President Trump is taking heat from all points on the political spectrum for announcing an immediate withdrawal of some 2,000 U.S. forces in Syria, but retired U.S. Navy Captain Chuck Nash believes Trump is doing the right thing while acknowledging the decision leaves several uncertainties in the Middle East.
On Wednesday, Trump declared that ISIS was defeated in Syria, a claim roundly rejected by lawmakers and national security experts who say it damages the credibility of the United States to suddenly get out before ISIS is fully crushed.
Nash says Trump is just sticking to his promise to neutralize the ISIS threat and then get out. He likens it to President George Bush’s handling of the Gulf War as the U.S.-led coalition evicted Iraq from Kuwait.
“We did that in blinding time. There were a lot of people saying, ‘Keep going to Baghdad.’ No, that’s mission creep. A lot of people, me included, said he did the right thing. This was after Vietnam, where mission creep bogged us down into a horrible situation,” said Nash.
Nash says Trump vowed to stay in Syria only until ISIS was crushed and he says that has largely happened because of the Trump administration’s approach to fighting ISIS.
“We took off the restrictive rules of engagement. We put the right kind of people on the ground and we let the right people do the fighting, backed up by the right people. It’s been much smarter the way we’ve done it and if you want to look at tonnage of bombs, (it’s) drastically different from what happened during the Obama administration,” said Nash.
Trump’s critics are accusing him of cutting and running similar to President Barack Obama’s withdrawal of all U.S. forces in Iraq in 2011. Nash says there is a big difference.
“What’s different from what President Trump is doing than what President Barack Obama did was (Obama) advertised a pullout some point down the road. That just gave the enemy time to prepare. What Trump has done is pull the rug out from under them and said we’re pulling those 2,000 troops back,” said Nash.
Nash also believes Trump reached his decision based on the evidence presented by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan last month.
“(Erdogan) made a speech on Nov. 27 in which he said there were no real ISIS fighters left in Syria, that there are just some gangs in there stirring things up, downplaying the quality and quantity of what remains of ISIS,” said Nash.
Domestic experts estimate 30,000 ISIS terrorists remain engaged in the fight.
Nash does worry about Iran trying to grow it’s influence in the region with the U.S. puling back. He also fears Turkey will mercilessly target Kurdish fighters and that U.S. must stand up for those allies.
“The Kurds are the people we should be supporting in Northern Iraq. We have gained some relationship with the Kurds in Northern Syria because they have been the bulwark of who we have been supporting up there against ISIS. They’ve been doing the vast majority of the fighting against ISIS.
“We are kind of betwixt and between. We can’t let them hang out to dry,” said Nash.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Capt. Nash explain why our improving relations with Turkey may help to protect the Kurds and how the U.S. is not really actually leaving the fight against ISIS entirely.