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Trump's tough call

Trump's tough call

Turkey's ongoing military incursion into Syria began when President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of US forces from land in northern Syria held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The US has long considered the SDF an important ally in the drive to destroy ISIS. Turkey, by contrast, accuses the SDF of support for Kurdish separatists inside Turkey.


President Erdogan says his country's military will push the SDF and its 40,0000 fighters further from the Turkish border and create a "safe zone" inside Syria to house many of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees now living in camps inside Turkey.

Trump's decision to withdraw US troops cleared the way for Turkey's military to attack the SDF.

This story raises a broader question: What's the proper role for the world's only military superpower in today's world? Is Trump right to withdraw these troops? Or is he making a big mistake?

Here's our take on the most compelling arguments for each side.

Against Trump's withdrawal

  • The US president has stabbed a loyal American ally in the back. People who counted on support from Washington are now being killed. Civilian men, women, and children will be among the dead.
  • The US needs allies, and Trump's decision to withdraw protection from the SDF, who have fought alongside Americans to defeat ISIS, sends a clear signal to US allies around the world that Washington can't be trusted. The president may promise one thing today and abandon his pledge tomorrow. The next president may refuse to keep promises that the current president makes.
  • The SDF holds thousands of ISIS members captive. Attacking the group could free these fighters.
  • The US withdrawal will allow ISIS to rebuild and commit new terrorist attacks, possibly on US targets. It will also help Russia and Iran tighten their grip on Syria.
  • In ordering this withdrawal, Trump, the only person ever elected US president without ever having served in government or the military, overruled senior military leaders and officials with deep experience of the Middle East. Strong leaders are willing to be guided by experienced advisors.

For Trump's withdrawal

  • The Kurds are not "allies" of the United States. They are dependents. Allies come to your aid just as you come to theirs.
  • Iran and Russia already control Syria, and military occupation of a foreign country won't eliminate the risk of terrorism at home.
  • US soldiers shouldn't be asked to fight over land in the Middle East, occupy its unstable countries, and patrol its streets until the region's powers all become friendly democracies. The American taxpayer shouldn't be asked to pay for endless commitments to the security of others.
  • If now is not the moment for withdrawal, then when? US troops have been in Afghanistan for 18 years.
  • The first obligation of the US president is to the American people. Candidate Trump promised he would free the US from never-ending wars in the Middle East, and he intends to keep that promise.

The bottom-line: Complicated problems don't come with obvious answers. Tell us what you think.

Meet Alessandra Cominetti, a recipient of MIT Technology Review Magazine's Innovators Under 35 award. As a lab technician at Eni's Research Centre for Renewable Energy in Novara, Alessandra has devoted her career to finding new solutions and materials to optimize solar energy. Much like the serendipitous encounter that resulted in her employment, her eagerness and willingness to try new things allowed her to stumble upon a material for the creation of portable solar panels.

Watch her remarkable story on the latest episode of Faces of Eni.

Joe Biden has vowed to radically change the US' approach to foreign policy and international diplomacy should he win next week's election.

But a lot has happened in four years under Donald Trump that could impede Biden's ability to simply return to the status quo ante. How different would US foreign policy really be under a Biden presidency? What will the two-term former vice president likely be able to change, and what's bound to remain the same, at least for now?

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Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on what corporate business leaders are thinking during the global coronavirus crisis

Should big business care about small business in these times?

The answer is yes and for many reasons. First, small business is the lifeblood of our economies. 45% of employment in emerging countries and 70% in the OECD comes from small and medium enterprises. Moreover, these enterprises have been badly hit by the crisis. Surveys indicate as many as 50% of European small to medium enterprises feel they may not survive over 12 months. While SMEs are relying on government support, larger companies do have a role to play. After all, this includes prioritizing small business and procurement by locking in demand for multiple years, thus facilitating access to good credit, paying receivables to small business in time and where possible, ahead of schedule. Cash flow matters most when you're small. Looking out for small businesses that have lower resilience. For example, financial institutions can lend more and in doing so, ensure deeper customer relationships in the future.

In his latest Financial Times op-ed, Martin Wolf argues that the US global role is at stake in this election and that a Trump re-election would undo America's legacy of democratic leadership in the world. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Jeffrey Wright grabbed the Red Pen to argue that a Trump presidency exists in part because of Americans' rejection of the US's post-war leadership role, and these feelings run deeper than the article suggests.

Today, we're taking The Red Pen to a recent op-ed published in The Financial Times from my good friend, the chief economics commentator Martin Wolf. Martin argues the global role of the United States is at stake on November 3rd, and that a Trump reelection would undo America's legacy of democratic leadership in the world. There's been a lot of this sort of thing recently. I know, we did it once, but if we do it twice, it's all over and I'm not there. To be clear, we don't totally reject what Martin is presenting in this piece. Rather, we'd argue that a Trump presidency exists because there were feelings that were present in the United States before he came along and they run a lot deeper than the article suggests. In other words, it's really not all about Trump.

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"The top priority will be to announce to the world that the United States they've known for decades is back." Former top Obama diplomat and current CEO of the think tank New America Anne-Marie slaughter predicts an American revival on the global stage if Joe Biden wins the presidency. But at a time when the United States has never been more divided, can any nation, even the world's most powerful, be a global leader if it cannot even keep its own house in order? Ian Bremmer's conversation with Slaughter is part of a new episode of GZERO World.

Watch the episode: How a "President Biden" could reshape US foreign policy

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