“If he surrounds himself with good people, he will be a good president,” was the oft-quoted statement from people defending their decision to vote for President Donald Trump. Whether or not the advisers Trump surrounded himself with are “good,” Trump has another problem with his leadership: he doesn’t listen to them.
Trump has a problem making snap decisions and being wishy-washy when it comes to standing by those decisions.
The massive calamity that is the U.S. pulling out of Syria illustrates a prime example of Trump going back and forth with important decisions that have led to disastrous results. The conflict in Syria is a web of complications, but a few things are clear.
The U.S. troops were the main allies of Kurdish forces, fighting with them to keep the Islamic State group at bay. At the same time, U.S. presence dissuaded Russia and Turkey from taking action that would be detrimental to the U.S. and the Kurds. The Kurdish-U.S. alliance also prevented an alliance between the Kurds and the Syrian regime which has used chemical weapons on their people, according to the State Department, and are the clear bad guys.
In late 2018, Trump made the move to pull troops out of Syria because he claimed the U.S. had defeated ISIS forces once and for all. The facts suggested otherwise, and Trump relented to slowly withdrawing later. ISIS is still around today, by the way, and is shown to be gaining strength because of more recent developments.
Recently, Trump made and followed through with the decision to leave the fighting in Syria and abandon the Kurdish forces we had been supporting.
This act, which has been widely condemned by many on both sides of the aisle and led to a meltdown from Trump in front of Congress, was because Trump wanted to get troops out of the Middle East. A lofty idea with a much more complicated and dangerous solution, but fear not, Trump has gone back on this decision too.
The U.S. is sending 3,000 troops to Saudi Arabia, a country in the Middle East, according to the Pentagon. The Trump administration is also considering keeping troops in Syria to protect the oil reserves in the country, according to Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
Trump made a snap decision to pull troops out of Syria, which benefited our enemies, Russia and Turkey. It led to the escape of over 10,000 ISIS prisoners, according to U.S. officials. It led to the death of some of our staunchest allies in the region and left many of our own troops feeling ashamed of themselves for abandoning the Kurds.
Trump then listened to advisors and attempted to partially correct his own mistake, but the damage had already been done.
Trump stated that he makes gut decisions in an interview with the Washington Post in 2018.
"I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody's brain can ever tell me,” Trump said.
Trump’s gut was wrong in this case, and gut decisions are a dangerous way for a world leader to make decisions. The best or even just competent leaders rely on the advice of others and make decisions based on that advice and information.
Trump needs to start listening to his advisers and making more careful judgments. Decisions like the one made with Syria don’t just cost political capital and percentage points in a Gallup poll, they cost human lives.