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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

President Trump reportedly decided yesterday to keep U.S. troops on the ground in Syria a while longer, walking back his declaration on Tuesday that it's time to bring those troops home because "we've had a tremendous military success against ISIS."

Why it matters: Ending the U.S. presence in Syria is a bad idea. American troops have provided valuable support and intelligence to local Kurdish forces fighting ISIS and have at times engaged in direct combat. A U.S. withdrawal would constitute a strategic victory for Bashar al-Assad’s abhorrent regime, for its patrons Iran and Russia and for ISIS itself, allowing the group a chance to recoup.

A small U.S. military presence is still needed to train and advise Syrian Kurds and on rare occasions to carry out operational missions against vulnerable, high-value targets. This is nothing like what was attempted in Iraq and Afghanistan — which was nation-building, not counterterrorism — and Trump is right to argue that the costs incurred in those countries far exceeded any benefits.

What's next: The U.S. needs an endurance and not an exit strategy. The commitment would continue as long as ISIS and similar groups are present or until local forces are willing and able to contend with them on their own.

This is not a conventional fight against a conventional adversary. There will be no surrender, no ceremony on a battleship Missouri or at a courthouse in Appomattox or anywhere else. The struggle against terrorists — people prepared both to kill innocents and to die for a political cause — is open-ended. It is also essential, given the toll that another 9/11 would exact.

The bottom line: Success should be defined as limiting the problem of terrorism, not ending it. Trump needs to accept this — and level with the American people about what it will require.

Richard Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of “A World in Disarray.”

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The big picture: After skipping Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings last year, many people are eager to maximize this year's celebrations with friends and family. And flexible remote working arrangements make that easier than ever.

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The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."