To think the U.S. is the key to building a modern Syrian state from scratch is to engage in poor judgment and wishful thinking.
President Joe Biden’s national-security staff is in the midst of a number of internal foreign-policy reviews on a range of issues, from the U.S. force posture in Afghanistan to the multifaceted challenges posed by China.
U.S. policy in Syria, however, appears to be in a largely immovable state. If the country weren’t playing host to approximately 900 U.S. troops, such lethargy wouldn’t be much of an issue. But the U.S. military is still very much in the middle of Syria’s ten-year civil war, and the reasons supplied for prolonged troop presence there — nearly two years after the Islamic State lost the last patch of its territorial caliphate — are tired and unconvincing.
The president doesn’t need months of study before devising a viable Syria policy. The most effective course of action for the U.S. is in plain sight and has been for a while: Get out militarily and hand the problem over to regional stakeholders who have more of a legitimate interest in solving it.