Their Views for December 21

What is Trump thinking? The sudden and puzzling Syria pullout announcement

The commander in chief of the American military has announced that U.S. forces have defeated ISIS and are therefore leaving Syria. Right away.

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What?

It may make sense for troops to return relatively soon from a war zone where rebels and radical Islamists are locked in a bloody death struggle with a murderous dictator closely allied with Iran and Russia.

But no decision of such strategic importance should be made in such impulsive fashion. The suddenness of President Trump’s declaration raises profound questions about his motives.

Three months ago, National Security Adviser John Bolton declared, “We’re not going to leave (Syria) as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders and that includes Iranian proxies and militias.”

Hasn’t happened. But the pullout will begin because, as Trump put it in (of course) a tweet, “we have defeated ISIS in Syria.”

Oh? The State Department Tuesday said “the job is not yet done”; the Defense Department Wednesday said “the campaign against ISIS is not over.”

Also Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Islamic State militants there had murdered nearly 700 prisoners in nearly two months. Syrian rebel commanders say at least 5,000 ISIS fighters remain: a weak core and a far cry from their imagined caliphate, but a far cry from extinction.

Trump’s decision will be music to the ears of Vladimir Putin, as well as to Iran, both of whom will now wield maximum influence. It reportedly sprung from a call with Turkish President Recep Erdogan; there are rumblings of a deal that may include a commitment to hand over cleric Erdogan’s nemesis, cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is in Pennsylvania.

No one should take lightly the prospect of Americans staying in harm’s way. But when a decision this consequential looks this impetuous, alarm bells must ring.

— New York Daily News

So so sorry: Facebook comes clean

Dear fellow citizens of Facebook:

We’re so sorry we shared your private messages with Netflix and Amazon and others.

We know at this point you’re probably tired of what seems like the umpteenth example of an endless cycle: a revelation of a breach of trust on our part, followed by a spasm of self-flagellation, followed by news about another breach of trust.

So consider this letter an attempt to rip off the Band-Aid once and for all.

When we tracked your movements, we shouldn’t have measured the exact amount of time you spent in the bathroom, then signed you up for marketing lists for anti-constipation medication.

We deeply regret using keylogging software to capture messages you considered sending but decided not to, then sold them to the intended almost-recipient.

We wish we had never let Russian cyber-operatives pose as your own sons and daughters and say they hate you.

We shouldn’t have used face recognition technology on the photos of you, your family and your friends, then found your doppelgangers, then sent fake phishing emails to you from these doppelgangers threatening to frame you for crimes you did not commit.

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Please give us one more chance.

— New York Daily News

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