US Forces Should Have Left Iraq and Syria Years Ago

It is not necessary to keep troops in these countries to prevent terrorist attacks against the United States.

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There’s a lot that could be said about Gen. McKenzie’s op-ed defending a continued U.S. military presence in Syria and Iraq, but these claims are clearly untrue:

In the end, American troops are in Syria and Iraq to prevent ISIS from being able to attack our homeland. By leaving, we could give them the time and space to re-establish a caliphate, increasing our risk at home.

It is not necessary to keep troops in these countries to prevent terrorist attacks against the United States. This was the fundamental error that the U.S. made for decades after 9/11, and it was this error that helped needlessly keep the U.S. at war in Afghanistan for decades. More important, the troops currently in Syria and Iraq aren’t really there to protect the U.S. against ISIS. They are there for a confused set of reasons, most of which have to do with opposing Iranian influence.

In practice, U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria are there to serve as targets for local militias. That’s a bad reason to put Americans in harm’s way, and there is no compelling reason to keep putting them at risk. U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria should have come home long ago, and every day that they stay they are being put in danger for no good reason. The Iraqi government no longer wants our troops there, and the Syrian government never wanted them in their country, and the U.S. shouldn’t try to stay where it isn’t wanted.

The “fight them over there” line is such tired propaganda that I don’t know where to start. ISIS didn’t have the ability to launch attacks against the U.S. when it was at the height of its power, and whatever remnants might still exist pose even less of a threat. The risk of attack from this group is practically non-existent, but any risk that might exist could be much more easily and cheaply managed through intelligence and law enforcement. As for the danger of a reestablished caliphate, ISIS has lots of local enemies that are more than capable of doing the job of keeping any remnants of the group from regaining a foothold.

Read the rest of the article at Eunomia

Daniel Larison is a contributing editor for and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

3 thoughts on “US Forces Should Have Left Iraq and Syria Years Ago”

  1. “It is not necessary to keep troops in these countries to prevent terrorist attacks against the United States.” The opposite is true. Stop the intervention in other countries would lessen the motivation for terror attacks in the U.S. The late Chalmers Johnson stated as much in his “Blowback” trilogy.

  2. If only millions could have heard this from many resources.

    General Wesley Clark: Wars Were Planned – Seven Countries In Five Years

    “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!”

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