When President Donald J. Trump announced to the world late last year that ISIS was defeated and the troops would be coming home, he may have jumped the gun – but not by much!
ISIS is getting wrecked in Syria and collapsing very quickly as they continue to get shelled at their final enclave in the nation, a far cry from when they peaked in influence during the Obama era.
“Before the clashes began, we thought there were 1,000-1,500 terrorists. In the past three days, of course, the terrorists endured casualties and today about 200 terrorists surrendered, so we think the number of terrorists could be around 1,000 give or take, in addition to civilians stuck inside,” said Mostafa Bali, who leads the media office for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), to Reuters reporters.
The final remnant of ISIS is holed up in Baghouz, their final stronghold in Syria. After dominating much of the nation at one point, the Islamic fighting force is only delaying the inevitable at this point. Hundreds of insurgents surrendered just last month with more than 38,000 people abdicating ISIS since the beginning of the year. Trump was obviously speaking from a position of serious insider knowledge when he declared victory late last year.
We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018
While this may not be perfect non-interventionism that would meet all of former Texas Congressman Ron Paul’s qualifications, Trump made some interesting moves to depart from his belligerent predecessors. He stopped a CIA program that was arming Islamic rebels in the region to destabilize the secular Bashar al-Assad regime. He also strengthened ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin even under immense establishment pressure not to do so in order to make sure that the countries could work together to destroy ISIS in the region.
“President Trump and President Putin today, meeting on the margins of the APEC conference in Da Nang, Vietnam, confirmed their determination to defeat ISIS in Syria,” read a joint statement from Putin and Trump released in 2017. This “collusion” sure ended up paying off for both countries!
Now ISIS circles the drains, and although war hawks like former Defense Secretary James Mattis may not like it, they will have to cope with the fact that US foreign policy will be dictated by the conventional wisdom of the military-industrial complex no longer. Although a small number of US troops will likely remain in Syria for the time being, the lesson to be learned here is non-intervention and cooperation with strategic partners like Russia and Syria is what the US must do moving forward.