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Armored vehicles carrying Turkish and U.S. troops patrolling the northern Syrian city of Manbij, Nov. 8. Photo: Turkish Ministry of National Defense/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

As dire as the situation in Syria may be, President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria could well prove the lesser of two evils.

The big picture: The U.S. military presence in Syria has continued despite its lack of congressional authorization or coherent strategy, risking another long entanglement of U.S. forces in a Middle Eastern country. It is also illegal under international law.

Background: The Obama administration first deployed U.S. troops to Syria to complement its aerial bombing campaign against the Islamic State, or ISIS, with special operations forces and to coordinate with local anti-ISIS militias on the ground, gradually expanding from hundreds of troops to roughly 4,000.

The other side: Trump’s decision has come without a clear public explanation or the kind of careful inter-agency process that would enable the most responsible withdrawal (though the fault for that may lie more with his hawkish advisers).

  • Moreover, Syria is unlikely to achieve peace and security in the near term: The Turks may engage in operations against the Kurds in Syria’s northeast, and ISIS may make some gains.

Yes, but: That doesn’t justify an unauthorized and indefinite military presence.

  • U.S. diplomats can try to curb Turkish plans against the Kurds.
  • ISIS' permanent defeat probably does not require a U.S. ground presence in Syria. ISIS is already decimated, and it's surrounded by enemies determined to nip its potential re-emergence in the bud.
  • It's impossible for the U.S. to forestall every unwanted contingency in the region. Just as ISIS itself was a byproduct of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, so too could a continued presence in Syria create unintended consequences.

The bottom line: Absent achievable goals and a strong national security imperative backed up by congressional authorization, the U.S. presence in Syria is illegitimate and better off wound down.

John Glaser is director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute.

Go deeper

In photos: Twin Cities on edge after Daunte Wright shooting

Demonstrators shout "Don't shoot" at the police after curfew on April 12 as they protest the death of Daunte Wright, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, a day earlier. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

There were tense scenes in the Twin Cities suburb of Brooklyn Center Monday night, after demonstrators defied a 7 p.m. curfew to protest for a second night the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright.

The big picture: The curfew was announced following a night of protests and unrest over the killing of Wright, 20, during a traffic stop Sunday. Following peaceful protests and a daytime vigil, police again deployed tear gas during clashes with protesters Monday night, according to reporters on the scene.

In photos: Life along the U.S.-Mexico border

Children at the border of the Puerto de Anapra colonia of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, hang on a border fence and look to Sunland Park, N.M. Photo: Russell Contreras/Axios

Axios traveled to McAllen and El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, to see how the communities are responding to an increase of migrants from Central America.

Of note: The region in South and West Texas are among the poorest in the nation and rarely are the regions covered in depth beyond the soundbites and press conference. Axios reporters Stef Kight and Russell Contreras walked the streets of McAllen, El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez to record images that struck them.

Updated 3 hours ago - Axios Twin Cities

Police: Officer who shot Daunte Wright accidentally pulled gun instead of Taser

The officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, outside Minneapolis Sunday appeared to have inadvertently pulled out her gun instead of a Taser, police said.

What's new: Officials on Monday night identified the officer involved in the shooting as Kim Potter, who has been with the Brooklyn Center Police Department for 26 years.

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