Trump's Syria decision endangered Americans and thrilled Putin. Now the top general in the region has spoken out.
Four-star Gen. Joseph Votel, who leads the fight against ISIS as commander of United States Central Command (Centcom), challenged Trump's erratic decision to pull out from Syria in an interview with CNN Friday.
"It would not have been my military advice at that particular time," Votel said of Trump's widely criticized decision, adding, "I would not have made that suggestion."
"We were keen to kind of stay along that track and make sure we finish the mission for which we were assigned," Votel said.
Votel — who oversees operations in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq — also seemed to suggest leaving the region in the way Trump decided will actually give ground to ISIS.
"(The caliphate) still has leaders, still has fighters, it still has facilitators, it still has resources, so our continued military pressure is necessary to continue to go after that network," Votel explained.
Earlier in February, Votel testified to Congress that Trump's claim that America defeated ISIS was untrue.
Trump announced in December 2018, without consulting the Department of Defense or State Department, that America would suddenly withdraw its 2,000 troops in Syria.
The decision, which directly affects the safety of American soldiers and Syrian civilians, was not even explained to congressional leaders. It was chaos.
"I have no idea what's going on," said then-Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) as Trump's decision rolled out in the media.
By contrast, the decision thrilled Russia and Vladimir Putin. In comments to reporters, Putin hailed Trump for making "the right decision" and slammed the actions of U.S. soldiers.
Trump's decision to withdraw, without any serious military or diplomatic consultation, is a coup for both Putin and al-Assad.
Votel's public statement makes it clear he has concerns about how Americans will be negatively affected by Trump's whims, and is concerned about the long-term negative effects on American power and influence.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.