President Donald J. Trump, joined by First Lady Melania Trump, addresses his remarks to U.S. troops Wednesday, December 26, 2018, at the Al-Asad Airbase in Iraq. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
An end to ‘endless wars’? Don’t believe it

Americans have lots on their minds these days — a deadly pandemic, a devastated economy, urban unrest, a national reckoning with racism, hurricanes and wildfires and, at the highest levels of government, epic dysfunction. Oh, yes, and a presidential election. But they would do well to pay at least a modicum of attention to the latest plot twist in what used to be called the Global War on Terrorism.

In accepting the Republican Party’s nomination for a second term, President Trump bragged, “I have kept out of new wars and our troops are coming home.” That statement is nominally accurate. Indeed, on Friday, his administration announced plans to reduce the number of U.S. troops still in Iraq more than 17 years after the United States invaded that country.

Yet Trump’s claim is also profoundly misleading. In fact, his promise to end America’s “endless wars” in the Middle East remains unfulfilled. Syria offers an illuminating case in point.

The rationale for U.S. military involvement in Syria, dating back nearly a decade, has evolved. Initially, the aim was to assist Syrian militants attempting to overthrow the country’s leader, dictator Bashar Assad. That effort has definitively failed. A subsequent goal was to destroy Islamic State. Today it no longer exists as a territorial entity, although thousands of insurgents remain at large.

Read the full article in The Los Angeles Times.

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