by Richard Cameron
Hard to say if Donald Trump had any inkling of the reaction he was going to get from his announcement that he intends to leave the Kurds in Northern Syria twisting in the wind, exposed to a vindictive onslaught from Turkey’s military. Whether he did or not, casting caution and common sense and decency to the wind, he’s getting a reaction and most of it is ferocious, especially of note, by customary milquetoast GOP standards.
Before we look at that, we should hear from the people Trump’s treachery most affects – the Kurds, themselves.
The Syrian Democratic Forces, who have done the dangerous, deadly heavy lifting against the rapacious, murdering Islamic State, in a response to Trump’s plans, stated through their spokesman, Mustafa Bali that:
“After we fulfilled all our obligations in this regard, the American forces did not fulfill their obligations and withdrew their forces from the border areas with Turkey, and Turkey is now preparing for an invasion operation of northern and eastern Syria. This Turkish military operation in northern and eastern Syria will have a significant negative impact on our war against ISIS and will destroy any stability that has been achieved over the past years.”
Senator Lindsey Graham, (R-SC), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a gorilla glued barnacle to the U.S.S. Trumptanic, made an incredibly rare cameo appearance as a Trump critic, in response to Trump’s move.
Marco Rubio (R-FL), who has done a splendid job of living down to Donald Trump’s assessment of him as “Little Marco”, made a rare appearance portraying a vertebrate – that’s a person with an actual spine, for those of you down in Smith County. Rubio said: “If reports about US retreat in #Syria are accurate, the Trump administration has made a grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria.”
Trump has made a lot of “grave mistakes” that Senator Rubio has been missing in action in calling strikes and fouls on. Why this one particularly awoke him from his stupor, is anyone’s guess.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who’s customary role is to protect and defend Trump, as opposed to the Constitution, even smelled the Kimchi associated with the president’s naked attempt to feed the Kurdish people to the wolves:
“A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup,” Mr. McConnell said in a statement. “… As we learned the hard way during the Obama administration, American interests are best served by American leadership, not by retreat or withdrawal.”
Neighboring state Senator, Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), gave her own elevator speech in opposition to the announced withdrawal of American forces, “As the Syrian people seek stability post-conflict, we ought not to give ISIS any room to regain territory. Syria’s location leaves it vulnerable to adversaries, and an American presence preserves the possibility for peace.”
Even Ted Cruz (R-TX), who is frightened of his own shadow these days, much less the wrath of Trump’s zombie voters, felt emboldened to pipe up:
Mitt Romney, who has taken some cautious steps toward emerging as a chief opponent to Trump’s conduct, said of Trump’s latest insanity, “The President’s decision to abandon our Kurd allies in the face of an assault by Turkey is a betrayal. It says that America is an unreliable ally; it facilitates ISIS resurgence; and it presages another humanitarian disaster.”
That Senate Democrats would recognize the folly of Trump’s irrational and suspicious plans, was far from unpredictable.
The leader of the Democratic contingent on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner (D-VA), slammed Trump, telling followers on his Twitter account that,“The Syrian Kurds stood with the United States in the fight against ISIS, and this President just betrayed them in a tweetThis will further destabilize the region and haunt the United States for years to come. How can anyone trust the United States under this President?”
But far more damning to Trump’s incoherent position on the fate of our Kurdish allies, is the reviews he is getting from those who have actually been involved in the day to day conduct of our operations in theater, to neutralize the malignancy of the Islamic State in the Middle East. Most prominent among them is now resigned Syria envoy, Brett McGurk.
Trump, McGurk said, has “no process to assess facts, develop options, or prepare contingencies. Our personnel are left exposed at the slightest moment of friction.”
“Donald Trump is not a Commander-in-Chief,” McGurk tweeted. “He makes impulsive decisions with no knowledge or deliberation. He sends military personnel into harm’s way with no backing. He blusters and then leaves our allies exposed when adversaries call his bluff or he confronts a hard phone call.”
NBC News reported that former NATO commander James Stavridis, equated a pulling out of U.S. troops from Northern Syria to the opening of a “Pandora’s box” and cautioned that Trump’s move will likely “have a ripple effect through our entire global structure of alliances.” “Everyone was absolutely flabbergasted by this,” Stavridis added.
All of this puts Fox News, Trump’s consistent propaganda outlet in a quandary. How much of this bi-partisan blowback against Trump, can they permit on their network – and if they toss a blanket of silence over it, can they continue to include the word “news” following the proper noun, “Fox”, without more of the ridicule they already have invited?
Some hosts have been caught flatfooted by the credible opposition arising from foreign policy and military analysts. Case in point, “America’s Newsroom” had on the program, a retired general, Jack Keane, who savaged Trump’s decision. “There’s one word that describes this for me, betrayal. I think it’s a strategic blunder that will have significant implications”.
“We went into eastern Syria to defeat ISIS,” Keane added. “The Syrian Democratic Forces, which the Kurds were a part of, had 60,000 ground troops. We provided 2,000 to help them. It took us two years. We fought every single day to defeat ISIS. The Syrian Kurds, who we’re talking about here, lost over 11,000 in that fight. … How can we possibly walk away from them?”
Even “Fox and Friends” hosts had their own kerfuffle over the policy announcement from the Oval Office.
Brian Kilmeade fights with his co-hosts over Trump throwing Syrian Kurds under the bus: "What kind of message is that to the next ally that wants to side with us? … All we did is arm them, and they did all the work. And now we say 'good luck. Good luck surviving.' Disaster." pic.twitter.com/ktyDqsM4lS
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) October 7, 2019
There are factions who have serious reservations and concerns about the conduct of American foreign policy in terms of our track record of military involvement in regions and conflicts that defy a clear cut definition of national interest, plus global forward deployment that pegs the meter on empire overstretch. I consider myself a member of those groups.
Even so, there is no justification in making those objections a “one size fits all” proposition. There actually are hotspots where we can and should play a vital role in containing the chaos and assisting our friends in defending the freedom and autonomy they have sacrificed to win. The Northern Syrian border with Turkey is one of them and the Kurds are worth sustaining with as much assistance we can provide them. Those are investments in stability.
Trump does not possess the ability to comprehend the nuances of sensible policy restraint. He needs to be chastised on this and severely. For now, it appears this is the only thing most of the leaders of both parties can agree on.