Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton listens as President Trump speaks to members of the U.S. military during a trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, on Dec. 26, 2018. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

National security adviser John Bolton is in the Middle East this week attempting to sell President Trump's Syria withdrawal policy, which Bolton opposed only several weeks ago. And it appears that he still opposes it, based on reports that he told Israeli and Turkish officials that the U.S. won't be leaving Syria until the Islamic State is defeated.

Why it matters: It would be tough enough for Bolton to convince Israel to support Trump's proposal to leave Iran to “do what they want” in Syria; the Kurds that they are safe, despite public concern that the Turks will slaughter them; and Jordan and Iraq that ISIS is defeated, as the president claims, despite their battling ISIS nearly every day. The discrepancies are amounting to incoherent policy.

The danger of such inconsistency is that America's word becomes meaningless, leading allies to doubt Washington's promises and adversaries its resolve. Because Trump has neither responded to Bolton's statements nor clarified his position, it's unclear how committed he is to the Syria withdrawal.

Between the lines: Congress has not authorized the U.S. military presence in Syria. Neither Obama nor Trump sought authorization, knowing that it would likely not be granted, despite Congressional concerns about withdrawal.

  • The only time that authorization for military activity aimed at Syria was sought — by Obama, in August 2013, against chemical weapons facilities — it garnered too little support to be brought to a vote.

Bolton's plan to keep U.S. troops in Syria would therefore defy both the president's and Congress’ wishes. Without official support from either, there is no clear mandate or coherent policy for the U.S. to stay in Syria.

What to watch: Bolton will aim to assuage U.S. allies concerned about a troop withdrawal as well as both the president and Congressional critics of the U.S. presence in Syria — a difficult needle to thread.

Joel Rubin is the president of the Washington Strategy Group and the former deputy assistant secretary of state for the House of Representatives.

Go deeper

Updated 5 mins ago - Health

The race to avoid a possible "monster" COVID variant

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Slow global COVID-19 vaccination rates are raising concerns that worse variants of the coronavirus could be percolating, ready to rip into the world before herd immunity can diminish their impact.

Why it matters: The U.S. aims to at least partially vaccinate 70% of adults by July 4, a move expected to accelerate the current drop of new infections here. But, variants are the wild card, and in a global pandemic where only about 8% of all people have received one dose, the virus will continue mutating unabated.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
30 mins ago - Health

Democrats are still looking for a plan on drug prices

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Democrats have no workable plan to tackle the cost of prescription drugs, even with full control of Washington and after campaigning on the issue for years.

The picture: Voters still care about the cost of drugs, but Democrats don't have a feasible legislative strategy yet — or an agreed-upon policy to fit into a legislative strategy.

The limits of "Buy American"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Joe Biden and Donald Trump agree on at least one thing: Buy American. The slogan was a centerpiece of Biden's recent address to Congress, backed up with one of his first executive orders.

Why it matters: Federal law has placed a heavy thumb on the scales when it comes to hundreds of billions of dollars of U.S. government spending. But it's far from clear that it will have its desired effect.