Despite President Donald Trump having spoken regularly throughout his first term about his intentions to cease American involvement in foreign wars, the bipartisan political establishment in Washington, D.C. exploded in hyperbolic outrage at the news that he would be withdrawing all remaining U.S. forces from northern Syria.
During an event at the White House on Monday, President Trump spoke at length about his decision to withdraw troops from Syria. One of the factors he cited was just how disheartening it was for him to send letters or make phone calls to the families of service members killed while serving in foreign conflicts.
Withdrawal from Syria
The event at the White House was actually focused on the signing of a new trade agreement with Japan, but, as has become typical, the media establishment decided it would rather ask the president about anything other than what they were specifically there to cover.
During his remarks to the assembled journalists, Trump was asked several questions about the decision to pull all remaining U.S. service members out of northern Syria and allow the various nations in the region — namely, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, as well as others — to settle their age-old disputes among themselves without further American intervention.
The president also made it clear that he had consulted extensively with military and other experts and considered a range of viewpoints regarding whether to exit the region entirely or remain there as a “police force” for an unspecified period of time — something he was no longer inclined to permit.
“The hardest thing I have to do”
Eventually, the president touched on what may have tipped the scales in favor of withdrawing troops from Syria — the letters of condolences he has to sign and send to the heartbroken parents and spouses of fallen service members.
“And, you know, I have to sign letters often to parents of young soldiers that were killed,” Trump said. “And it’s the hardest thing I have to do in this job. I hate it. I hate it.”
“Afghanistan. I signed one the other day — Iraq, Syria. They get blown up by mines. They get taken out by a sniper. And I have to write letters to people. And we make each letter different. Each person is different. And we make them personal. But no matter what you do, it’s devastating,” he continued.
“The parents will never be the same. The families will never be the same. People are killed. Many people are still being killed. It’s going to go on that way for perhaps a long time,” Trump said.
“And we’re willing to do what we have to do, but there has to be an end game. And if you stay, it’s going to be the same thing. Eventually, you’re going to have to leave. It’s going to be the same thing,” he added.
Compassionate commander in chief
To be sure, the decision to entirely withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria is fraught with conflicting goals and interests, and there are certainly risks inherent to the move that may arguably outweigh its potential benefits.
That said, President Trump’s top priority is keeping America safe and ensuring that American soldiers do not die in vain. Those who are quick to criticize this decision should take his compassion for the grieving families of lost American servicemembers to heart.