American troops are needlessly risking life and limb because of policy paralysis and lack of political courage, writes Dan Caldwell in The American Conservative.

When the Economist’s Gregg Carlstrom interviewed an American diplomat last year, he asked about the Biden Administration’s Syria policy. In response, according to Carlstrom, that official “shrugged and laughed.”

One group certainly not laughing about President Biden’s Syria policy (or lack thereof) is the over 70 U.S. troops injured in attacks by Iranian-aligned militias on American bases in Syria and Iraq since the beginning of the Israel–Hamas war. This number includes over two dozen troops who have suffered life-altering traumatic brain injuries. Additionally, an American contractor supporting these troops died from cardiac arrest during an attack on Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq, where I spent time as an U.S. Marine over 15 years ago.

These troops are in Iraq and Syria as part of a self-defeating combat operation that has largely flown under the radar of the American people for the last several years. The Biden administration prefers this lack of scrutiny. They declared combat operations over in Iraq at the end of 2021—a declaration not reciprocated by Iran’s proxies—and have largely left Syria policy on autopilot since taking office.

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