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False pretense

Jan 02,2019 - Last updated at Jan 02,2019

One of the reasons offered by US President Donald Trump for ordering the withdrawal of US troops from the north of Syria was his conviction that his country can no longer remain the policeman for world order. As a matter of fact, however, the US military interventions in many parts of the world were not ever intended to just police international peace and security, but rather to serve the US’ own geopolitical goals and interests.

Wherever and whenever Washington deployed its military, it was always to promote and protect its own interests. So why all of a sudden President Trump came to the conclusion that the intervention of US military must no longer be used to police regional or international order to explain his decision to disengage militarily from Syria? Of course, as can be expected, President Trump backtracked slowly but surely from that ill-conceived decision by ordering the slowing of the withdrawal of the US soldiers after his talk with Senator Lindsey Graham, who must have convinced Trump that the US presence in Syria is not a favour to Syria or to world peace but rather to serve US interests in the area.

Trump's changed position now is to slow down the withdrawal of US military from Syria to a trickle, a euphemism for changing his mind on withdrawing from Syria altogether. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan must be scratching his head for a response after investing so heavily in the redeployment of his army in and around the area in question, in anticipation of a massive Turkish involvement in northern Syria.

To be sure, other major powers, like Russia that maintains a strong military presence in Syria to the extent it has turned the Arab country into what is virtually a vassal state for Moscow, are perplexed with Trump’s change of heart on Syria.

If Moscow can afford to deploy thousands and thousands of its armed forces in Syria and establish permanent naval and air bases in the country to gain a permanent foothold in the Mediterranean basin when its economy is not so strong, surely the US would be tempted to do the same, even at a much smaller scale. The difference is that the Russian leader Vladimir Putin thinks strategically and admits it, while President Trump thinks otherwise, but does not admit it.

So there is no truth to Trump’s claim that the US has been acting benevolently to protect international peace and order. Washington, like Moscow and another major capitals, has always put its own geopolitical interests ahead of all other considerations when its soldiers set foot in a foreign nation. There is no shame in such a posture. That is how power politics around the world work. The US is no exception, with or without Trump as president.

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