It’s a bit rich to watch the bipartisan backlash to President Trump’s withdrawal of troops from northern Syria. Members of Congress from both parties have blasted the president for scaling back U.S. military involvement, even though they never authorized any involvement in the first place.
Still, there’s no disputing the fact that the situation in Syria is rapidly deteriorating. A week after Turkish warplanes started strafing Kurdish targets along the Syria-Turkey border, the situation on the ground has only become more disastrous. Hundreds of people have been killed, chaos has displaced nearly 150,000 others, Turkish proxies have committed grisly executions, and hundreds of Islamic State detainees and relatives have reportedly used the violence to escape captivity.
Amid the chaos, Republicans and Democrats in Washington still don’t understand why Trump made the decision to pull U.S. forces from the area. Yes, it’s true that this withdrawal made a Turkish military incursion into Kurdish-controlled northern Syria a smoother proposition. But these same hawkish lawmakers refuse to explain how keeping our soldiers in place would have accomplished anything — other than keeping Americans in harm’s way, that is.
Nonetheless, the Trump administration recognizes it has a political problem on its hands.
This is one reason why the president authorized far-ranging sanctions on the Turkish economy if Turkish forces commit indiscriminate violence against the Kurdish population. Meanwhile, members of Congress are writing a variety of sanctions bills, including one from Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen that would prohibit weapons sales to Turkey and sanction any third party who transacts with the Turkish military.
The most significant response, however, may come from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who during a press conference last weekend previewed a resolution that would condemn Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria.
“We will be putting on the floor of the Senate and the House … a joint resolution that urges the president to undo his decision to do everything he can to protect the Kurds, to do everything that we must do to prevent ISIS terrorists from escaping, and make sure that Turkey respects existing agreements related to Syria and with the United States,” the New York Democrat toldthe media. “I’m going to work so hard to pass this resolution, this joint resolution, this bipartisan resolution to try and get the president to undo what he has done.”