Continetti: The Chances of War Increase With Troop Withdrawals and Mattis’ Resignation

• December 21, 2018 8:44 am


Washington Free Beacon editor in chief Matthew Continetti said Thursday that the chances of war have increased now that the United States is withdrawing troops from Syria and Secretary of Defense James Mattis is resigning.

"There is this idea that all of these withdrawals, firing Mattis, removing Mattis, is going to make the world a more peaceful place. In my view that's completely wrong. In fact, if America withdraws, as we know, bad actors move in, and the chances of war have increased tonight," Continetti told Fox News anchor Bret Baier.

Mattis' abruptly submitted his resignation letter on Thursday after meeting President Donald Trump at the White House to discuss the president's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. It was reported Mattis tried to convince Trump to reverse his decision or at least let some troops remains but Trump refused. Trump tweeted that Mattis was "retiring" but Mattis' letter shows he resigned over policy disagreements with the president.

The Wall Street Journal and other outlets reported Wednesday that the Trump administration planned to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria. There are currently 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria that were there to train local forces in fighting ISIS. The U.S. also provided air and technical support to Kurdish and U.S.-backed rebel forces. The U.S. began airstrikes in Syria in 2014 and ground troops were sent in 2015 to combat ISIS.

Trump's decision was met with fierce criticism and rebuke by some members of his own party.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) called it an "Obama-like mistake." Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) called it a "grave error," and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.) said Trump's tweet about ISIS being defeated is "simply not true." Sen. Cory Gardner (R., Colo.) urged Trump to halt his decision.

Some senators, like Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.), praised Trump's decision.

Baier outlined how officials are characterizing Mattis' decision and when it happened.

"A senior official is telling [Fox reporter] Jen Griffin this was not a forced resignation. The Pentagon is saying, ‘not forced resignation.' He informed his staff after returning from the White House this afternoon," Baier said. "He met with the president at 3 p.m., he called his staff for meeting a little after 5, he had handed in his resignation letter and obviously, Matthew, you can extrapolate why that gets to that point."

"Mattis, one of the most popular members of the cabinet, along with Ambassador Nikki Haley who is also departing at the end of the year. The word that stuck out to me was ‘alliances.' Mattis has had this long-held belief that alliances are force multipliers, that in fact alliances are the instruments of American power and you need to sustain them. They are what increase the deterrent edge," Continetti said. "If I think people in Washington are shocked, I think people in foreign capitals are going to be even more shocked and more worried about this move."