During the 2016 election, many voters were dismayed by both major-party candidates. Hillary Clinton was the personification of the Washington establishment foreign-policy hawk, with her dismal track record of urging ill-conceived military interventions. And Donald Trump, who railed against squandering American blood and treasure abroad, possessed neither the knowledge nor the experience nor the discipline nor the character to steer America’s approach to geopolitics in a better direction.
As if those choices weren't dispiriting enough, I fretted that for all Donald Trump’s denunciations of the Iraq War and promises to spend money at home rather than abroad, a careful assessment of his words showed that his own instincts were interventionist—that he was no less likely than his opponent to blunder into a major war.
In Syria today, President Trump is risking just such a conflict.
“American forces and American allies are not only taking territory from ISIS, they’re holding that territory against regime forces,” David French writes at National Review. “There’s a word for what happens when a foreign power takes and holds territory without the consent of the sovereign state —‘invasion.’ In many ways, current American policy is a lighter-footprint, less ambitious version of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. We’re using local allies, but our own boots are on the ground, and we’re directly defending our forces and our allies from threats from Syria’s own government.” In his estimation, “the key warring parties increasingly face a stark choice—agree to a de facto partition of the country or inch toward a great-power conflict.”