eradicate the ISIS terrorists. Taking this into consideration, the decision to pull the troops out of Syria was not one taken lightly. The decision to pull troops out of Syria posed a major dilemma: On one hand, keeping soldiers in a foreign country after their mission was completed is costly and detrimental to American forces. However, pulling troops out increases the risk of ISIS returning and ultimately undoing the progress that has been made.
After American troops recovered the ISIS territory in Syria, there were concerns that ISIS would resurface when the troops left. The logic behind recalling the soldiers from Syria after completing their initial mission is challenged by the risk of ISIS returning and undoing the United States’ progress in recovering the Syrian territory. There is debate over whether ISIS had been defeated in the first place; some considering the fact that they could return to power in Syria and in its neighboring countries.