Shepard Smith, an anchor for Fox News, suggested
that a possible motivation behind President Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops from
Syria could be the “politics of distraction.” Smith questioned whether it is designed to
get people talking about other things before eventually deciding to bring them back. But the Monday afternoon guest on “Shepard
Smith Reporting,” Brookings Institution senior fellow Michael O’Hanlon, had a different
theory behind the withdrawal of troops. Smith started the segment by accusing Trump
of “leaving the Kurds to slaughter,” and then he asked O’Hanlon if there was “another
way” to view it. O’Hanlon expressed his desire for Trump
to “reassess” his position, and he said only 1,000 troops are needed “to keep some
degree of stability” in northeast Syria. “I ask because you wonder how much of this
really is the politics of distraction,” the Fox News anchor said. And then he asked
O’Hanlon if troops were already on the move. “There is a lot on the president today.
There’s a second whistleblower. There is so much going on, a late-night announcement
like this, and then all of the Republicans are turning on him, the leader in the Senate,
Lindsey Graham – you name it – Republicans have come out against him on this. So you
wonder if it is not one of those things to get people to talk about all day and then
at some point and he’ll go, ‘eh, never mind.’” “There is that possibility,” said the
Brookings Institute researcher, “but you know, even though I’m in favor of staying
in Syria and I’m against the president’s recent decision, I think he speaks for a lot
of people in his frustration with the seemingly interminable Middle East wars that are also
very hard to understand.” O’Hanlon went on to describe the “moving
parts” and complexities behind the conflict before rendering his opinion on Trump’s
motivation. “If you are President Trump and you’ve
got a million issues on your plate, there’s probably a temptation to say, I don’t want
anymore to do with this conflict,” he said. “I sense that is where he’s coming from
more than anything else. I think it is bad way to make policy, but I have some degree
of sympathy.”

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