As President Donald Trump marks two years of his presidency, he seems to executing his promises made during the campaigns. Last few weeks of 2018 witnessed some crucial decisions coming abruptly from Trump’s end, which indicated an unforeseen monumental shift in the US foreign policy, leaving top officials of his own administration upended.
On December 19, the President spooked the White House via Twitter, announcing his plans to pull out US troops from Syria — a decision that came without an interagency review, which is a methodical process of developing options for the President to pick from. Moreover, there were no major deliberations with the Republican senators, Pentagon officials or the countries in the US-led coalition against ISIS.
The announcement came five days after a phone call conversation between Trump and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Reportedly, it was organized for Trump to reinforce a warning to Turkey to refrain from moving militarily into the northeast quadrant of Syria.
According to a source, Erdoğan rather hit back Trump, asking him why there are still 2,000 US troops in Syria, in spite of accomplishing its mission in the Islamic state. He said that Turkey could wipe out the remnants of ISIS and stabilize Syria, while coordinating with the US. And what the Turkish President said certainly made sense to the President.
The White House tried to play down the call, saying it was “not something” that Trump “discussed with President Erdoğan.” However, the air was cleared by Erdoğan, who publicly announced that Trump’s decision followed Turkey’s promise to finish the mission in Syria.
A US official said that if there had been no call with the Turkish President, there wouldn’t have been any announcement to withdraw the troops from Syria, which seems to be a legitimate conclusion.
Moreover, a day before Trump’s announcement, the State Department had also approved the sale of Patriot missile systems to Turkey; a demand which had been long-standing, pushing Turkey to turn to Russia to buy its S-400 missiles.
While the events have served in connecting the loopholes, the conclusion is strongly in defiance of Trump. The President seems to have forgotten the national interests, while satisfying the demands of his allies. However, the reason as to why Trump is walking as per the directions of the Turkish leader remains uncertain.
Besides, many are bewildered with the shifting US strategies, which also include an alteration in America’s longest war in Afghanistan that began over 17 years ago. Trump’s another massive decision to withdraw half of the US troops from Afghanistan was being considered as a mortification of the country’s power in negotiating a political deal between Taliban and Afghan government to safeguard thousands of American livers, as well as the expenses incurred after 9/11.
The dual decisions of the President brought severe impacts, opening with the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis, deemed the most respected member of Trump’s Cabinet.
The havoc caused by Trump’s decisions within his own administration has raised doubts over the solidarity of the country at an international level.
The President of the Middle East Institute, Paul Salem has reportedly stated that the internal feud “emphasize that this Administration is hardly one that a country can make a deal with, that it has no unity of purpose, and that you don’t know who you’re talking to.”
While Trump has his own reasons for downsizing, the decisions reflect the shrinking US commitment in the Middle East and neighboring South Asia. Some believe that the American presence in the region offered a political and psychological satisfaction.
Trump’s twin decisions of withdrawing the US troops are being considered as highly irrational, the wisdom of which is becoming the top most debatable issue. Neglecting the national interests and theories, the President has taken decisions that have degraded the country’s repute at a global level.
The United States, which is the most influential power in the world, is now being seen as an unreliable and a dissented country. Trump’s independent decisions have not just tainted the global reputation of the country, but have also created possibilities for other rival countries to overpower the US.