Small Wars Journal

In a Flash, U.S. Military Policy Turns Inward and Echoes Across the Globe

Sat, 12/22/2018 - 4:35am

In a Flash, U.S. Military Policy Turns Inward and Echoes Across the Globe by Helene Cooper – New York Times

Over the course of 24 extraordinary hours this week, 17 years of American military policy was thrown out the window as President Trump spurned his defense secretary’s plea to keep United States troops in Syria and began the long process of pulling out of Afghanistan.


On Friday morning, America’s 1.3 million active-duty service members woke up to a new reality: Their leader, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, had resigned over the Syria withdrawal and Mr. Trump’s rejection of international alliances, and everything he and other military leaders had told them through three presidencies had suddenly been abandoned.


Terrorists must be challenged abroad before they end up here at home? No longer. Americans must defend their friends and stand up to authoritarians in places like Russia and Iran? A thing of the past.


As Mr. Trump overturned the post-9/11 national security consensus, the reverberations spanned the globe. In northeastern Syria, Special Operations troops who just the day before were fighting in the dirt around Hajin, the last Islamic State stronghold in the country, were now telling their Kurdish allies that they would be leaving them alone in the fight.


A continent and an ocean away at the Pentagon, the 26,000 men and women who work there digested Mr. Mattis’s resignation letter, in which he laid out, in stark terms, that he was leaving because the commander in chief did not believe in “the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships” that has preserved peace for decades.

And in Afghanistan, half of the 14,000 Marines and soldiers there were learning that they would soon begin leaving the war, which has claimed almost 2,300 American military lives since 2001…

Read on.