Former Congressman Ron Paul has come out swinging against neoconservative voices in President Trump’s cabinet. John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, he said, should be punished for insubordination.
President Trump’s announcement last month that he would withdraw all US forces from Syria and the news that he was mulling a partial pullout from Afghanistan seemed to be the fulfilment of an often-repeated campaign promise. “I don’t want to be in Syria forever,” Trump said in December. “It’s sand and death.”
Nevertheless, war enthusiasts in both parties and their cheerleaders in the media reacted with shock. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, known in DC as a foreign policy hawk, called the pull-out a “colossal” mistake and a “grave error that’s going to have significant repercussions in the years and months to come.”
However, Trump found resistance coming from within his own cabinet too. First, National Security Advisor John Bolton walked back the initial 60-100 day timeline for the Syria withdrawal. Bolton noted that the withdrawal would only occur after the US had drawn up a contingency plan with its allies in the region to protect Kurdish fighters in Syria from Turkish forces, and to contain Iranian influence in the war-stricken country.
Then, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took off on a whirlwind trip to the Middle East in the new year, assuring allies that the US would remain open to intervention in Syria, and would maintain a “liberating” presence in the region: business as usual.
“When America retreats, chaos follows,” Pompeo said, in a swaggering, cocksure speech in Cairo on Thursday. “America will not retreat until the terror fight is over.”
“I think what Pompeo and Bolton did was insubordinate,” Ron Paul told RT’s Rick Sanchez later that day. “And I don’t know why Trump puts up with it.”
Trump, he continued, “stakes out, politically, a risky position by boldly saying ‘we should come home.’” Paul, a consistent opponent to foreign wars and interventionism, then blasted Trump for backing down to the likes of Bolton and Pompeo.