Donald Trump has been telling us since the first day of his presidency that the American president should no longer be the leader of the free world and that he personally has no interest in the job. This month, he made good on his words by unleashing chaos in northern Syria.
Trump’s actions empowered American adversaries ranging from the Islamic State militant group to Iran, Russia, Turkey and the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and abandoned the local Syrian forces, especially Kurdish ones, who fought side by side with U.S. troops against ISIS. In defending his decision, Trump insisted America has nothing at stake in Syria and can let others handle an Islamic State insurgency.
This ingratitude not only will do lasting damage to America’s reputation as a trustworthy ally, it also rejects the importance of American foreign goals more than seven decades in the making: containing an expansionist Russia; supporting allies, particularly those most likely to embrace democracy and human rights; and orienting U.S. policy away from the pre-WWII fiction that Americans at home will be safe from threats abroad — whether China, Iran or ISIS — if the U.S. would only retreat from the world.