Dan DePetris at Responsible Statecraft
Adesnik and Green observe that “U.S. operations in Syria have demonstrated that long-term efforts are sustainable, requiring the commitment of modest military assets deployed in a largely supporting role.” But one has to ask the following-up question: to what end? And how can we be certain that the long-term, “by, with, and through” campaigns they are so idealistic about don’t proliferate into totally different missions far removed from the reason U.S. troops were deployed in the first place?
Unfortunately, Americans are already witnessing this phenomenon play out in Syria. Indeed, if U.S. policy in Syria was really about defeating ISIS — a mission Washington accomplished over a year and a half ago — U.S. troops would already be back with their families to celebrate the holidays. But alas, the Trump administration’s Syria policy is not so much about fighting terrorism as it is about degrading Iran’s influence and pressuring Bashar al-Assad to resign, two objectives that are about as inconceivable as climbing Mt. Everest with a t-shirt and shorts. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to the words of former Syria envoy James Jeffrey, who admitted earlier this month that U.S. Syria policy is nothing but a subsection of its broader maximum pressure policy on Iran.