Why Trump Pulled Out
Political pundits on Left and Right seem to agree that Trump's foreign policy decisions are "incomprehensible." Some have resorted to arm-chair psychoanalysis to try to explain Trump's actions. Others imagine that Trump's opinion is swayed by whatever powerful figure has spoken to him last. This confusion is not a Trump problem; it's a media problem. Trump's foreign policy choices follow a straightforward and easily-digestible political philosophy. His actions in Syria are no exception.
The philosophy that guides Trump's foreign policy decisions in Syria and everywhere else is one that our neoliberal political establishment has forgotten exists, but which would be immediately recognized by any American president who served prior to 1950. I'm talking, of course, about nationalism. No group hates nationalism more than the pre-Trump Republican foreign policy establishment, i.e. the Right half of "the swamp." On a recent Remnant podcast with Jonah Goldberg, Ron Pollack—a swamp creature who has never apologized for his rabid endorsement of the Iraq War—explained the geopolitical strategy of establishment Republicans in Syria. America must show a "willingness to stay indefinitely," he said, so that our presence can provide useful leverage against Assad (and, by proxy, against Russia).