Congress needs to reclaim its war-making powers
Thus the generals convinced Trump to send more troops to Afghanistan rather than bring U.S. forces home. They persuaded him to increase our military involvement in Syria. They appear to have changed his whole worldview from "America First" neo-isolationism to conventional hawkishness.
I have mixed feelings about all of this. On most days, I feel that Kelly, Mattis and McMaster (along with Tillerson) are the last line of defense between our great nation and the abyss. Trump's impulsiveness, belligerence and insecurity would be a dangerous combination in any commander, let alone the commander in chief. But the president respects military men, meaning that the generals may be able to keep him from doing something rash and apocalyptic that could get us all killed.
On the other hand, Trump had a point when he pledged to reassess the role of the United States in world affairs. Insofar as he's doing anything, it's the wrong thing: He's giving us more military action and less diplomacy, when it ought to be the other way around. But Trump's generals are not likely to come up with any sort of new paradigm for U.S. foreign policy, and I worry that the default posture is waging endless war in more and more places -- such as Niger.
Are U.S. troops necessary to contain the spread of Islamist militancy in the Sahel? Does the presence of U.S. forces win hearts and minds, or does it harden them against us? Are we prepared to stay for months? Years? Generations?
It's past time for the people's representatives in Congress to give Trump and the generals their marching orders.
Eugene Robinson's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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