New York Q&A: Should the US Withdraw Troops from Syria?

By Stuart Liess, Epoch Times
December 30, 2018 Updated: December 30, 2018

The White House has declared victory over the ISIS terrorist group. On Dec. 19, President Donald Trump publicly announced the decision to bring 2,000 troops home from Syria, saying that U.S. troops, who had been there since late 2014, had no other purpose for remaining in the war-torn country. The withdrawal, which fulfills one of the president’s campaign promises, has left mixed opinions. The Epoch Times spoke to New Yorkers and visitors to ask for their opinions on the sensitive subject. Here’s what they had to say:

Juan in New York on Dec. 28, 2018. (Stuart Liess/The Epoch Times)

Juan, 70, retired, from the Dominican Republic

It’s a good idea because both Russia and Iran are there, so they’re just getting in each other’s way. It’s better to get out of it; it makes no sense for America to be there.

Afaq Imtiaz in New York on Dec. 28, 2018. (Stuart Liess/The Epoch Times)

Afaq Imtiaz, 53, operations engineer

I think it’s a bad idea, really. It will create a vacuum for somebody else to take leadership and keep stability in the area, so that would be Russia. Then, it would also create a vacuum for people that have been deterred by the U.S. presence to come back with a vengeance and destabilize the area.

The U.S. plays a leadership role and they need to act like that. I’m not saying they [should] play the role of the world’s police, but people do look to the U.S. for stability and peace.

ISIS is like a game of “Whack-a-Mole”—they’ll just pop up again. It’s their ideology that you have to break through. Until that is done, the job’s incomplete—they’re going to pop up somewhere else.

Marc Saltz in New York on Dec. 28, 2018. (Stuart Liess/The Epoch Times)

Marc Saltz, 40, manager, South Africa

I just think peace, not war. It’s better not to get involved in other people’s affairs.

Ashley Semerc in New York on Dec. 28, 2018. (Stuart Liess/The Epoch Times)

Ashley Semerc, 31, manager

We have the troops there to help out with Syria and the whole situation going on over there. To pull them out, I think that’s kind of silly. It’s ruining our foreign policy. We’re supposed to try to maintain allies and try to help other countries, being in a role of power, not pull back all of our resources and not help other people.

My opinion would be to remain, maintain and help the country that needs it, especially if there are refugees leaving Syria. Why not help get Syria back to where they don’t need to be escaping to other countries.

Charlie and Amber Hodges in New York on Dec. 28, 2018. (Stuart Liess/The Epoch Times)

Charlie, Nancy, and Amber Hodges

Charlie Hodges: Best plan ever.

Nancy Hodges: We have very different responses.

Amber Hodges: We shouldn’t talk about this together. We don’t agree politically on some things.

Charlie: Do you think they should’ve been there to begin with?

Amber: I will say this, I don’t think it’s ever smart for a leader to announce that they’re withdrawing troops.

Charlie: I just think that they should not have been there in the first place, and I’m really glad that they’re getting them out. This is one where people are determined to kill themselves and each other, so why get in the middle of that? We got in the middle of something that was originally going to resolve all those people being dead, we killed a bunch of them, and now, we’re leaving it back the way it was.

Charles Polanco in New York on Dec. 28, 2018. (Stuart Liess/The Epoch Times)

Charles Polanco, 38, chef

With the threat still being there, you’re kind of leaving people in a difficult position, in my opinion. Because if they can take back over the regime, we’re going to have a big problem in the long run, as an international issue.

President Donald Trump did mention they still had troops within Iraq could go over to fight if necessary, which isn’t 100 percent wrong. But at the same time, if there’s still an issue there, they’re spreading themselves a little thin.

We have been saying we were going to pull the troops out for quite some time—as far back as Obama—so I’m not 100 percent against it. But at the same time, I know very little about what’s going on there to weigh everything properly.

Andreas Walter in New York on Dec. 28, 2018. (Stuart Liess/The Epoch Times)

Andreas Walter, 49, sales

I think it’s a good thing. It’s a little bit early right now, a little abrupt. It feels like it was used as a bargaining chip for something else, rather than being cooperative.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the future. There’ll be more questions as to where troops are going to be deployed and who’s going to pay for what. I think it’ll have a more financial component going forth, and I think that’s part of why the Syria retreat is on the table as well. It somewhat feels like there is a bigger component. It’s just a change from the past, when it was always the U.S. being the world’s police.

Carine (C), Frederic, and Maya, from Switzerland, in New York on Dec. 28, 2018. (Stuart Liess/The Epoch Times)

Carine, Frederic, and Maya, from Switzerland

Carine: For us, we’re neutral, but it seems like an endless war. It’s impossible to make peace there.

Frans(R) and Johannes Meindertsma in New York on Dec. 28, 2018. (Stuart Liess/The Epoch Times)

Frans (R) and Johannes Meindertsma, from the Netherlands

It’s dangerous for the region because the Americans are needed there and it’s not safe for the region. In the news in Holland, there is a lot of disappointment. We’re hoping they will change their minds as the U.S. presence is very important there for everyone’s safety.

Toby Savage in New York on Dec. 28, 2018. (Stuart Liess/The Epoch Times)

Toby Savage, 46, warehouse manager

It’s a very complicated topic. They’re not ready and we’re not prepared to deal with what’s going to happen after. We’re going to have to deal with it because we’re supposed to be united, except we’re being split apart. I’m not happy about it.

Jimmy Be

It’s good, because look at Afghanistan, how many people were killed there? [It’s] going on 4,000. So why are American people getting killed over somebody else’s issue? They can help them in other ways: They can give them money, they can train their troops.

Interviews edited for clarity and brevity.