Inside the Attempt to Derail Trump’s Erratic Syria Withdrawal by Anne Gearan, Josh Dawsey and John Hudson – Washington Post
President Trump dispatched national security adviser John Bolton on a cleanup mission a week ago, with a three-day itinerary in Israel that was intended to reassure a close ally that Trump’s impulsive decision to immediately withdraw troops from Syria would be carried out more slowly and with important caveats.
The plan seemed to work at first. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was all smiles, thanking Bolton profusely for the show of U.S. support.
But by the end of the week, attempts to dissuade Trump or place conditions on the withdrawal faded as the U.S. military announced it had “begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria.” A multipronged effort by alarmed U.S. national security officials, foreign allies and Republican hawks in Congress to significantly alter or reverse Trump’s decision was effectively a bust.
Since Trump’s abrupt Syria announcement last month, a tug-of-war with allies and his advisers has roiled the national security apparatus over how, and whether, to execute a pullout. Netanyahu spoke to Trump two days before the president’s announcement and again a day afterward. French President Emmanuel Macron tried to get the president to change his mind. Even Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who liked the policy, was concerned it could not be safely executed so quickly.
The episode illustrates the far-reaching consequences of Trump’s proclivity to make rash decisions with uneven follow-through, according to accounts of the discussions from more than a dozen current and former U.S. officials and international diplomats. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matters frankly…