MEL GURTOV – There are no winners, here or abroad, in Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria. But there are important losers: innocent lives and prospects for peace. However remote a political settlement in Syria and Afghanistan might have been before, it is even more remote now. With the US largely out of the picture, incentives for adversaries—Syria and Russia in Syria, the Taliban in Afghanistan—to negotiate war-ending or at least violence-reduction agreements are now gone. Civil war is likely to gain intensity. Civilian casualties and refugee numbers will rise substantially. A new regional war is possible. The defeat of peace should be the focus of critics’ concern.
FINLAY LEWIS – They could caucus in a phone booth. They are known as “realists,” and their default position on questions of foreign policy and national security is one of skepticism about the value of interventions abroad and of respect for privacy at home. In a debate largely being litigated within the ranks of the Republican Party on Capitol Hill, the realists don’t have a prayer of prevailing in an up-or-down vote against the neoconservative wing of the party, proponents of an interventionist ethos to embed American values in lands far removed from domestic shores and traditions.