Abandoning Our Kurdish Allies Will Be Trump’s Undoing
People have often wondered what the red line would be. How much is too much? Will there ever be a point when Trump’s behavior and poor policy decisions are met with real consequence?
We’re about to find out.
It wasn’t the kids in cages, tax breaks for the wealthy, inviting foreign adversaries to subvert elections, inciting rampant racism, mocking the disabled and dismissing victims of sexual assault. It wasn’t threatening whistleblowers, destroying trust in the press, lying to the people, obstructing justice, profiting off the office of the presidency or giving away national secrets. It wasn’t breaking the Iran nuclear deal or pulling us out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. It wasn’t the fact that he spends more time tweeting nonsense than he does governing.
None of those things packed enough punch to push Republicans over the edge, but he may have found the breaking point with Syria.
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Just days after Trump announced that U.S. troops will be withdrawn from the Syrian-Turkey border, Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched an air strike offensive against Kurds in Syria, fellow allied soldiers since 2015 in the fight against ISIS. And by allies, what we really mean is that Kurdish fighters carried the most burden in the fight and loss of lives in the process. They took on ISIS at our request and made enormous progress in diminishing the caliphate.
We agreed to back them up as they attempted to maintain control in Syria, which Erdogan in neighboring Turkey has rallied against for years. Still, our troops stood side-by-side with Kurdish forces, until Trump announced late Sunday night that he was clearing the way for Erdogan. Although Trump made a public threat to destroy Turkey’s economy if they did anything “off limits,” Erdogan began his assault late Tuesday and our soldiers are being asked to step aside and watch.
As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2019
Mr. “Unmatched Wisdom” doesn’t seem to have thought this through — not only is it amoral, but the move is illogical. The Kurds have been holding thousands of ISIS prisoners in Syria. The question remains whether they’ll release prisoners now that the U.S. has stabbed them in the back. Even if they decide to keep them locked up, how long can that be maintained as they’re weakened under Erdogan’s attack?
Not only does the move destroy what’s left of the U.S. reputation on the world stage but it threatens to destabilize the entire Middle East and breed a whole new generation of terrorists. Despite Erdogan’s framing of the assault as a mission for “peace,” it is widely understood that he would be quite happy to wipe out all the Kurds in a bout of ethnic cleansing — our president just gave him the green light to do so.
It seems as if this is a bridge too far for many Republican leaders. Lindsey Graham, Kevin McCarthy, Liz Cheney and Nikki Haley have spoken out with strong words against Trump’s decision, noting that we risk the reemergence of ISIS and an irreversible Middle Eastern shit storm.
But the real priority for Trump is not peace in the region or the integrity of our word — he’s motivated by his business dealings in Turkey and the cash Turkish officials throw his way.
It was reported Wednesday that Turkish officials have visited, and payed mightily to visit, Trump properties globally at least 14 times, which outdoes every other government contribution to the president’s profit margin. In a 2015 interview with Steve Bannon, Trump said in an audio recording that he has a “conflict of interest” in Turkey due to the Trump Towers in Istanbul he’s collecting revenue on. Two towers, not to be confused with one. Trump has several business ventures centered in Turkey and therefore, his love of profit outweighs the inevitably detrimental impact of Turkey’s Syrian assault.
People are literally dying at this moment as Erdogan moves in for a land strike to aid the air strikes already in progress, and it is absolutely the fault of the man sitting in the Oval Office tweeting about his “unmatched wisdom.”
This is the thing that will break the GOP’s support of this president, and it should. The impeachment inquiry Trump is calling ‘illegitimate” will start looking more and more legitimate to Republicans as the death toll of our allies rise, guaranteed. It’s just a shame they didn’t move to unseat him before the lives were lost.