As a response to calls on the US administration for a rapid withdrawal from various regions around the world, and the repatriation of soldiers before the end of President Trump's term on January 20, Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell spoke two days ago, and voiced his concerns that: “A precipitous drawdown in Afghanistan or Iraq would be a mistake,” and it goes without saying that he believes the same holds true for a drawdown in Syria. This came as Acting Secretary of Defense, Christopher Miller declared that the withdrawal would effectively commence on January 15, five days before the official departure.
This call for a quick exit and the response it received from the most important Republican figure helped calm down the post-election rowdy charade and further clarified the picture. Despite fraud allegations, Trump's team did slip into the 2024 election mode before leaving the White House. The campaign of discredit, faulty devices and voters who came back from the dead, is nothing but an electoral stunt designed to forge the next version of the campaign in such a way that casts doubt on the legitimacy of President Biden over the next four years.
But the most eye-catching were demands for withdrawal of forces within a short period of time and at this particular time. Once again, these calls come to fulfill the electoral promises made by the Trump administration to its grassroots, as it seeks to take full advantage of them for the benefit of the upcoming election campaign, in addition to embarrassing Biden's administration that is likely to do the opposite or attempt to disrupt Trump's last decisions. It is as if the Trump administration is saying, “We brought our children back safely into the arms of their families, but you will bring them back in coffins.”
That is why, if this interpretation proves right, it makes no sense for the current administration to strike Iran, as the New York Times reported. Such a strike would contradict all electoral promises not to drag the country into another uncontrollable war or conflict. Perhaps Fox News put it more accurately when it said that President Trump was presented with options, but he refused to consider them.
These were clearly temporary decisions made on the electoral, not strategic, clock. Unlike the victorious leader Mitch McConnell, who will remain in his seat in Congress, losers, who are on their way out, are rushing to install these decisions, hoping to take advantage of them in the future.
A close look at McConnell’s speech reveals a strategic and realistic vision, not associated with quick or personal gains. He talked about the danger of a hasty retreat that would create a vacuum that will only be filled by forces that would threaten the interests of America and its allies in the region. He expressed his concern that if you leave terrorists alone, they probably will not leave you alone. What President Trump's administration achieved was weakening the Iranian regime and killing the world's bloodiest terrorists, Soleimani and Baghdadi. If these calls for a rapid departure (driven by electoral motives) are answered, the region will enter a state of mayhem and jeopardize those achievements.
Mitch's vision is in line with that of President-elect Biden because both believe in the importance of preserving the US-created international order. Despite the differences between the two parties, the two men both belong to the Cold War generation and share a similar vision of the US overseas role and its relationship with its allies, which explains why President-elect Biden supported the Iraq war in the past, despite the opposition of the majority of his party. Out of his belief that Saddam Hussein has compromised the stability of the international order, Biden saw that he had to be defeated. Now, he takes the same stance toward Turkey’s President Erdoğan, whom he said should be overthrown in an electoral coup, not a military one.
Despite all the demands for vengeance and revenge, and accusations of fraud and conspiracy being thrown around to overturn the election results, rapid troop withdrawals do reflect the reality of things on the ground.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, Saudi Arabian outlet Asharq al-Awsat.
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