Letter on US Troop Withdrawal from Syria

The following is a statement from the undersigned Veterans of the U.S. military on the President’s recent decision to withdraw U.S. armed forces from Syria:

Pres. Trump’s Recklessness

Near the end of The Great Gatsby, the book’s narrator, Nick Carraway, notes about the Buchanans, whose heedless actions have led to the murder of Gatsby, “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness … and let other people clean up the mess.” The parallels to President Trump’s recent abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. troops from along the Syrian-Turkish border are notable and disturbing.

Through his unwillingness to learn the facts, disdain for the advice of experts, and shortsightedness to weigh the consequences, Trump has made a bad situation worse. Most distressing about the President’s unilateral action is the abandonment of the Kurds, one of our most faithful allies.

Despite Administration warnings not to take military action, Turkey wasted no time in moving to crush the Kurds along its border with Syria. While these actions are at pause that is anything but certain, they have nevertheless displaced Kurds and enabled ISIS prisoners under their control to escape and create more bedlam in the future for us and the world.

At the upper levels of command, the U.S. military is a meritocracy. Rank is earned. The rank of Commander-in-Chief, by contrast, is political. Traditionally, those who have held this enormous power have surrounded themselves with career professionals and sought their input. Mr. Trump, however, claims he knows more about ISIS than the generals. As an overall aim, reducing American troop commitments around the globe is a good one, but one that requires a measured approach and takes into account long-range consequences.

The timing of the sudden and unexpected pullout not only leaves our Kurdish allies in an untenable predicament and our other allies operating in the Middle East confounded, it smacks of a desperate ploy by Mr. Trump to distract the nation’s attention from talk of impeachment. At the same time it plays into the hands of Assad, Erdogan, and Putin and besmirches more than two centuries of honorable American foreign policy and military tradition.

U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have personal relationships with Kurdish officials, and the decision to leave their outnumbered fighting forces at the mercy of Turkey’s army has justifiably galvanized their anger along with that of an outraged public. As veterans, we, the undersigned, support bipartisan congressional condemnation the President’s rash decision. We encourage good-faith efforts to restore the tarnished respect and honor our Department of State and military deserve, and meet our obligations to our allies. And we urge that our leaders find diplomatic means to end the conflicts in Syria.

Sincerely,

Spencer Benoit (US Army), Lowell

Michael Casey (US Army), Andover

Dean Contover (US Army), Chelmsford

Vito Anthony Couch (US Navy), Billerica

Brian Cowan (US Navy), Billerica

David Daniel (US Army), Westford

Philip Hureau (US Army), Lowell

Bill McDevitt (US Army), Newburyport

Frank McReynolds (US Army), Worcester

Quincy Ramos (US Marine Corps), Lowell

Cameron Socia (US Army), Leominster

Helmut Snyder (US Army), Westford

Charles R. Scoggins, Jr. (US Army), Lowell

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