Tensions are rising within the Trump administration and on the ground in Syria. This could be the beginning of a very ugly confrontation.
- By Sharon WeinbergerSharon Weinberger is the executive editor for news at Foreign Policy. Previously, she was the national security editor at The Intercept, where she directed the publication's defense and intelligence coverage. Her most recent book, published in March 2017, is The Imagineers of War: The Untold Story of DARPA, the Pentagon Agency That Changed the World (Knopf, 2017). She was a Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard in 2015-2016, a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT in 2008-2009, and she is currently a non-resident global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She has also been an International Reporting Project Fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, an Alicia Patterson Fellow, a Carnegie Fellow at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, a Nation Institute Investigative Fellow, and a Carnegie Newhouse Legal Reporting Fellow. She received her B.A. from Johns Hopkins University, and holds an M.A. from the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and an M.A. in Russian and East European Studies from Yale University. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Nature, Discover, BBC.com, Slate, Wired, the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, and the Financial Times, among other publications. She was previously a senior editor at Aviation Week and a co-founding writer and editor for Wired's national security blog, Danger Room.
On this week’s second episode of The E.R., Sharon Weinberger sits down with Jon Finer, Dan De Luce, and Kate Brannen to discuss the latest developments in the Syrian war and the administration’s strategy (or lack thereof). As the assault on Raqqa — the de facto capital of the Islamic State — ramps up, U.S. special forces and their partners are clashing with Iranian-backed militias. And as the Islamic State loses ground, Iran, its proxies, and the Bashar Al-Assad regime see a foothold to move in. So where does this leave the United States?
Exclusive reporting by Brannen and De Luce highlights a growing disagreement between the White House and the Pentagon over the role the United States should play in Syria. The Pentagon has repeatedly knocked down proposals from the White House and the National Security Council to widen the fight in Syria and, in so doing, crack down on Iran. However Trump’s national security team keeps pushing back. While the administration is reviewing a broader Iran strategy review, there is increasing concern that Washington will expand its efforts in Syria in an attempt to edge out Tehran’s proxies and Assad’s forces. But what happens once the Islamic State is defeated? What is the end goal with Iran? Or is the inevitable end war?
Jon Finer is a Shadow Government contributor and was the chief of staff to Secretary of State John Kerry and director of policy planning at the State Department. He also spent four years in the Obama White House serving as a senior advisor in the offices of the national security advisor and the Middle East advisor. He was previously a reporter for the Washington Post where he covered conflicts in Iraq, Lebanon, Georgia, and Gaza.
Kate Brannen is the deputy managing editor of Just Security and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council. Follow her on Twitter: @k8brannen.
Sharon Weinberger is FP’s executive editor for news. She is the author of The Imagineers of War: The Untold Story of DARPA, the Pentagon Agency That Changed the World. Follow her on Twitter: @weinbergersa.
Tune in, now twice a week, to FP’s The E.R.