Foreign Policy

Bringing Them Home? Trump Commits 1,800 More Troops to the Middle East

If Trump wants credit for ending wars in the Middle East, he'll have to actually reduce the number of Americans deployed there.


It was just four days ago that President Donald Trump explained his decision to move American troops out of one part of Syria by saying that it was "time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars…and bring our soldiers home."

On Friday, the Trump administration announced it would be sending about 1,800 additional troops to the Middle East.

In a statement, Pentagon spokesman Jonathon Hoffman said the new deployments were part of an overall strategy "to assure and enhance the defense of Saudi Arabia."At a press conference, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the new deployments were made in consultation with the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Defense.

Including the newly announced deployment, the U.S. will have increased the number of troops deployed to the Middle East by 14,000 since May, CNN reports.

Getting out? Bringing them home? Hardly. As Reason contributor Bonnie Kristian pointed out earlier this week, Trump's "haphazard half-measure" in Syria was not a meaningful step toward ending the endless wars. "If Trump is serious about liquidating unnecessary, failed, costly overseas missions," she wrote," he must actually end them."

But Trump says he has "no plans at all" to withdraw American forces from Iraq, where they've been fighting since 2003. His promise to withdraw from Afghanistan has so far failed to materialize (though the administration is involved in negotiations with the Taliban there). When Congress passed a bipartisan resolution that would have cut off American aid to Saudi Arabia's ongoing war in Yemen—a conflict that has triggered a famine, killing an estimated 50,000 civilians—Trump vetoed it.

And whether or not you agree with Trump's move this week in Syria, it should be obvious that moving a few dozen troops from one side of Syria to another is not the same as bringing them home.

Trump has said the right things about bipartisan support for endless wars, and so far he has resisted the urge to expand America's Middle East quagmire into Iran. But that's simply not good enough. Instead of extracting the country from these messy and unwinnable wars in the Middle East, Trump is sending more troops to boost an authoritarian regime—and risking that they'll be drawn into a head-on confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran.