The wars in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan:
One of the two candidates on the debate stage ultimately will be charged with overseeing the military campaigns to retake the Islamic State-held cities of Mosul, in Iraq, and Raqqa, in Syria. Within months of taking office, the new president will have to work through a latticework of constantly shifting local alliances to keep some sort of peace in those sprawling cities while keeping Russian and Turkish forces — and political complexities — at bay.
Yet more mental energy was spent Monday debating police tactics in New York City and 1990s-era beauty pageant contestants than how to close out 15 years of Washington’s wars — in which approximately 13,000 U.S. troops remain on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. Clinton stuck to the points she has long advocated: ramping up airstrikes on ISIS fighters, launching an “intelligence surge” to pinpoint targets while hitting extremists before they can attack Americans, and doubling down on eliminating the Islamic State’s leadership.
In short, continuing what President Barack Obama has been doing, just more of it. And Clinton made no mention of imposing a “no-fly-zone” in Syria, a proposal she has advocated during the political campaign, and gave no indication whether she would take a tougher line with the regime in Damascus.
Trump, as always, wouldn’t reveal his so-called secret plan to win the war against ISIS, while complaining that “we should have taken the oil” before leaving Iraq, an idea he has never explained. Apart from being illegal and physically impossible, as some senior officers have pointed out, it would require thousands of U.S. troops to stay behind to guard the oil facilities.