As foreign policy philosophies go, “Let them!” is unusually laissez-faire, bordering on wishful thinking when it comes to the Middle East. It’s also a strikingly carefree tone for Trump, given that he faces an impeachment inquiry that could threaten his presidency. But Trump has never felt shackled by precedent or norms.
His predecessors, even when reluctant, bowed to necessity, obligation or a grandiose sense of destiny in staying engaged in the Middle East – the region is, after all, a major source of the oil that lubricates the global economy as well as the terrorists that have attacked America. Barack Obama, for one, made withdrawing American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan a pillar of his pitch to voters in 2008, only to surge or return forces to those countries on the recommendation of his military advisers.
Trump appears less focused on the global repercussions of his actions than on pleasing his Republican base. And as with his past breaks with GOP orthodoxy on issues like entitlements and trade, he seems largely unconcerned by the opprobrium of Republican elites.